Getting Adrenalized in Queenstown

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14/02/08
Wow, look at that kids, it’s St. Valentine’s Day! Well, I can’t say I’m doing anything romantic at all to mark the day, but rather, chose to hurtle myself over a canyon and fly through the same said canyon in a jet boat. Later on tonight, I believe my hosts and I will be doing somewhat of a pub crawl around Queenstown. Lucky for me, they don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, so I’m not really intruding. Otherwise, I would’ve just found my own entertainment for the night elsewhere. Today is another pseudo-rest day, with the most I’m doing physically is walking to town and back to get shuttle buses. The legs are recovering nicely, and I think I’ll be back on track with another day like this. Lucky for me, that’s exactly how I planned it out! Hee hee. Anyway, for today, I put together a map showing where I did things, but they are not my typical biking maps. Read on, and check out the pics too.

So, just what did I end up doing today you ask? Well, to get the day started out, I was booked to do the Skippers Canyon Jet Boat tour. There are actually quite a few different jet boat companies, so the first thing I had to do was decide which one to take. In the end, I turned to local knowledge to help me out. Julia and Mark had taken the one that I booked. The main reason I liked it was that it included a wicked 4-wheel drive trip through the skippers canyon road, which is another one of those roads that reminded me of the Bolivian Death Highway. This thing is supposed to be two lanes, but you definitely wouldn’t want to meet an oncoming car in a lot of the sections. I’m sure you’ll agree when you browse through the pictures. The road itself took 23 years to build by pick and shovel during the gold rush years of the Central Otago. At one point, 5000 people lived in Skippers Canyon, but that number is down to 30 or so now. It’s really not a great road to drive down.

The other cool part of this jet boat trip, which itself was quite short, was that the shores of the canyon are literally littered with reminders of the gold rush era, complete with old dredgers, and various bits and pieces of rusted metal put in place to help in the quest for gold. However, for a time, the payoff was indeed quite huge for those who were willing to hunt for the gold. After the jet boat ride, which was good fun, we got back on our little bus and drove a little further to walk out and check out one of the old bungy sites, called the Pipeline Bungy. It was a cool spot in the canyon, and would have been a great spot to jump for sure, but now that the Nevis Highwire site is in place, AJ Hackett saw no reason to keep it in operation. It was just too tough for getting people to and from.

Once I returned to town from the jet boat ride, I had a couple hours to kill before I was due to board another bus for the second attraction, the Shotover Canyon Swing. To pass the time, I first went to the DOC offices to look into the hike I want to do. It turns out the recent rain has made the first part pretty boggy, and they were recommending no one set out on it today. D’oh. Hope it dries a bit in the next two or so days. I also looked into how I’d get there. The only shuttle place I found wants me to pay 43NZD each way for the trip. Yuck. Locals assure me there should be almost no problem getting at least to Glenorchy by hitching, which is what I plan to do.

After getting all that info, it was food time. There was really only one option here. I headed straight to Fergburger, a place highly recommended by everyone I seem to meet in New Zealand who has been to Queenstown. They all say you have to go to Fergburger. It’s sort of like the Works in Ottawa I reckon. However, after dining there, I think the Works is still a bit better as far as the selection available. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good burger, but I think it was built up just a little too much by everyone to a level it just couldn’t attain. Either way, my belly was full and ready for my next activity.

I reported in for the Canyon Swing, and was weighed, and I started browsing which style I would use for doing this ride. The Canyon Swing is just how is sounds. They drop you off a platform 109m above the canyon floor. From there, you freefall for 60m, before swinging in an arc for about 200m at a speed of 150km/hr. While the height isn’t as high as the Nevis Bungy, the freefall is apparently longer. Nevis is 50m until the bungy starts to slow you down, whereas this has an extra 10m before you arc. Either way, I was in for a hell of a ride.

I was a little concerned about the ride after my terrible bungy experience the day before so I looked long and hard at my options to see what had the least likelihood of causing me injury, yet was still thrilling. I ended up choosing the Indian Rope Trick, which is where you are suspended off the platform, then you hold a rope, at which point they pull the pin from the contraption. From that point, you hold on to the rope for as long as you can before dropping into the freefall. The record is 1min.5secs. I was told if I broke it, the second jump was free. Right on. Sadly, the sweat and sunscreen on my hands, along with the awkward position meant that I missed the record by 1min. 4secs. Yup. One lousy second is all I lasted before slipping off into the drop. However, it was a helluva lot of fun. As usual it didn’t last long enough, but I’m still glad I did it.

There were 6 people in our little group, and it was just as fun watching others go as doing it yourself. A couple of the girls opted to go for a second swing, and try something different. One of them was strapped into a lawn chair, and then tipped off backwards into a few spins. Very cool. Another did some kind of upside-down, headfirst dive type of thing. Another good one to watch. The pictures and DVDs were pretty cool that they made as well, but at 45 bucks, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it. I remember the experience, and I have a few pictures, so that’s just going to have to do!

After the fun was over, it was back to the house here, where I’m writing this up as I have a beer. We’re having rack of lamb tonight, then heading downtown to see what’s happening. It’s actually getting pretty cool out tonight, so there’s talk of wearing pants. Crazy. Apparently, we’re on the downswing of Summer now, and it’s going to start getting cooler again. Damn! Hope I’m not stranded on Stewart Island in the ice 🙂

Well, that’s all I have to say about today, as I’ve just written 4 posts, and am getting a little tired of writing, so I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Check back later for more, and don’t forget to visit flickr for hundreds of pictures that I’ve managed to upload here in Queenstown. I should be all caught up soon.

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