Queenstown

Last weekend a number of residents at Toroa Int’l House caught a bus to Queenstown. I took photos. Wanna see?

We stopped in Roxburgh for a toilet break after about two hours, and I couldn’t resist taking a quick pic of this statue in front of the public toilets. Whoever he is, I have a feeling the people of Roxburgh don’t respect him too much.

We stopped again in some unknown town, and after half an hour or so of not going anywhere we started asking questions. Turned out that a rubber belt of some sort had snapped in the engine and a mechanic had just arrived to replace it. However, standard late night road mechanics aren’t so great with large buses, and the repair wasn’t progressing too quickly.

We ended up getting on a different bus owned by the same company running to Queenstown with some kids from a 1st year U. of Otago residence on it. Luckily there was enough space for us as our bus hadn’t been full.

We arrived around 11pm and went to sleep. Here’s what our room looked like in my fisheye lens.

Here’s the view out of our window of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables.

The next day early in the morning most of the group set off on the now fixed bus to the ski fields for a day of skiing or boarding. I, being the pauper that I am, and having the added excuse of a severely annoying and painful reoccurring knee injury, did not go boarding. Instead, I walked around town for several hours with Vania.

After a long time walking, and eating a basket of fries at a little restaurant, we took the gondola up the wee little mountain in town, called Bob’s Peak. It’s free to get there via a 45 minute brisk uphill walk, but we were tired and gondolas are nifty.

The views from Bob’s Peak are awesome, but no pics here, cuz the views from our short tramp (hike) the next day are better. However, there is a luge ride on Bob’s Peak and it is CRAZY. Essentially, you sit in a little three wheeled lowriding “luge” and speed down a cement track for 800m. We took the ‘scenic’ route as the speed route was a bit too crazy for our liking – people were getting airborne on some of the hill crests. This the end of the track:

Queenstown is not only known for the wide variety of extreme adventure sports (for instance, bungy jumping was invented there and the highest bungy in the world is there), but for its flammable snow. Not joking. Methane air pockets, caused by the geothermal vents around there, can be trapped in the snow and cigarette butts have been known to ignite some pretty stunning fireballs.

The next day, I went tramping with Evan, Dayton, Esperanza, and Blanca. We walked a bit over 3 hours in the mountains (part of the Southern Alps) just outside Queenstown – it was sooo beautiful up there. It was bright and sunny and warm, yet it was snowing tiny little snowflakes for a fair amount of our time up there – really nice and fresh air.

There was even a cascading river to cross:

I decided to teach my fellow travelers how to levitate, and Esperanza, Blanca, and Dayton did quite well. Evan needs to work on his form a little.

Esperanza:

Blanca:

Evan:

Dayton:

There was a plethora of ovine fauna in the mountains, and Evan decided to try and catch one. The cunning sheep ran slowly down the other side of the mountain to safety.

We ate lunch (nutella sandwhiches courtesy of Dayton, jam and butter sandwhiches courtesy of Blanca) on a rock ledge overlooking the valleys with wee little snowflakes swirling around us much of the time.

I managed to fill my quota of New Zealand sheep photos finally – after all, if you go to New Zealand, how can you arrive home with no photos of sheep when there are 11 times as many sheep as people here?

There were many death-defying leaps of faith to be made on our tramp. Here, Evan demonstrates a technique perfected over centuries by the Nepalese sherpas he has been living with for the past 2 years.

As with any battle of Man vs Mountain, there are bound to be some war wounds. Dayton was our only casualty on this trip – he had to be airlifted to hospital after cutting his hand on a rock.

Here, Evan waits with Dayton for the helicopter to arrive.

The helicopter was a bit slow coming, so we walked back instead.

The End.

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