On Friday, we said goodbye to Sam :(, who caught a bus back up to Christchurch to fly home, and embarked west on our girl road trip from Dunedin, across farmland and raging rivers, towards the mountains of Queenstown. We had been constantly over estimating driving distances, and, therefore, were happy to discover that the drive would only be a casual 4, rather than the marathon 6, we had been anticipating. With our extra time, we took a leisurely morning, having some girl chat and walking around the town centre once more, only to find some alluring shops, that we simply had to check out (as girls do). Although, Erika and I, being smart shoppers, not to mention poor college kids, found some jackpots in the nearby thrift stores instead.
After grabbing the car and picking up our bags etc. at the hostel, we hit the road! I love road trip days (aka days when the destination is just an end point, and the journey is the adventure)! We took this to heart, and stopped probably every hour or so (which was nice for moi as the driver). First was at a beautiful little bridge, where we took a moment to have an epic photo shoot (I will describe a LOT of things as epic as we continue... as that is the only word that comes close to some of the things we saw down south).
Erika & I doing our "New Zealand pose" (aka "look how small I am in comparison to this amazing scenery/I am having the time of my life!):
- The above picture was taken by a friendly Indonesian man, who happened to have parked his family's camper van on the same river bank (excellent work, sir!)
- The river water was vividly blue (about the colour of Erika's shirt) because of the temperature (I think I have mentioned this before).
It had been a while since the picturesque river stop and we were getting low on gas. Passing through "fruit" country, we had passed several fruit stands and just saw one for apples priced at only $1 NZD/kg (sweet!), next we marveled at two HUGE bulls we spotted in a paddock, then we passed what looked like a fire, but was just a farmer with a burn pile. Next, we refilled at a petrol station and got back on the road. A few minutes into the drive, we saw some more HUGE bulls, then another cheap apple stand ("There seem to be a ton of those around here, we should definitely stop at the next one," I said). "What is this?! Burn day?!" I commented, as we passed another farmer burning his pile of wood/rubbish... hmm looked a bit familiar. We had been driving in the wrong direction for quite a while...
Other highlights of the drive (besides our fabulous conversations) include another road side spectacle, perfect for a photo op - giant pieces of fruit!
and stopping at another fruit stand - have now tried Razberries (raspberry + blueberry?) = yum & kiwifruit flavoured chocolate = (surprisingly) not so yum.
We reached Queenstown around dinner time, and had a wonderful dinner of toast and canned tuna for me, toast and peanut butter for Erika (note - Americans eat much more peanut butter than any other nationality). Our hostel, Bumbles Backpackers, was amazing! Right on the water, only a short stroll from town, but separate enough to avoid being smack dab in the middle of the night scene and bar noise, we were in a six-bed room (more like a small cottage with a few roommates), where we had our own bathroom and single bed (no more bunks.. for now).
Our roommates were Phil (English) and Brian (Irish) - two quirky guys traveling around and enjoying Queenstown for its nightlife and daredevil bungy options.
Fun fact: The idea which inspired the bungy goes back to the people of Vanuatu on Pentecost Island in the Pacific, who performed their "land-diving" over thousands of years ago, flinging themselves from high towers with nothing more than a few mere vines tied to their feet. This ancient ritual eventually inspired the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club (a group of people, loosely based around Oxford University during the mid 1970's to late 80's, who pioneered many of what are now termed "Extreme Sports," to try a few experimental jumps back in the 1970's. After seeing some of their videos, in the '80s, New Zealand's own AJ Hackett invented today's modern commercial bungy, unveiling it in a dramatic PR coup in which he bungy jumped off of the Eiffel Tower in the summer of 1987! He then opened business at the first-ever bungy site - Queenstown's Kawaru bridge and has since expanded, creating several different bungies, including one off of the mountain gondola, 400 metres above the city, the Nevis and Nevis "Swing," where you fly 400 metres above the city and even one of the harbour bridge in Auckland.
I did not end up doing the bungy (saving all my money for skydiving nearer to the end of the semester.. wooo, definitely more on that to come). Anyway... it just so happened that Friday night was Phil's 30th birthday, so seeing as Erika and I were on our own for the evening (we did not pick Gabe up at the airport until the following morning), we signed up for the same pub crawl and had a girls' night out on the town (wearing our newly purchased outfits, of course).
Erika & I in our "going out outfits" (aka cute clothes + rain coats to make it to town without looking like drowned rats) because, oh did I mention?, it was POURING:
Lets just say it was a little too much fun, and I awoke with quite a bit of a headache in the morning, but overall, we had an excellent night, met some good people and danced the night away. 9 a.m. came bright and early the next morning and we poured ourselves into Sunny to get Gabe at the Queenstown airport. Later, we walked around town, through a nice little Saturday morning farmers' market. Queenstown is by far one of my favourite cities.
Me + Erika (in the NZ pose) by the lakeside:
A cute (albeit touristy), ski bird/snowboard bum village, it has a crazy night life, lovely shops, epic scenery, with snowcapped mountains encircling the lakeside gardens and city centre, and great food. Speaking of food, let us pause a moment to pay our respects to Ferg Burger - the best burger I have ever had... and that's saying a lot; I've had quite a few burgers in my day. Sorry In-N-Out and Red Robin Lauren, Saul, Jeff, Katy, Nicole - I know, never thought I would rate something over a Bonzai or Guac Burger did ya?. Saul - Don't worry, T.K. Burgers comes in at a very close second. This place had at least a 20 minute wait at all hours of the day. I have no idea when it closes; I saw it still packed at 2 a.m. They must rake in the dough.
After enjoying a bacon, pineapple, cheese burger, with all the sauce and fixins, that was the size of my face, strolling through the gardens and having a nice nap, I felt much better. We lounged in the hostel, made a spaghetti dinner (round 3? 4? in how many days? sheesh), then got ready and... yes, that's right, ventured out on the town once more. After all, we couldn't spend Gabe's first night of the holidays, or a Saturday, in our room. We ended up meeting up with the same girls, with whom I had chatted in Dunedin, and following the pub crawl group as they hoped from place to place (but not partaking in the festivities). I had an amazing night, thanks to Erika, Gabe and our two riots of a roommate. Back in time for a decent sleep, we went to sleep anticipating our next day's adventure to the famous Milford Sound!
Out on the town with Phil & Brian (Gabe was off dancing somewhere): Honestly, I have no idea who the Asian man and peace-sign-sporting woman popping their heads over our shoulders are...