Queenstown bills itself as the “Adventure Capital of the World”. You can do just about any adrenaline fueled sport imaginable here: Mt. biking, white water rafting, kayaking, abseiling, skiing, sky diving, paragliding, hang-gliding, canyon swinging, jet boating, river surfing, and of course, bungee jumping- which was invented here. The trouble with traveling to an adventure sports mecca, or any other mecca for that matter, is that every other bloody tourist in the world goes there too, eager to shell out enormous amounts of cash to take part in every experience. As always in these situations, demand far outweighs supply, and prices have inflated accordingly. This left us with a slightly embarrassing decision to make- could we come all the way to Queenstown, the Shangri-La for extreme sports addicts, and not partake in the adrenalin fueled mania? Well, to be blunt, yes.
Considering we would have to sell ourselves into indentured servitude if we had any intention of really “experiencing” all that Queenstown had to offer, and the fact that there are loads of places in the world where you can do the same types of activities for a lot less (though admittedly not all in the same place), we made the prudent decision to hold off on the extreme sports for the time being and explore the calmer side of Queenstown.
We started our time in Queenstown in good spirits brought on by the beautiful weather the day we arrived. Earlier, on the road to Queenstown from Fairlie, which goes right past a giant lake with the iconic Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak, looming at the far end, the bus stopped to give everyone a chance to take a few photos. We felt lucky to be treated to such a clear view of the impressive mountain, considering how ugly the weather had been the previous couple days, but the feeling was tinged with regret that we weren’t claiming this view from the saddles of our bikes.
Once we got to Queenstown, we started off by looking for a new rear tire for my bicycle, and were only slightly disappointed when we learned that it would take a few days to come. This would give us some time to check out Queenstown without feeling rushed to get back on the road. Over the next few days we spent a lot of time relaxing and people watching on the pebble beach at the town’s center, played a few rounds of frisbee golf, strolled through the impressive botanical gardens, poked into the abundance of shops and boutiques that have been so rare up until now, stuffed our faces with absurdly massive and delicious hamburgers from the local’s favorite Fergburger, spent an evening at the casino walking out $40 up from blackjack, hiked to the top of a nearby mountain for an amazing view of the long Lake Wakatipu on whose shores Queenstown sits, and once the tire did come in, we took a pleasant ride out to the historic former mining village of Arrowtown and continued on to complete a circuit of the local vineyards. All in all, Queenstown was great to us, even if we didn’t see it bouncing on the end of a bungee rope.