I’m an avid survey-taker, and often I’ll get asked by Air New Zealand or the AA how much I travel within New Zealand (which is generally ‘not many, if any’), and then what is the reason why. Normally the reason is “I’m saving my dollars for overseas travel”, cos, duh, places like PARIS and LA and Palm Springs and New York exist in the world, and I wanna see ’em!
BUT it’s not all about what I want to see, and I have a husband who loves the hell out of snowboarding, who has a life-pass to Mt Ruapehu, and who has only visited the snow a couple of times since we’ve been together (some TEN-odd years, that is!). So it seemed only fair that one of our next trips away together should be to the snow, and seeing as he’d never been to Queenstown before (IKNOWRIGHT!), and has a fellow snow-loving cousin who could hook a cousin up with some mountain-side work-perks, it was a no-brainer for us to make a trip down to Q-town for some end-of-winter fun! Well, I say no-brainer, but actually there was a bit of arm-twisting on his part as I was mentally saving all my travel-monies for my upcoming trip to Melbourne… but more on that later.
We landed in the afternoon, met with Steve’s cousin and were given a quick tiki tour of the area (he was also the same cousin that gave us a quick tiki tour of Scotland some years ago, highly recommended if you ever need a speedy-but-knowledgeable tour of anywhere!). We took a car and explored the gold-mining town of Arrowtown, which was way closer to Queenstown than I remembered. Arrowtown was one of the (few) favourite memories I have of a South Island trip I did with my family when I was 14 (angsty teen away from friends? Let drama ensue), due to it being so gawddang pretty! Still as pretty, but much smaller than I remembered, we were treated to views of cherry blossom trees with snow-covered mountains looming in the background. Sah pretty! Much to my delight we also spied a completely empty riverside skate-park and had our first experience of local chocolate and ice-cream extraordinaires, Patagonia. We had a little daylight left, so we went for a quick park-up next to Lake Wakatipu in central Queenstown, and peered into its crisp, clear and most definitely chilly water. Also SAH pretty!
We hit the snow, and in my case, HARD. I’d never been on skis or a snowboard before, so I took a full day of snowboarding lessons on Coronet Peak, led by a friendly guy called Gaz. By the end of the morning session we realised I was on the wrong size board (tiny feet!), which made some of the moves a bit hard, and by the end of the afternoon session I realised I was in the wrong sized boots as my toes were screaming (not so tiny feet?). I also spent a lot of time on my butt, so i was well-soaked by the end of the day, and relished the hot shower I got to have once we got home. Steve spent the day up and down the mountain, sometimes dropping by to see how I was getting on in the lessons. He had one grumpy wife on his hands by the end of the day though! Pain and wet butt aside, I wasn’t put off for the next day on the mountain. Muscles all over my body were having something to say by that evening, not surprising as my day had pretty much consisted of being beat up by the mountain. We filled our bellies that night with the uber-famous Ferg Burger, and it was goood (even the gluten-free bun, which can be hit-or-miss affairs), and HUUUUGE! Fuel for our second day on the mountain I guess…
No lessons, just hitting the slopes by myself, or with Steve giving me guidance. With the right board and boots strapped to my feet I NAILED what we had learnt the day before, and was finally ‘snowboarding’. I had a go at a run further up the mountain (i.e. higher/steeper/faster), but was back to stacking it a lot as the cliffs and speed were making me SUPER nervous. I was keen to see the video footage Steve captured of me actually snowboarding, and was surprised to see how slow I was moving on the lower slopes… it felt way faster, I SWEAR! Oh well, just takes practice I guess, and apparently I did really well for the short time-frame, so yay! Skateboarding experience probably helped a wee bit.
We had totally crashed Steve’s cousin’s wife’s birthday week with our visit, so we all went out to dinner together that night, and walked around central Queenstown a bit. They’d painted a picture of a magical place where you could pick your own ice-cream pop, have it dipped in whatever chocolate you wanted from flowing fountains, and then have it coated in whatever sprinkles took your fancy, and you can imagine my reaction! We most certainly had to go there! It was another Patagonia Chocolates spot, and it was just as magical as expected. I had mint ice-cream, covered in dark choc, and rainbow sprinkles, and it was the business! We also visited a Cookie Time Cookie Bar, which was aaallll about milk, cookies, and epic freak shakes; it was pretty awesome, and I can imagine it being a great date night spot for teens (like the milk bars of yesteryear). Sugar comas were afoot.
We spent our last full day riding the Skyline gondola and luge, searching Bob’s Cove for pounamu (we think we found some) and skimming stones on the lake. The colour of the water in Queenstown is incredible; it’s all deep teals and blues, so clear, cold and pure. Team that with the snowy mountain backdrops and the colourful trees of either autumn, spring or summer, and you can’t help but feel your heart fill with the beauty of it all!
We finished off the day with home-made pizzas and the first Kingsman movie, and resting our weary bodies in preparation for our early wake-up (an hour even earlier thank you very much daylight savings). Oh and I think there was some election results that night… oh no wait, we’re still waiting on those.
We had a magical adventure in a magical place, and I would highly recommend anyone and everyone to visit Queenstown at least once! And if you live in NZ already, what are you waiting for??