Queenstown and Doubtful Sound
Queenstown | Day 13
What to do on the last day of my new favorite place?? I woke up so bummed knowing it was my last full day in beautiful Queenstown so I did my best to make the most of it. Kate, Anna and I headed over to Fergburger so I could get my Ferg fix. Holy crap is that place worth the hype! Amazing burgers- I thought the best part was the buns that they make next door at Fergbakery. I had the Southern Swine with beef, BLT, avacado, aioli and tomato relish...yum. Anyone going to Queenstown MUST have a Ferg fix...totally worth the hype (and if you go at an 'off' time there is no wait).
In the afternoon, Karen, Bastian and I headed up the gondola to check out the luge tracks. The views from the top are stunning and made me want to never leave (yet again). Speeding down the hill in a luge was fun and a good way to spend some time- it was over way too fast though. More rides should be included rather than just the two.
After getting our luge on, we got a snack at the cafe and then crashed hard in the lobby for a bit since we were all so tired.
A quick nap later and it was time for the Kiwi Haka- a live Maori 'cultural experience'. I love learning about Maori culture and hearing their legends about New Zealand so I was happy we were able to fit it in. I didn't know much about the haka beyond the fact that the All Blacks perform a haka at the beginning of every game.
From my good friend Wikipedia:
Haka are not exclusively war dances but were traditionally performed by men. In modern times, various haka have been composed to be performed by women and even children.
Haka are performed for various reasons: for amusement, as a hearty welcome to distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals.
There was a quick intro and welcoming by the Maori warriors before going into the theater. It was an informative show with the Maori performers taking the time to explain what was happening at various points. It was also 'interactive' meaning my awkward self was on stage attempting to dance with a poi and not slap myself in the face (barely successful). Basian (red t-shirt below) got to take part in the leg slapping, tongue out, screaming portion...I was legit jealous.
One 'me standing awkwardly with Maroi warriors' picture later and we headed back down the gondola to dinner....ahhhh just look at that beautiful water! We had a group dinner at Red Rock Bar- steak, potatoes and beer mmm. Afterwards, a few of us headed out to The Buffalo Club to play pool, do shotskis and dance. It was a great way to spend the last night in Queenstown.
Doubtful Sound | Day 14
Woke up early and hustled over to Ferg Bakery to pick up a lamb meat pie (ended up eating that for breakfast) and a scone (saved for lunch along with some fruit). Then we reluctantly piled back on the bus to head to Doubtful Sound. You can't actually drive all the way to Doubtful Sound so we drove to Manapouri and ate lunch on the grass while waiting for the ferry. Then it was a quick (but rainy) ride across Lake Manapouri to the buses on the other side.
Immediately after stepping off the boat we were attacked by sandflies. Uuuugggghhh. They are terrible little bugs that bite like crazy and are generally annoying...and there were hundreds of them. We ran onto the bus and began our drive over the Wilmont Pass. We saw lots of waterfalls and got our first glimpse of the sound (which is actually a fiord- hence why its part of Fiordland).
We arrived at our hostel in Deep Cove and immediately headed out for a hike. We did a quick loop to first learn about the area from our tour guides and hear about the history of the sound. Turns out it was initially called Doubtful Harbor 1770 as Captain Cook was doubtful they would be able to sail in or out of it. Also, I should note there are 200 days of rain (if they go more than 3 days without rain its considered a drought) so there is a ton of moss and general greenery.
Most of the group headed for a hike to Helena Falls, however I had hurt my ankle in Queenstown and the infection was pretty painful. I did a much less strenuous walk within Deep Cove and still got to see some amazing views...and got eaten alive by sandflies despite repeatedly coating myself in bullshit 'all natural' bug spray.
Everyone met back in the hostel for dinner cooked by our trail guides- it was fantastic! Nothing too fancy, just lots of roasted veggies and steak. It was the kind of dinner you could make at home- simple, healthy and not coated in grease or fat...aka the ideal meal for anyone traveling. They also made an awesome peach cobbler. Afterwards we settled in for movie watching- first up were all the adventure videos from Queenstown and then we watched The Invention of Lying before heading to bed.
Doubtful Sound | Day 15
The group was up early the next morning getting geared up for our kayak- the striped pink and purple thermals were sooo sexy. After making sure we'd stay warm and dry, our guides had us load up on bug spray (this time I opted for the DEET kind) before heading outside to face the swarm of sandflies. We had double kayaks so the front seat was for 'easy going, likes to take pictures' people- this was Kate in my kayak- and the back was for 'control freaks'. Ahem. I think we all know which one I was. Being the photographer, all these pics are from Kate's camera. The first hour or so wasn't too bad, we got to see penguins on Elizabeth Island and enjoyed the spectacular views. We had a quick stop to stretch our legs, pee and let more sandflies in our boat before heading back...turns out I forgot to bug spray a line around my ankles (itching for DAYS!). Now that paddle back was hard. It was a solid hour of paddling against the wind with a bunch of choppy waves. All I did was yell 'for the love of god just paddle!!' from time to time if there was any stopping...turns out sea sick Kristen is not very nice.
After a good arm workout we were tired and ready for lunch. We quickly scarfed down the wraps we made earlier before heading back to the ferry. While we were boarding, we saw a kea bird- a large, very curious and destructive parrot. Our CEO Vicky told us that kea's like to strip the rubber gaskets around car windows so you don't realize anything is wrong until you open the door and the window falls out. Sneaky little bastards.
We picked up the tour bus and headed out for Wedderburn in the early afternoon (sadly passing right on by Queenstown...so close and yet so far). Unfortunately we were only about half way there when our bus broke down in Cromwell and we had an impromptu pub dinner at Cromwell Brew House Sports Bar & Cafe. Major props to the awesome bartender and server who didn't bat an eye to 19 hungry people descending on their pub. We were served hot food quickly with no errors- you would be surprised with how often restaurants had trouble doing this for a group our size. For dinner, I had some wine from a winery just down the road- which was really good- and a delicious pizza. Furiously making calls paid off as Vicky was able to find us a plan B vehicle which was an old school bus. We climbed aboard after dinner and finished the last hour or so of our trip bouncing along with our luggage stuffed all around us. The awesome dinner and the fact that we felt like kids on our way to school made for a fun ride- glad we had such an awesome group that didn't let a little vehicle malfunction get us down.