This post should have come before Omaru and Dunedin – I’m confused and trying to catch up whilst we have wifi. Sorry! Scroll down after this post and you’ll find the other entry. Xx
Our favourite Darth Vader breathing bus driver took us to Queenstown. We checked in at possibly the worst hostel of the trip so far. The only redeeming quality was that we had a room to ourselves, but it stank, sheets were dirty, kitchen was too grim Tto cook in and I got woken up by people loudly having sex in the disgusting communal bathroom, having lost one of my treasured ear plugs. And moving swiftly on….
Queenstown was so cool! It’s basically loads of nice shops and bars at the base of a huge lake with a nice beach. There’s lots to do and lots to see. We wandered the town, and then dropped into a tourist info office to book our bungee jump for the following day… Another activity that I forced Tom into doing. Poor soul.
We had the choice between a 43m jump off a bridge, or the ‘Nevis’ – 130m ish jump off a purpose built platform. Having seen a video of a fellow traveller doing the Nevis, we decided to go for the bridge – the Nevis looks bloody terrifying! The woman at the office also told us that we could jump together off the bridge, which made it seem less scary, and we could continue on the theme of “if we die, we die together.”
After that we went back to the hostel from hell and started watching “Jaws” on the laptop. I’m not sure why. Good film though. Then we popped out to meet Fabian again for a drink in his lovely hostel (more than slightly green-eyed) and then headed back home to bed.
The following morning was the day of the bungee!! We headed to the bungee office, and checked in. We mentioned that we wanted to jump together and the woman eyed us suspiciously, saying our weights needed to be within 30kgs of each other, and she wasn’t sure if they were. I found this absolutely hilarious because she clearly thought Tom was a right fat bastard because we were only 16kgs apart in the end! She then took a big green pen and wrote our bus number on our hands. I think she did this so that if you change your mind and run out in the street they can chase after you and force you onto the correct bus. We had a long sweaty-handed wait. The toilets were absolutely packed with people doing what you imagine people do when they’re terrified…
We then embarked on a twenty minute scenic drive to the Kawarau bridge. We didn’t appreciate this drive because we were panicking. We went into the centre to check in again and be weighed again. This time they write your weight on your hand in big red numbers. I spent most of the wait shuffling around embarrassed with my hand in one pocket. It didn’t help that there were loads of miniature Asian women who weighed like 50kgs. Felt like a right heffer!!
We then decided to go onto the bridge and see what we were in for. This made Tom panic more and me panic less. The river below the bridge was a stunning turquoise colour, and I realised that if my bungee snapped I’d just go for a swim!
Kawarau Bridge is where the world’s first commercial bungee jump took place. The originators took note of the Vanuatuan land jumpers (Karl pilkington hahaha) and made their own version in New Zealand.
The best thing about the whole operation is that when you’ve done a few bounces, two blokes in an inflatable boat come out into the river with a big stick to pull you down onto the boat and undo your bungy. For some reason I thought this was absolutely hilarious and I think I may have found my dream job!!
So on and on we waited, until we were finally re-weighed and then put our harnesses on. The instructed demonstrated how we would hold on with our arms around each other and under no circumstances were we to let go. I imagine if you let go you would be like a pair of conkers or something. We sat down near the edge of the platform and had a towel wrapped around our legs and tied together then attached to the bungy. You can see all this in the video. We then stood up and shuffle shuffle shuffled to the edge of the jump. (Very hard when your legs are tightly strapped together.) looking over the edge was terrifying. That was the scariest bit. We were told not to jump, but just to lean forward. We started to lean and then we
And did some bounces. It felt like when your car goes over an unexpected bump in the road, but multiplied by 1000. Tom’s fingers touched the water and splashed me. Then on the bounce back I’d forgotten to keep my head down (I always do this on roller coasters) and my head flopped about a bit. Idiot. Then we did a few more bounces and all of a sudden the boat with the big stick was coming to get us. Hehehe. We have more photos and video evidence. But as I said, wifi is shocking.
So we were done! I’m so glad we did it. And in the best place in the world too. We hopped back on the bus to Queenstown, eager to get there because we were due to be meeting up with Tom’s brother Billy and his mates.
It was a gorgeous day and we were enjoying wandering the town and the feeling of having survived death. We walked along the beach, then headed to the supermarket when we get a text from Billy saying “we’re on the beach, come meet us!”
So we must have walked right past them. How funny! Tom crept up behind Billy and wrestled him. It was really good to catch up and it felt completely surreal yet completely normal! We went out for a few drinks that evening and Billy’s lot went on a bar crawl concluding with a 5am swim in the lake. I think I’m getting old…
The next day we were up early for the 7am bus to Milford Sound. Guess who was driving?? You guessed it! Deep breathing Vader bus driver of course!
The bus had a glass roof and I couldn’t figure out the point of it until we got closer to fjordland and the mountains got bigger and bigger until you could only see the tops of them through the bus ceiling. The scenery was incredible. We came through a mountain tunnel into a valley area where we were surrounded by enormous stone mountains. On the return journey it was raining, and there were waterfalls coming down all the mountain sides. The scenes we saw are so hard to put into words and photos don’t do then justice. It was a long journey, but probably the best bus journey I’ve been on.
When we reached Milford Sound, we left Billy and co, who were staying in the village. We headed onto a cruise boat to see the sounds from the water. I was a little apprehensive about this, but the boat wasn’t very big and there was a buffet which we didn’t pay for which kept most of the annoying people busy whilst we were out on deck in the wind. Author of the Jungle Book, Rudiard Kipling described Milford Sound as “the eighth natural wonder of the world,” and you can see why. The scale of the mountains was insane. We had a cloudy day but it made it really atmospheric. We stopped at one point to see a big seal colony. The seals are nocturnal and they were all so sleepy and funny during the daytime.
Milford Sound is definitely one of my favourite places in New Zealand, and our trip so far. It was absolutely stunning, and even in the height of the busiest season it still feels so untouched. I’m so lucky lucky lucky