Monday, March 7, 2011

Queenstown: The Adventure Capital Of The World

Carrie: "Uh oh, I forgot to take my lactaid pill."
Dan: "Are you going to start lactating now?"

We arrived in Queenstown on the afternoon of January 26th after several stops at fruit stands and orchards where we lightened the Free Dried Fruits and Nuts tasting tables. The weather cleared up as we got into town but it was a better choice to stay indoors as the ground was still wet from all of the rain. We opted for the cheapest place in town: The Pinewood Lodge, which provided us with a private room with 2 bunk beds and access to shared showers and toilets.

It was a sterile, dorm styled place and immediately made us appreciate the Palace Backpackers that much more. It was definitely clean and cheap but had the vibe that a lot of dunk bros from the states came to piss and vomit in their own beds every night after bungy jumping their money away. Maybe that's a bit harsh but it's true that the environment an establishment provides allows the way its patrons treat it. The Palace provided a warm kitchen with free shared food, spices, and a heated towel rack - all of which encouraged people to share their own food and take care of the kitchen. The Lodge was the exact opposite: nobody did each other's dishes - there were hardly any dishes to use to cook with.

We quickly picked up some chicken from the grocery store and made a big stir fry dinner with some fresh vegetables from our orchard stops. I was exhausted and used the internet while the boys made friends with some other Americans and we all went to sleep around midnight.

In the morning, I forced the boys out of the dorm and left them in the early afternoon (after a nap in the sun) to go explore Queenstown. The size difference between North Island and South Island "cities" became even more hilarious as I strolled around the quaint, busy streets of Queenstown. More mountainous and ski resort-esque in its feel, it reminded me a lot of Wanaka but more vibrant, touristy, and younger. I window shopped and met a nice Frenchman named Julian at a candy shop who convinced me to buy some fudge after one taste of the Creme Bruelee Fudge. The weather was perfect and the town thriving along the lakefront. I returned to the hostel to skype with my mom for a bit and almost missed my ferry ride around the lake with Mike! I ran all the way back into town in my flip flops and we just made it aboard.

The boat ride was a cheap $25 for a relaxing hour and a half ferry ride in gorgeous sunny weather. It was exactly what I wanted to do: sit, chat with Mike, and enjoy the mountains (known as the Remarkables) and million dollar homes lining Lake Wakatipu. After our boat ride we bout some chips (the best french fries I've ever eaten) and wandered around the amazing botanical gardens which line the lake front before returning to the Lodge to meet Dan and Tim after their exciting afternoon on the Canyon Swing.

We finished our day by going to FergBurger which we all immediately fell in love with and didn't mind how much our wallets were lightened by the experience: I got a chicken burger with sun dried tomato tapenade, aioli, tomato, onions, and lettuce and downed it with a ginger beer. FergBurger is terribly expensive (what isn't in Queenstown?) but their burgers are MASSIVE and DELICIOUS. We ate along the lake front watching a Canadian street performer while the sun set over the lake behind us. We went in search of our British friends Danielle and Will from the Palace Backpackers who we knew were in town and we managed to surprise them in their hostel and they joined us for ice cream: also expensive, also massive, also delicious. Our bellies were so happy and so full that night. We said farewell to Will and Danielle who asked us where we were staying that night (as it was now dark and getting late) to which we replied "We don't know!"

Off we drove out of town to search for a campsite. We drove to Moke Lake and were certain we'd driven the wrong way as it took forever and we kept driving through gate after gate of Private Property Signs in the dark. For the FIRST TIME Dan and I slept in the tent at the request of Mike and Tim who wanted to sleep in Adi. We survived the cold night to be woken up by Tim in the morning whispering that we needed to be quiet and stay inside the tent as the Ranger was there and Mike and Tim were going to tell him that they were the only two camping there. This was funny enough as it was, listening to Mike and Tim try and be sociable with the Ranger in the least sociable way possible, but Dan also had to pee really bad and was squirming around and finally peed out the side of the tent that the Ranger couldn't see. After some stealth passing of our belongings out of the side of the tent, Dan and I finally ran to the car when the Ranger wasn't looking and covered ourselves with blankets as Mike and Tim broke down the tent and jumped in after us. We hit the dirt road, glancing over our shoulders, proud of our stealth moves and ability to save money: a whole $14 worth.

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