Now for the biggest, busiest and most expensive part of the trip! Wanaka and Queenstown. The capitals of cool, both in temperature and style.
Wanaka kind of reminds me of a baby Queenstown. Sitting right on the edge of Lake Wanaka, the hustle and bustle of the bars and restaurants, constantly brimming with customers, fills the air as passers-by admire the beautiful food. Both Emily and I had come to the conclusion that we had earned ourselves a proper meal, with real fresh vegetables, and not anything that resembled packaged food. We spoilt ourselves at Lake Bar with the Roast Vegetable Salad and a huge helping of Calamari. Afterwards, we continued to treat ourselves at the Gin & Raspberry cocktail bar nearby, where we sat before this beautiful view of the lake (seen below) and drank gin cocktails in the summer evening light.
I enjoyed Wanaka mostly for it’s relaxed vibes and buzzy environment. I honestly could have sat in that bar all night just looking out at the view and probably would have drank myself to sleep with their delicious cocktails given the chance. Instead, we left and purchased our final treat of the day, an ice cream. Not any ice cream, but Patagonia Chocolates’ ice-cream. Their Macadamia and Dark Chocolate ice cream was like something I have never tasted before. Pure perfection, mixed with a bit of greediness and naughtiness. 100% recommend these huge scoops of decadent desserts.
The following day was one that required two big bowls of cereal for breakfast. All I could think was, “today is the day I am going to bungy jump off a ledge, for the third time in my life.” I was just as scared as the first time I did it, but obviously I tried to put on a brave face. Thankfully, in attempt to distract my fear-stricken mind, we stopped off at Puzzling World in Wanaka before driving to Kawarau Bridge. I was certainly relieved that I hadn’t indulged in another gin cocktail the night before when I walked into the illusion room of Puzzling World and was confronted by angled floors that a sense of delusion and confusion as I tried to walk to the end of the room without falling over. The end result looked a bit like this…
After returning to reality, I pumped myself up for the imminent leap of faith I was to take only an hour and a half away from Wanaka. Kawarau Bridge is the first original AJ Hackett Bungy location, standing at 43 metres above the river below. Now…when I say 43 metres for some reason it doesn’t seem that high, as if anything under 100 metres can’t be that bad. I’m now not so sure why I believed that. I had forgotten how high 40+ metres really is. The angst and anticipation I felt as we were weighed and signed our lives away at the counter, and then had to walk along the bridge as all the spectators from the bus cheered and shouted words of encouragement. In reality, I couldn’t actually feel my legs.
What I found amusing was that the staff were so casual and unphased about the close proximity of the 43 metre drop beside them, as if desensitised by it all. Out of curiosity, I asked one of the guys on the bridge how they had got the job, thinking that they had to do a course or maintain special qualifications of some description. He replied that he was “just looking for a job”. My trust in the team somewhat dwindled after that as they tied my legs together and helped me towards the ledge, whilst another part of me was considering my alternative career in bungy-jumping.
Safe to say I managed to jump off the bridge in under 5 seconds, leaping immediately after the countdown. I figured that the longer you wait, the worse the fear gets. Emily was equally as ballsy. By the end of it, both of us had great, gleaming smiles on our faces, paired with slight nausea and lightheadedness. There is no thrill quite like the feeling of free-falling, experiencing those split seconds of feeling like you are flying, before the bounce back up reminds you that your feet are attached to what is essentially a large elastic band.
BUT now I can say for the third time…
Bungy Jump: been there, got the T-shirt (again)!
No less than two hours after we had plummeted head-first towards our liquid fate in the river, we were sat in a Shotover Jet skimming and swerving over another. The Shotover Jet is another activity unique to New Zealand. At parts of the river around Skippers Canyon, the water only reaches up to 10cm-20cm, giving very little room for a normal boat to cruise through. Therefore, the Shotover Jet, with it’s powerful engines giving it the ability to reach speeds of up to 85km/hr, can shoot over shallow waters without even touching the riverbed. Obviously, these speeds combined with the surrounding canyons is enough to attract thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies from all over the world. The experience lasts around 25 minutes, and includes multiple 360 degree turns and even a little bit of history from the driver about the business. Once again, similar to the bungy jumping staff, some of the drivers began with next to no experience, but after an intense course of approximately six weeks, they are put in charge of these monster jet boats. Perhaps another potential career choice? That would make quite the conversation starter.
Much to our relief, Emily and I arrived back at the hostel, Nomads, and were able to slump onto our comfortable (thank god!) beds. It was only until then that we realised how hungry we both were. There was really only one option, as we were in Queenstown: Fergburger. Infamous for it’s incredible burgers and unprecedented popularity in Queenstown, Fergberger has accumulated quite the reputation among New Zealanders and tourists over the years. Honestly, I do not blame them. I would definitely put Fergburger in my Top 3 for making the best burgers I have ever had, up there with Burger Burger and Burger Fuel. Burgers that are great tasting as well as good value are the ones to look out for, and you know what the best part is? It only cost me $12.90 and the burger was almost as large as my face. If that isn’t good value, I don’t know what is!
That is my kind of food-coma inducing deliciousness. Fresh ingredients, big servings and some seriously awesome flavours. Yes. Please.
If you’re wondering, the burger on the left is the Tropical Swine ($13.90) and on the right, the Bombay Chicken($12.90). A perfect meal to have the night before another big adventure to Milford Sound.
If anyone has any burger recommendations, leave them in the comments below!
Stay cool kids x