Jean was better on waking this morning, so, after breakfast, we wandered along to the gondola skylift that takes you up the hill behind Queenstown. Massive queue, with literally coachloads of Chinese appearing and trying to push in, but we finally got to the ticket office and purchased a return gondola ride with two luge rides each.
I use the word “luge” advisedly. We were not about to slide down the hillside on a tin tray Winter Olympic style, but we were planning to ride down in plastic steerable trolleys on a custom track. Pics later might make this clearer.
Finally got onto the gondola on the first part of the experience for a five-minute steep ride up to the main Skyline station above Queenstown.
Once up there, we took even more pics from the observation deck. This really is a beautiful spot.
We then had to take a chairlift up to the next stop for the start of the luge run down to the main Skyline station. Jean was a bit apprehensive about this, as dismounting from a chairlift on a skiing holiday had proved a bit traumatic in the past, but we scuttled off the chairlift at the top with no problems.
We then queued for quite a while for our luge experience. We decided to go down the blue run for our first foray, then take stock and see if we wanted to do the red run.
|This is actually the finish of the luge|
Finally we got there and had basic tuition. Pull the handlebars back to brake, move them slightly forward to let gravity take charge, and steer them by turning the bars left and right. We also had our wrist stamped to prove that we had done at least one trip.
Off we set – all really rather fun. Bit of schadenfreude when one kid shot past me, then ended up going too fast into a corner and having to slam his brakes on to the extent that he couldn’t get going again. “Serves you right!” I shouted smugly as I went past him.
Down into the finish. I had enough time to get out of the luge and take a picture (or two) of Jean coming in. I was allowed to include this one:
Back up the chairlift we went for our second ride. I elected to take the red run, and Jean the blue again.
The red was certainly rather more challenging, but actually even more fun. Steeper, twistier, proper banking and some blind summits. At least I can now say I’ve done something reasonably adrenalin-inducing in Queenstown…..
A couple of beers were quite definitely indicated after that.
Ziplining next. After a bit of faffing around, we decided to go for a four-line zip which included an eco-tour. This may sound a bit odd, but it actually worked rather well. At the end of each zip, we had a short presentation from our guides about the work that was being done on the sustainability of resources, fauna, flora and history of the area. The first three zips were all around 80 metres, but the last was around 250 metres. We were all set various challenges, such as no hands, riding upside down, stepping off backwards, etc. I finally managed no hands on the final zip! Great fun again and very well organised. Some of the profits from this venture go towards funding sustainability projects in the area.
After all this excitement, we went to the restaurant here, which had actually been talked up as a good place to eat.
It was. Great views, good food served buffet-style (the minestrone soup was fab and we both went for the “traditional English” (?) roast beef with all the trimmings. Haven’t had one of those for MONTHS. Brilliant.
(Mind you, the roast potatoes weren’t up to snuff. Oh no, not at all……. However, LASHINGS of gravy made up for that to some extent).
A very nice bottle of Pinot Noir also made up for the poor quality roasties.
Back down the mountain in the gondola for a walk back to the hotel, to be faced with packing and using the guest laundry for washing. These things are important, you know…..
Shortish drive (two and a half hours) in prospect to Invercargill tomorrow for a one-night stay before our short flight to Stewart Island on Saturday.
A last (possibly) shot of Queenstown on what was turning into a nice evening. I really can see why people love this place.