NZ10+ : Day 23 : QUEENSTOWN

CONTEXT: The ‘Gondola’ referred to below is a sort of mini-theme park, built into and up the side of one of the main hills surrounding Queenstown. You, unsurprisingly, take a gondola up to one of the ‘levels’ and then you can take part in activities that include a luge track and a “running jump” bungee. Back on the ground, Queenstown also featured an indoor crazy golf course.

Tuesday 08/04/08

(Writing on the 12th)

(Writing four days on, in Kaikoura! Seriously behind! In a cafe having breakfast/dinner at the moment. A bit worried about my credit card not working yesterday, so I will sort my accommodation out next asap)

So, I woke up late in Queenstown without a real plan of action, other than to send off the postcards back home. I wandered down to the town and spent a good 20 minutes looking for a post office, as I could not see one on my map. Having sent the postcards finally on their way, I started mooching around for presents for Hazel. I spotted a hand knitted beanie made from New Zealand sheep-wool that I came back later on that day to buy. I also had a vague plan of buying some lemon juice and new insoles for those bloody trainers, and then to “knock on” for the guys at Base hostel a bit later on.

But then I stumbled across Laurence in the street with a few new folks and so a quick KFC later and we’re heading up the gondola theme park to watch Jimmy do his running-bungee jump. I had seen the guy’s photos online of their gondola adventures and crazy golf course activity whilst I had been in Te Anau. I was quite glad they were all going up again, else I’d have been going up on my own.
The view from the cable-car (and bar) were pretty amazing, and watching a pile-up on the luge track was also good fun.

Jimmy was too early for his bungee, so one pint became two pints before he took a running jump. The running jump towards the edge is the only real USP about this jump to me, not the height. After Nevis, it looked almost tame. But I still didn’t pay up for a go myself.

The guys went to watch a rugby team that were in training nearby, so I went to play a lonely game of golf at the indoor crazy golf centre. Stephen had mentioned that there was a pub quiz in Altitude that night, so I arranged to meet them all again there later.

I bought Hazel’s beanie, the insoles for my trainers, and two lemons. Why I didn’t just buy actual lemon juice I don’t know. What followed then was a military operation to squeeze the juice of two lemons into a mug, and hoping that Mark hadn’t been winding me up about this all working. I then had to rub the mix into my trainers and sneak them into the washer/dryer without any staff seeing me. It was a mixed success. In the end, I ripped out the old insoles entirely, which had the most affect. There is still a slight pong, but it may have been enough to try and wear them… Although I haven’t done so yet, and need to try before the flight.

I was also resolved to getting a proper sit-down curry, to make up for the previous night’s disaster. I almost backed out of the idea and went for a second Fergburger, but the restaurant that I had seen had a proper description of a Madras, none of the coconut nonsense I had seen at other curry houses, and so the temptation won out. I actually ended up ordering the Chicken Kadhai, a Garlic Chilli Chicken style dish. The poppadum and the dips section wasn’t great, but the curry itself was amazing, and more than made up for the vindaloo from the other day.

Strange how much I am writing about food, but it made me really happy! Probably for two reasons. The first being that I had simply missed the taste, and the other that in the absence of activities, people to talk to, or things to do, I find myself focusing on food as something to look forward to.

(As I’m writing this in Kaikoura, I am thinking about tonight’s BBQ and hoping to do something a little better than yesterday, where I ended up with frozen burgers…)

With a full belly and a smug grin, I then headed to Altitude. The three lads that had moved into Laurence & Co’s dorm were all sound, and agreed to be on our team for the quiz. This was incredibly lucky because the DJ, in a stroke of genius, was recycling quiz questions from the week before, which these three guys knew all the answers for!

There was also meant to be a prize for the best team name, and Jimmy’s suggestion was a sure-fire winner. But seeing as how we had a perfect score (from knowing all the answers) the DJ threw a wobbler and said “I’m not giving a prize for best name now, as they are all rubbish.”

I reckon he just didn’t want us to win twice. Jimmy’s name was “If a Quiz is Quizzicle, what’s a Test?” He wrote this on my “Bar-Fly” t-shirt that I had brought out for everyone to sign. I thought it would be a good idea to write all of our various catchphrases on it. A good way to remember everyone, although I of course missed the signatures of Ciara, Oz, Steve, Judders and Tom. Maybe I can grab the latter four in Manchester.

We ended up in World Bar, Laurence told me he loved me, and we met two sisters from Nottingham whose Dad apparently makes and designs toys, including Transformers. Drunkenly, I got them to write their Dad’s email on the shirt. Who knows if I’ll email him or not? I lost track of the lads at some point, they were drinking faster than I was, so once again I sneaked off “early” from my last night, though it was the last full night with the lads in Queenstown.

SOUNDTRACK: “We Are The Champions” by Queen. Because of the The Quiz and Queenstown!


Not much to add here, except to laugh at the ridiculousness of me still trying to clean up a pair of mouldy trainers, carted around with me all the way from Rotorua!

Also, even though there was a fair few people that I could now spontaneously sort of just hang out with, it was still slim chances that I could get anyone to play crazy golf on the same course they had been on yesterday! As such, one of the most surreal experiences and memories that I have, is of insisting that I visit the golf course and play a round solo if needs be… Which is exactly what happened of course.

It became incredibly awkward as I sped my way through each hole. I wasn’t waiting to take turns with anyone after all! I kept catching up to larger groups in front, and awkwardly waiting for my turn. Eventually they would let me go first so that I could overtake, but that was even worse as I would then have ten pairs of eyes watching me play a solo round, and getting it completely wrong due to the performance pressure! As mentioned previously, a day is a long time to kill, and so doing solo crazy golf at the time made perfect sense, even though I laugh about it now.

Queenstown ‘gondola park’ also had another bungee opportunity, and despite my earlier affirmations that Bungee jumping is a totally transformative experience (it is!) and that I want to do another one now (present day) evidently the impact hadn’t set in back then, as I was still nervous or apprehensive enough not to join Jimmy in doing the running-jump bungee. I may have been worried about spending at this point. Notice that this entry was written a few days later when I am in Kaikoura, and I have just noticed that my credit card doesn’t work anymore… I may have also been hiding any apprehension behind some faux bungee-snobbery. “Well, I‘m not paying to do a mere 50-metre jump, not after I’ve done THE NEVIS. Pah!”

Finally, the quiz incident was hilarious. The three new guys (Andy, Lewis and Greg) were slightly out-numbered by six or seven of the ‘original’ gang in the quiz team (they were big teams, so tough questions) and to begin with, they seemed a bit quiet. However, the three of them seemed to have a quiet confidence in speaking up more as the quiz went on. It was like a penny dropping between all three of them, as they realised in an instant that “this is last week’s quiz!”

With this new knowledge in hand, that the DJ was too lazy to write new questions each week, we corrected our earlier answers and even predicted the last few, as the new guys began to remember what order some of the questions came in. To add insult to injury (and to wind the DJ up for being so lazy in his quiz design) we even made our tie-breaker joke-answer the same as the winning joke from the week before.

I think teams marked each other’s papers, and when the DJ went to verify ours, we drew against another team who had also been there the week before. Realising he had been rumbled by two teams, the DJ threw a wobbler! I think we were meant to get some free drinks as a prize, but I don’t recall getting any!

It was good to meet three new guys, and the quiz made sure we all got on famously, though they pointed out that “if we know all the answers from last week, we don’t need you guys anymore!” Too late lads – we’re all in the Scooby Gang now. The three of them were carrying on past Christchurch and back up North on mostly the same route that I was on, and so it I was good that I was already making new friends for the second ‘half’ of the trip.