I soon wanted to visit New Zealand once I made friends with some fellow counselors at camp. Camp seems to be a great way to create friendships all over the world! I have friends in England, New Zealand, Australia, Slovenia, and more! The more they speak of their home, the sudden desire to visit their homeland creeps out.
I didn't know much of New Zealand, but I learned about its green scenery, abundance of sheep, giant mountainous ranges, and the place to go for all Lord of the Rings fans.
Before moving to Australia, my boy wanted to go on a holiday soon after my arrival. He's got the snowboarding bug and suggested we go to Queenstown, New Zealand for a taste of their winter and adventure down their mountains.
I initially got excited for this trip because of the change of scenery. I grew up on the little island of Oahu in Hawaii, then the flat lands of Florida. I knew this would be a completely new site to see for me. Plus, we looked into scenic tours that pointed out they would take you to a Lord of the Rings filming location. We booked a tour with Skipper Canyon Jet because it was affordable and had a variety of what we wanted. You got a guided ride into the mountains, a jet boat ride within the mountains, and a nice little informative rest stop with tea. I loved getting to see so much up close and from far away that provided some background information to the area.
You see that river towards the right hand side of the picture? Down in there is where they shot the Lord of the Rings scene where Liv Tyler's character Arwen saves Frodo. In this clip it is the scene at 2:45. It's one small scene, but still surreal to see it in real life. I'm sure there were more, but that was the only one that looked familiar to me. (Seems more scenes were shot on the north island, and I was on the south island.)
This adventure probably embodies why I created my list the most. I like to stay in my comfort zone and am usually too scared/timid to branch out. So, let's talk snowboarding. I have had one quick lesson prior to this trip. I was way too frightened to continue trying, so I gave up after one day. However, this trip I was encouraged to just keep trying and pushed myself to keep at it.
We spent most of the first days going to The Remarkables, and while my boy spent his days up and down the mountain via chair lifts, I spent my time going up and down the beginners hill. Probably the best place for me, scare out of her mind beginner, to keep learning and gain confidence. I soon was able to go down the hill without falling over.
We also spent a day at Coronet Peak and I got a little more practice of beginner hills (3 to choose from) and even ventured out onto the chair lift. Their chair lift system was more advance and getting on was fine for me, but getting off was another story. If you fall getting off a chair lift, get out of the way as soon as possible! I had problems getting out of the way and the attendant laughed with me as she had to drag me out of the way.
After 6-7 days on the board, I felt more comfortable but I needed to gain more confidence by getting more control of where I'm going. We went on out last day to Cardrona, which was a bit further away. It was getting a bit warmer, but the snow was nice a fluffy there! We decided to get me a one-on-one lesson to get control of my board. This was so helpful and I recommend any beginner, especially one feeling a bit nervous, have one lesson, practice alone for 1-2 days, then have another lesson. (And a helmet, always a helmet!) I was feeling so good after my lesson and my instructor said I had it all along. I just needed to understand the workings of the board. I went on the chair lift again and was okay going down the mountain. This is now the thing I want to work of getting comfortable with, going quickly down without panicking. We didn't plan this to be our last day, but my boy wasn't allowed any snowboarding for the rest of our trip.
We spent our last few days roaming around the city of Queenstown. Lots of great places to eat! Our favorites were Flame Bar & Grill, Atlas Beer Cafe, Fergburger, and Ivy & Lola's (delicious chicken and waffles). That Fergburger (pictured above) was the biggest burger I had seen and so glad I decided to go with the regular burger, much smaller.
We decided one last adventure and take a scenic tour around the lake with Southern Discoveries. Turns out we were the only one booked for our time and the guide was friendly with some nice, intimate conversation. I got to take my time with pictures too.
Fun Facts I Learned While in Queenstown, NZ:
- It was named so because it was said to be "a town fit for the Queen."
- Lots of hills may be easy walking for most, but closely torturous for this Florida girl.
- You can drink the water straight from the lake, take a bucket and it comes up perfectly clear.
- Tons of people working there are usually from other countries on a gap year/working visa.
- It's a small tourist town, a lot smaller than I realized, but very friendly.
Let's go snowboarding again!