Queenstown, New Zealand November 1-5, 2007
Welcome to the self proclaimed “Adventure Capitol of the World” known as Queenstown, New Zealand.
Here, enterprising Kiwi’s have devised every conceivable way to sell adrenaline pumping sports and activities at overly inflated prices designed to suck every last dollar out of the pockets of travelers. People from all over the world flock here to bungy jump, canyon swing at 150kph, jet-boat through tall canyons, heli-snow board, hang glide, 4-wheel drive, hot-air balloon, abseil off cliffs, zip-line adventure, kayak, rock climb and more. Ironically, those are the average sports. Enthusiasts add twists like naked bungy jumping or bungy jumping from a paraglider, canyon swinging backwards and blindfolded, etc. If you afford it, you can do it here. If you can dream it up, you can sell it here.
First night we booked into Southern Laughter hostel, which must be the lowest rated hostel in all of New Zealand, and we pay for the good fortune we had been enjoying everywhere else. The name is appropriate since the owners must laugh every time they sell a room. The kitchen was filthy with most utensils missing or broken, they cater to the bus crowd despite advertisements stating the opposite, the guests stay up all night partying and every entrance is a smoking area where 18-25 year old smokers huddle around open doors sucking butts at all hours of the day or night. We froze in our room sleeping with the window open to dilute the smoke wafting through the halls and under our door.
Next night we move to Deco Backpackers where the scene is completely opposite. We grab a huge double room with clean facilities and get a special 4th-night rate. Now we’ve got a well-appointed clean kitchen with tons of refrigerator space to store our food, free Wi-Fi for our laptop (impossible to find) and a great group of guests to visit with.
Upon many recommendations we had to check out a local burger joint called Fergburger where we found the place packed at all hours of the day or night. It takes two hands to even hold a burger.
One taste explained all the fuss and we ended up eating there twice in four days. The food is incredible, the portions enormous for the price, and the concept is original. Our only hope is that the inevitable franchising of Fergburger won’t change the quality or appeal.
While in Queenstown we inquired about getting our paragliding certifications so we would be able to buy equipment and jump anywhere in the world. Unfortunately the weather would not cooperate and we could not begin the 3-5 day course. We knew there were expensive flights coming up for us in the coming weeks so we decided to skip all the expensive activities in Queensland and save our money. Instead, we took up Frisbee golf almost every day and learned that the free activities are usually the most fun on our trip. Rain or shine we found that it was hard to beat a cheap picnic lunch and free Frisbee golf in the park. Truth be told, the cold rainy weather probably saved our budget because it would have been too easy to rationalize the expensive activities if it was warm and sunny. ☺