Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Zealand: South Island Road Trip (part 2)

Christchurch to Queenstown

We left Christchurch and started to head west towards Queenstown, since we had heard it was a happening city with plenty to see and do. On our @ 3.5 hour drive, we came upon the quintessential NZ sight...a farmer moving his flock of sheep to another pasture (paddock as they say). You must realize that the ratio of people to sheep in NZ is 3 million to 60 million. That's a lot of wool out there. Kiwi's are obviously used to seeing sheep everywhere. They didn't pause at all, but worked their cars through the woolen bodies. We, on the other hand, had all the time in the world to watch as they made their way past our rental car (without denting it). It was fun to watch the sheepdogs work to the sound of the farmer's whistle. They knew exactly what to do, much like this video.

On the way, we also stopped at beautiful Lake Tekapo and saw the Church of the Good Shepherd (one of the most photographed churches around).


We stopped in Omarama simply as a halfway point on our way to Queenstown. Not a lot to do except salmon fishing, hot tubs under the stars, gliding capital of the world, and an antiques/novelty store with some set costumes from the old TV series Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules.

Next day on our drive to Queenstown, we came upon the Kawarau bridge and the awesome bungy station there, both for jumpers and observers (us). It was a lot of fun to stay there awhile, even if we were too afraid to dangle upside down over the raging river below.

Queenstown is a busy resort town year round. Great hills make it a skiing destination in winter. Summer brings in people like us to do every imaginable outdoor adventure and extreme sport you can think of. Plus, there are plenty of outdoor restaurants and great shopping. We saw The Hobbit in 3D, since so many scenes from the movie were filmed, not only in new Zealand, but in and around the city. If you are a diehard LOTR fan, you might find this 7min. video interesting about set locations around NZ. We saw much of these beautiful scenery on our trip.

Another fun and unusal thing we did was to ride the gondola up to the mountain top to the Skyline Complex and then rode The Luge for awhile.
You can buy a package for as many rides as you want, on both a basic and advanced course. They were easy to control and it was so much fun.  Check out this video to test drive one yourself...
We thought we would do some hiking as well, but with all the walking we did around town and up and down steep hills, we figured we did at least a couple of "city hikes" (LOL). There is a great shop, DF Souvenirs with affordable NZ souvenirs in the main downtown shopping area. We also planned on riding the famous Shotover Jetboat, but due to bad weather, our ride was cancelled, but we got to do it later on in the trip in another city with family, which was much more fun. I heard from some kiwis that they don't think Queenstown represents the true New Zealand, because it is geared for tourists. But that was fine with us, and we had a lot of fun there.

Next stop...Dunedin (the city I was born and raised in)
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