Queenstown, ”the adventure capital of the world”, is known for its extreme adventure activities and adrenaline-filled experiences. Unlike the capital Wellington’s quirky vibe, this small town has the feeling of a mountain resort in the Northern Hemisphere despite that New Zealand is considered an exotic destination. A few streets cross the town center and the adrenaline rush is in the air. Most of the stores offer outdoors equipment, river jet boats depart the harbor, paragliders navigate the sky, and bungee jumpers scream of excitement (or fear).
Extreme activities are not my cup of tea and most likely I won’t do anything crazy to skyrocket my heartbeat. However, after admiring the spectacular view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the Skyline Gondola, the thought that we are in Queenstown and haven’t done anything extreme bothers our minds. We book a last-minute jet boat ride.
While all other riders put on black waterproof gear, we stand out with our orange and navy blue rain gear. We are excited to test it before our multi-day hike in the Southern Alps. My enthusiasm to capture the magnificent nature around quickly dies out when we learn that cameras are not recommended during the ride. Oh well.
So it begins. The driver makes everything possible to keep us thrilled and entertained. The jet boat makes 360° spins on Lake Wakatipu and the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. Huge and foamy waves crash into us. I am convinced that I am completely wet and already regret our preliminary confidence. We scream of excitement. I have so much fun I don’t want it to end. Faster and more furious is what I need. Exactly when you think the boat will collide with the concrete bridge, it pulls away and a bubbly water spray blurs your vision. We admire the magnificent nature and learn about the environment during the few quick steps. The breaks are also a great opportunity to snap a few photos with our phones.
An hour later, visibly soaked and freezing, we enjoy the evening sunlight and take in the picturesque harbor view. I have the ingenious idea to get ice cream while we shiver. Nothing is far away in Queenstown and after a short walk, we are back in our room. To my surprise and despite the wet feeling, we are completely dry. The new rain gear is promising.
The next morning we rush to catch a bus to Milford Sound – a beautiful fiord with waterfalls and usually bad weather. There are amazing photo opportunities ahead of us.
As I stress about getting ready quickly, I lock my suitcase and realize that I have just left the luggage keys inside. We will be hiking in the next few days and I won’t need anything else but my backpack. However, the adrenaline rush is incomparable. I will think about this later and try to figure out a solution. In addition to this already eventful morning, we nearly miss the bus. Not because of lack of time management skills. An elderly woman at the hotel reception takes too long to check out. My attempt to explain that we are in a hurry to take a bus is a voice in the wilderness. Luckily, the bus stop is around the corner and the bus is a few minutes late.