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South Island Trip: Queenstown

Written by Cathy Siegismund
March 2002

We wanted to spend a week in Queenstown, so with Jason and Tam we rented a great house in Queenstown. Ed and Rachel also joined us in the house for a few days as they too were touring the South island.

Our awesome Queenstown rental house

The house was terrific, it was three bedroom, 3 bath and had a breathtaking view of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Remarkable Mountains and Eyre Mountains.

Queenstown View Panorama Coming Soon

As cruisers, we also enjoyed some of the luxuries the house had, such as a fireplace, washer/dryer, a huge fridge and freezer and a dishwasher! I'm sure these don't sound like luxuries to many of you, but if you do without them for a few years, they start looking pretty good.

Amazing view from the house

We unpacked and got settled into the house and went grocery shopping. We decided to take advantage of the great kitchen, so we all took turns cooking all but one night when we went to a wonderful restaurant.

Ken barbequing on the deck

The weather was clear and sunny, so we decided we should sign up for some of Queenstown's extreme adventure activities for the following day.

We signed up for a morning of jetboating on the Shotover Jet, and an afternoon of bungy jumping.

Shotover Jetboating

The jetboats fly up and down the narrow Shotover River canyon, turning 360 degrees within the boat's length and can travel in less than 4 inches of water.

Shotover River


Shotover Jet boat in action

Ken and I in the front with Ed, Rachel, Jason and Tam in the second row

That afternoon, three of the six of us, took complete leave of our senses and signed up to bungy jump at A.J. Hackett's Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of tourist bungy. The idea for bungy jumping actually came from the local people of Vanuatu an island group we plan to visit next year.

Kawarau Bridge - the world's first bungy site

To see more photos of Ken, Rachel and I being foolhardy, see the Bungy Jump Photo Gallery

The following day, the girls kicked around Queenstown, having lunch and window shopping. Jason and Ken again went dirt biking, and Ed went rock climbing. That evening, we were treated to a beautiful sunset and enjoyed dinner at the house to celebrate Ed and Rachel's last night, before they took off to continue exploring the South Island.

Beautiful sunset in Queenstown

Ed and Rachel

The following day we woke to a bit of a rainy day, but Tam and I had reserved a one-day horse trek out of Glenorchy, a town at the end of Lake Wakatipu.

Even raining mornings are beautiful in Queenstown

As it was not a great day, there were only three of us on the horse trek, and despite the weather we saw lovely views and enjoyed some galloping along the same terrain where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

Tam riding in Glenorchy

Chester, my horse for the day



Beautiful scenery around Glenorchy

On Easter weekend, Jason, Tam, Ken, and I drove to Wanaka, an hour drive from Queenstown, to see Warbirds over Wanaka. Wanaka is a lovely small mountain town with a population of 3,500, which every two years is host to a vintage air show that brings in over 100,000 visitors.

New Zealand precision flying team

See Warbirds over Wanaka Photo Gallery.

After watching all the aerobatic flying, Ken was inspired to do one more adventure activity - aerobatic flying with Actionflight in a Pitt Special.

Ken had been wanting to try this, and although we woke to a cold morning with snow in the hills, the weather was clear enough for a flight. The Pitt Special is a very small biplane specifically designed for aerobatic flying.

Snow on the mountains around Queenstown


Ken in the Pitt Special

Ken and the pilot took off from the Queenstown airport. I couldn't see the aerobatics from the airport, but Ken said they did rolls, a figure-8, flew upside down, four-point roll, among other maneuvers.

The day we left Queenstown, we work to a sunny and cool morning with a line of snow crowning the surrounding mountains. We took the chance to take a ride up the nearby gondola, which provides breathtaking views of Queenstown and the surrounding area.

Gondola Panorama (349 kb download, Java required)

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