February 24, 2023
Walked to the Fjordland visitor center in Te Anau this morning. Realizing we saw everything we wanted to see in the area, we got gas ($100 NZD) and drove back to Queenstown.
We parked the car and walked up to the Queenstown gondola, the steepest gondola in the southern hemisphere. We decided at the last minute to get the gondola ticket and two luge tickets per person. It’s an impressive view from the top. We spent several minutes just taking it in.
After that we headed over to the second chair lift to get to the starting point for the luge track. We all grabbed helmets and received instructions at the top of the track. Theresa needed many repetitions of the instructions. The instructor even mentioned that she might not be able to allow her down the track 🤣 Eventually she got the hang of it and away we went.
We had a blast zipping around the curves, gliding through tunnels, and dipping over steep descents. The only downer was when we had to slow down for the little kids ahead of us. We went from questioning why they didn’t offer a single trip down the luge to joy that we got to go twice.
After our luge joyrides, we scooped up some stuff from the gift shop and enjoyed ice cream cones atop the mountain. It was such a beautiful day, and we got to enjoy it in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
After our ice cream cones we went back to the car and drove up to the car rental at the airport to add Theresa and Josh as additional drivers. There were no problems parking the car and waiting while they ran inside and proved they have driver’s licenses. Things just run smoother here.
From the airport we drove up to the Kawarau Gorge suspension bridge, where bungee jumping originated. Josh and I braved the feat, each of us jumping 43 meters towards the pristine blue river below.
I was extremely nervous earlier in the day, but after seeing the bridge and the water below, I felt like I could survive it. The hardest part by far was stepping up to the edge and letting go of the pole. The instructor told me I had to let go of the pole and I told him I wasn’t sure I could 😂 But in the end, I let go and just leaned forward. There wasn’t going to be a jump coming from my paralyzed legs.
Theresa stayed to the side and captured videos of each of our jumps. It was fun to do it once in the only place on earth I’d ever do it. Challenge completed. Never again.
We took our adrenaline into the car and drove back down to Arrowtown, a quaint little gold mining town. The town was well preserved with a proper downtown street and riverfront offering lots of little shops and restaurants to visit.
I finally got the cheeseburger I’d been longing for. We all enjoyed our meals seated outdoors in the cool air and warm sun, all of us reflecting back on the amazing day we had.
From Arrowtown we drove up to Twizel where we were staying the night. On the way we passed copious wineries and fruit stands of the Central Otago wine region, as well as tons of beautiful, drought stricken mountains and valleys. The whole drive entertained us with places we would like to stop later in the week when we head south and west to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.
We got to Twizel and checked into our home, a 2 bedroom house with a full kitchen and bath where we’ll be staying a few days. In all, it couldn’t have been a better day.