After over 6 hours of driving, we were ready to arrive already! It’s funny because when you look at a map of the south island, the towns really don’t look that far apart. But each destination is 5+ hours away from each other. So it feels like we spent 1/2 of our trip in the car.
The drive approaching Wanaka, was breathtaking. And then, it started pissing down rain once we landed there. Of course. It was getting late, and we had no idea where to set up camp, and the weather was just crap. On that note, we decided to keep driving to Queenstown, since it was less than 2 hours away. Every single person I’ve talked to about Queenstown, absolutely raves about it. So we definitely wanted to spend a good few days here. Next time we will spend some time in Wanaka.
Ah, how do I describe the drive into Queenstown? Breathtaking. You’re driving through the mountains, and then you approach an incredible view of the Otago Region. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. I just kept thinking to myself “this looks like a painting. Am I dreaming?”
We kind of pictured Queenstown to be similar to Auckland, with lots of buildings and towers, but it’s not at all. No matter where you are in Queenstown, you have the view of ‘Lake Wakatipu’. I have never seen a body of water so blue. It looks like they poured blue food colouring in it. You also have a ski resort RIGHT in the middle of the town. At the top of the resort, you could see people paragliding off the mountain, soaring over the beautiful town.
We arrived about an hour before sunset, with no clue where we would be staying. Patrick was VERY tired and irritable. He really wanted to stay in a hotel (but I wanted to stick to our ‘camping’ trip). Plus, every single hotel, motel, and hostel, read “no vacancy”. I’ve heard it’s always busy here in the winter, but I had no idea it would be this busy in summertime. We drove to one hotel with vacancy, just to see how much they would charge. It was almost $200 for the night, and I said hell no. At this point, we both would have killed for a bed, and hot shower. Well, a shower at all. Our source of bathing was jumping into glacier water and lakes. Haha, don’t judge us.
We had one of those prepaid Vodafone pocket wifi devices, but we were trying to use it as little as possible. I turned it on to find a local campground, and of course the cheapest one was 24 km away. But, we went, and Patrick was NOT happy about it. haha. We were driving for awhile, and then started driving on a sketchy dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Patrick started throwing a little hissy fit saying “you’re taking us to the middle of nowhere. We could be in a hotel room right now… blah blah blah”. I kept saying “hush, just wait”. I had a really good feeling about this. When we FINALLY arrived, a nice little lady welcomed us (the grounds lady) we paid for the night, and drove in. We were approaching a car that looked familiar for some reason. The guy we met in Franz Josef: Mat, from Auckland, drove a car very similar to it. I yelped, “Oh my gosh, it’s Mat!” So we parked next to him to set up camp. What a small world. Patrick was still in a pissy mood, especially because I brought us to a BEAUTIFUL camping spot, and he didn’t want to say “Ok, you were right”. I know he was thinking it, but I just let him have a little pity party by himself. 🙂 Definitely the most beautiful and serene place we’ve ever camped at. You’re literally in the middle of a valley next to ‘Moke Lake’.
We stayed up under the full moon, talking and telling stories with Mat and sipping on wine and whiskey. Did I mention how COLD it was here? Oh my hell. I’ve lived in Alaska, so I DO have room to talk. It was straight bitter cold. I wore 5 layers of clothing, and 2 pairs of wool socks, and I still couldn’t feel my toes or any part of my body. Patrick on the other hand, wore socks with flip flops, board shorts, a light sweater, and a beanie. Psycho! Ah, the worst part: once we nestled into our sleeping bags, and eventually got “warm”, we had to pee. I literally just tried to hold it all night because I didn’t want to get cold again, but of course that only lasts so long. BRRRR.
The next morning, we went for a chilly hike around the lake. Beautiful!!!
Then we drove back into town for breakfast. We randomly saw MAT while we were there. Again, small world! We went to the information centre to look at trips for Milford Sound (since that was our next destination). Before we left on our trip, we were going to book an overnight ferry ride into Milford Sound. It was quite pricey, and I had already spent a lot of money on the helicopter ride, so I didn’t book it. But, considering we didn’t get to go on our helicopter tour, we REALLY wanted to do SOMETHING big. Unfortunately, since we waited so last minute, the price had doubled. To have a ‘shared suite’ with another couple, it was about $600 total. Grrr. So we booked a sea-kayak/hiking tour instead. We also booked BUNGY jumping for Patrick. This crazy adrenalin activity was created by AJ Hackett Bungy in QUEENSTOWN. Patrick figured he may as well do it in the place it was created! 🙂 As we were driving there, I was looking at my American bank account to make sure my funds had been returned from Franz Josef. I noticed all of these transactions that I hadn’t made. So, I had over $1200 in fraudulent charges. I made a very expensive 20 minute call to my bank over there, but nothing could be done until myself or my mom filled out all of these forms. I was so sad and frustrated. I didn’t want to max out my minutes on my prepaid phone with 2 international calls, but I really wanted to talk to my mom. She of course calmed me down and said she would take care of it. Praise the lord for having her in my life. She is my sanity in so many ways. So that was a fun drive! Poor Patrick is all nervous and excited for his bungy jumping, then I’m over here having a melt down. Haha. Once we got there and checked him in, I found a great spot to video this whole experience. He jumped right over a gorge of crystal blue glacier water. It was beautiful and looked so exciting! So proud of him! I, myself have no desire or motivation to do it. I love jumping off of things, but I want to actually jump into the water… not sling back like a yo-yo.
After that, we went to Amisfield Winery. Patrick carries some of their wines at work, so he was very keen to come here. We TRIED to look nice, but I must say it’s very hard to LOOK nice when you haven’t showered all week, have zero makeup on, and greesy frizzy hair. Hahaha. I’m sure they LOVED us. We had a wine tasting anyway, then explored the vineyard. It was beautiful. We grabbed some takeaway dinner in town and walked around the waterfront. We stopped to watch a street show, and the guy happened to be from Utah. Again, crazy small world. We went back to our camp site and stayed up talking with Mat again. He’s just like us- very adventurous and excited to see the world. So, conversation was always exciting and nice with him.
The next morning (another VERY chilly night), we said our goodbyes to Mat. We knew we wouldn’t run into him again because he would be on his 3 day hike in Milford Sound. We both didn’t want to leave Queenstown. It has such an awesome vibe here, the beauty is unreal, and there’s TONS of activities and things to do. Patrick kept saying “Can we please move here”. Ah, we shall see. On our way out (yes at 9 a.m.) we stopped at FergBurger. This place is a madhouse all day every day. I guess most people don’t come here at 9 in the morning, because their was no wait 🙂 Best burger I’ve had in New Zealand!! 🙂