Queenstown City Tour [Rātū, Āperira 3rd 2012)

I remember that day as one of the BEST day during my time in New Zealand. We explored the amazing Queenstown from dusk till dawn. Yet i didn’t feel that it was enough to experience Queenstown in just 1 day.

We took the Arrowtown Scenic Bus Trip, and that day was only the three of us on the trip, plus our tour guide, Maralyn. Since it was only us, we were allowed to stay longer in one place or another, as long as within our trip hour, from 10 am to 2 pm.

Our tour guide Maralyn was a native New Zealand, and she’s been there for almost 20 years, so who’s the best to take us around the city if not its faithful resident?

Maralyn and the tour bus

She picked us up from our Black Sheep Backpacker around 9:45. Journey started with a little chat, introduction, yet i feel very warm welcomed already. The sun was cheerful and so did us. Maralyn started to tell us about Queenstown, how it was 10 years ago, compared to know, it’s progressive development towards upbeat tourism city. How many resorts and holiday house are built and how’s the landscape changes. Fantastic!

First we stopped at this quite high spot where we can see Queenstown from atop. How the inclining hills full of houses kind of separate the Wakatipu lake.

We continued to Lake Hayes, where autumn color cast its spell on the lake through its surrounding trees. It’s just amazing, and the lake kind of show it off by reflecting all the beauty on the surface. From there we went to historical bridge – not sure what the name is, it stretches high above this perfect blue river flowing along the scree. At that point, i just couldn’t imagine how many times i scream ‘oh my God’.

I didn’t actually know where the tour gonna bring us, so i just enjoy the trip and stories that maralyn told us. And there it was, we stopped in that place (for some reason i forget how’s the entrance look-alike) but after that door we sort of walk down the curvy path and there was this sound of music that makes you thumping, and the interior was unique, making you like in the cave or something. And there was a wide-screen where they play the video of people do some bungy jump. That was when i knew that we’re on the bungy spot, right then my heart just sunk.

I’ve been wanting to jump for a long time. Even when we planned this trip Amelia asked me whether i would jump, and i said yes, but when i knew it was quite pricey i cancelled the book. But being there, hypnotized by the atmosphere, saw the video, and even went to the spot where you can actually witness those bungy jumper made me so excited and nervous the same time. I was like jump or no jump, jump or no jump. I was a mixed of anxious, desire, confusion.

Maralyn, adrian and amelia were teasing me up and said “come on, you’re already here, don’t miss the opportunity” and i was thinking “gosh, i want it, what would it’s feel like, but no, my pocket gets thinner, but i want it, it must be scary”. And now my friend, i can proudly say that i had made the best decision ever that day, on that trip, and probably the best of my life so far. I just went back to the registration deck, yanked my wallet and signed up for a jump! Yayy!!!

The first thing they made you to do was to fill up this small card with the name of yours, and one simple question i never thought could appear “when did you decide to jump?” voila! That was easy : 2 minutes ago!haha

Then i got my body weighted, and they put my weight number on my palm up. Gave me a card to be shown to the jumping crew. It was thumping pumping situation i had back there, so excited yet so nervous about to jump (felt like i was going to give birth!)

So! I went to that cliff, that jumping stop, one of the crew offered me the jumping gadget, i wore them all and when i was done with it, the other guy led me to the area where you supposed to jump and he said this chilling and convincing words “okay, you decide to do this”, while firmly guiding me to ‘the spot’, right there, on the cliff, and i just couldn’t focus anymore. I was scared and nothing else i can say!

But i didn’t jump right away, i was trying to figure things out, but this guy rush me to just jump. I asked him for a minute and he asked back “ why would you need a minute? It’s a waste of time. You go here to jump, and let’s not waste a minute”. That just terrified me even more. I answered him “ i just need to take a deep breath” , i did it, but i still didn’t jump. Again he gave me this encouraging word and stuff. And there it goes, i slip off my legs and went down, both eyes closed.

That feeling was amazing, like thunderous winds outside and inside of your body burst to the top like your heart was lifted inside. And it was such a horrifying when the rope finally yanked you up – i opened my eyes, i was swung back a bit to the top, and i started to feel this greatest feeling i had ever felt. Those swinging was unbelievable. Then i closed my eyes back to enjoy, before someone yelling at me – 2 guys in the canoe – down to the river to catch me up down there.

A quick summary: 2 minutes 2 decide – 2 seconds swing – and that’s it !

that was only 43 m bungy site – and the jump felt only 2 seconds, can’t imagine what 8 seconds jump feels like from 134m !

The crew took only seconds to strip off the jumping gadget of my body, then i had to walk this ascending road to get back to the entrance. It was a mixed feeling i would never forget. Overwhelmed by the jumping sensation certainly isn’t to be quickly forgotten.

A view from Kawarau Bungy Site

Queenstown Kawarau Bungy Bridge

I was still trying to pull myself together from the gripping sensation of bungy before arriving at Gibbston Valley Winery. A perfect realization of what you imagine about winery. Both Kawarau Bungy Jump and Gibson valley Winery are a tale of success on that place.

Kawarau Bungy site is the first commercial bungy site in the world, established by AJ Hackett, a pioneer of this fascinating extreme sport that he established on 1988. He and his partner Henry Van Asch found this elastic rope and safe bungy codes in order for people around the world can enjoy this fantastic sport safely. Thanks to them for that wondrous feeling that i had.

As for the Gibson Valley winery, founded by Alan Brady was a classic story of a success. His ideas and faith on planting grapes in central Otago region were a mock among local people, who believes that the extreme weather; too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer may not be the best for a winery. But the plants survived and even better than expected. Since then it grew stronger and evolving to one of the famous wine making site in the world.

In the place where i from, drinking wine is something unconventional. Mineral water is the most common if not sweet tea and coffee. The wine tasting experience was probably the 2nd time i drink wine.

The winery tour was exciting and a great insight of what winery is and the philosophy beyond that. It gives me different angle of how to respect and to conceive every aspect of a wine making. The tour guide, 20-ish full of passion and joy young woman was the best guide and presenter i’ve seen in my life.

She joyfully grabbed us to the vineyards and introduced us what are things that mainly affect the growth of the grapes and eventually the wine tasted. The ‘Mother nature’ was the prime. Place where your grapes grow really determine the wine taste. The temperature, wind, the soil characteristics give different treatment to the planted graves.

Gibbston Valley Vineyard

Wine Making Equipments

Then she explains what kind of grapes, and the specialty of the Gibbston Valley – Pinot Noir. How to make it and eventually took us to the wine cave, where hundreds of barrel full of wine were stored. And guess what? Even the barrel material effect the taste of the wine. The cave where the wine stored is kept at constant temperature to maintain the wine quality.

Gibbston Valley Wine Cave

We tasted pinot noir from 2011, and some old one from 1990s, red and white wine. They’re all gave a different sensation in my mouth, from the one with mild burst sensation to the extreme burst. Bitter yes, and some tasted sweet as well. How to enjoy the wine is the most important one. When you taste wine, all of your sense should be drowned into it.

First the sense of touch, you touch and lift the glass. Second is the vision, you have to see the wine inside your glass, is it red, reddish-brown, white, etc. Third is your smell sense, you shake and turn around your goblet, then smell the wine deeply. Fourth is the hearing sense, make a toast with your partner or someone around you and hear the clinging sound of it, and last but not least, is your tasting sense. Drink the wine and feel it with all your heart and mindfulness.

That was one of the best experience in the Gibbston Valley. But i have to confess, 7 kinds of wine have i tasted, but still, i’m not a fan of wine – though i have a great respect for the entire philosophy and the process. I’d still prefer grape juice, or apple juice 🙂

Gibbston Valley Restaurant

After Gibbston Valley, we went to Arrowtown, where the autumn casts its spell and bring yellowish sensation to all the trees that paint the town artistically. The town kind of brought me to 1970s village. Just be there and grasp the atmosphere, it’s classy, chic, and romantic at the same time.

Arrowtown

We had dinner in The Stables, a country-style restaurant with good food and cozy place outdoor. There’s nothing can beat autumn winds with great lunch.

Vegetarian Pizza at The Stables Yummm~~~

We also went to this small river where people used to find gold, and we still could find some people with sieve tried to find gold. Skip the gold my friend, the river was beautiful, water clear, trees were elegant, and they collaborate really well in this picturesque site.

From Arrowtown around 1 pm, we directly back to Queenstown passed the wonderful Milbrook Resort. Tour ended around 2:30 and we directly went to Queenstown wharf for another Tour – TSS Earnslaw Lake Cruise to explore Lake Wakatipu.

TSS Earnslaw Ship

The ship was an old ship, retrofitted to a classic cruise ship, still uses charcoal though. And emits thick black smoke to the clean fresh air of Lake Wakatipu 🙂 . Remember our past cruises trip on Paihia (Dolphin Cruises) and Strait Cook Ferry Trip, this is the third boat trip, and we were kinda “mm.. oke…”. The Lake wonderful though, but we didn’t had the same excitement as the first two cruise.

TSS Earnslaw Cruise Checked!

We then headed to Skyline. It was 5:30 already, but the sky was still bright. Another beautiful scenery up there by Gondola. When we got there, the sun started to set slowly and left the top of the hill below with shiny gold color. It was simply breathtaking! We got pumped again and explore the ‘park’ in the sky.

I really enjoyed Queenstown very much and how vary and exciting entertainment if offers. The Skyline park out there were the area where you can ride downhill back by luge. Has also walking tracks and Mountain Biking trail, paragliding, etc. If you’re not into any adventurous ride, Just sit there and enjoy the view. If it wasn’t the time limit, i would’ve stayed there the whole day. The luge was closed already by 5. So we back downhill again by the gondola.

The Best

Best Experience EVER Bungy Jumping

Best Disappointment Not trying Paragliding

Best Countryside Experience Arrowtown

Best Tour Guide Maralyn – Arrowscenic Tour

Highlights and Tips
Bungy Jumping
Nothing is more sacred and serious than life – in the sense that we should be really careful at what we do, and think before we do. Plan our school, university, get a job, get married, or even having a child. Let’s agree on this: Those i mentioned earlier really need a careful thought.

But don’t do that to yourself when making decision to Jump. Bungy jump isn’t something to think about. It simply need to be done, and that’s it! I thought about it, i cancelled my first book. But then when i was actually there, i just didn’t want to think, and i jumped! Well – although it was only 2 seconds – and the thoughts came afterwards: “ What the H**k i was doing up there?”. Makes no matter. Best experience ever!

BIG BUT: if you have serious heart condition – think about it – couples of times!

and these are our 175 photos out of 700-ish we took on that day only 🙂

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and here’s our itinerary

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