Woke up, got breakfast, took the nice drive into Queenstown. This time, the scenery was better as the weather was considerably improved. I ended up driving most of the way and I managed to stay on the left the entire time. As with everything, Kiwis are backwards. Not just the driving, but the windshield wipers are on the left, turn signal on the right. I imagine the locals I passed knew I was not a local when my wipers went on as I sped around them at 100km/h (it sounds fast, it’s not).
From Queenstown, we took a brief bus ride to the rafting base camp. There, we were systematically converted into pro-rafters. Wet suit, booties, wet suit jacket, helmet and put on the bus. Wet suits are the absolute least flattering thing you can possibly wear I think. Avoid them at all costs.
A 45 minute ride to the start sounded easy enough. However, dressed in half that gear sitting two to a seat wasn’t so comfortable. The road leading to the river was also a bit scary. The warning signs saying rental cars were not insured for the road and numerous other warnings were definitely warranted. We were a thousand feet (or more) above the valley, on an exceptionally narrow road that had no guard. At times, the bus almost scraped the wall on one side and had the opposite tires less than six inches from a sheer drop off.
We did a ~ 2 hour / 14km white water rafting trip down the Shutover river outside Queenstown. Beautiful trip on jade green water with great scenery. The river at one point many years ago was the highest ratio of gold per kilometer. Now, there are some artifacts left; various mining equipment, shacks and remains of the old setup. The region also has wild goats, introduced during the mining boom as a source of food. The goats are now wild and not a food source (yay!). I ended up spotting two, including the first at the very top of a mountain and a great gray/white/black one that followed the shore with us for a brief period. Tania spotted a family of 6 on a shore behind me.
The river also had a 170 meter man-made tunnel from the mining era that was fun to go through. Tania and I were in the front of our raft so we got the best view and the most water. Took both opportunities to take a swim and float with the boat. Our raft captain was Gabby, a cute Aussie girl that has rafted and traveled a lot of the world. She was very upbeat and definitely added to the fun.
During the rafting, I almost fell in early on. I didn’t quite have my feet braced in the boat and fell backwards. I can honestly say that all the ab work during personal training payed off, as I basically did a ‘V up’ to hold on long enough to grab a rope on the raft and allow someone else to pull me farther up. Tamba will be so proud.
Walked around Queenstown and checked out many shops, found a few neat things. Picked up pictures from our rafting trip (will post later) and got dinner at Pub on Wharf. Oddly enough, I have never had beef wellington until tonight, even though seeing them made for years on various cooking shows and always wanting to. It was really good.