Sunday, August 17, 2014

Queenstown Holiday Experience

As a resident of New Zealand's South Island, I have ready access to "the world's ultimate adventure capital." It is just a couple of hours drive away from where I live.. It may take some time to travel by road, but the road travel is worth it especially when you get to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and sceneries, add that to the good conversation with friends, and time will just pass by in a flick.

Although I have been to Queenstown for a number of times already, it is only recently that I truly appreciated the 'adventure' in this adventure capital. My CAP mates and I had a sort-of reunion in our first year in New Zealand - and Queenstown was the preferred destination. In time with our first anniversary as residents of this country, the Queenstown winter season welcomed us with majestic views of the snow-covered mountains and very cool weather. Coming from a tropical country, the Philippines, the snow and the cool environment somehow gave us good chills as we felt that we were indeed in a four seasons country. With temperature range from less than 0 degree to around 2 to 3 degrees during our stay, we thought that it was the perfect time to put on layers of clothing... And for me to try those GQ inspired winter outfits. Haha.

It was a Sunday during Day 1 of our Queenstown Holiday. I could not afford to miss the fun and catch-up activities with my friends so instead of waiting for a regular Monday bus from my place to Queenstown [I still don't have a car, poor me], I opted to fly to Christchurch to meet my friend there. And it didn't disappoint me. The 45-minute catch-up with my friend from Christchurch Airport to Queenstown Airport was all worthwhile.


Queenstown Airport is 8 kilometers away from Queenstown Central Business District (CBD). You can get loads of information from the airport itself of the activities that are in store for your Queenstown holiday. There are heaps of packages to choose from and they offer discounted prices. For my readers, I would highly recommend you to go visit the TripAdvisor website to get first hand inputs of the must-do activities in Queenstown and the surrounding areas. Plus you'll get honest opinions from people from all over the world about facilities, establishments, tours, and activities. At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences AND budget. Do this online activity months ahead of your travel date so you could anticipate the seasonal activities. Back to Queenstown Airport... Vehicle rental companies have their own stalls around the airport so you can choose depending on your period of stay and budget. For the backpackers and thrift travellers, there are bus and taxi bays for transportation from Frankton to the CBD. Like almost anywhere in the world, the drivers are your local, friendly tourist guides who could provide you details of what to do and where to go to... Take advantage of their input as most of the time the information from these drivers are really valuable.

After dropping our luggage in the hotel, we did not waste time and immediately roamed around the city. We carefully planned the days and our activities each day based on the MetService weather forecast. Of course we can't do any outdoor activities during rainy days so we tried to fit in activities according to the forecast. We explored the CBD on our first day to acclimatize, we had the Milford Sound tour on our second day, third day was the most exciting for me, the skydiving day, and the fourth and last day was for skiing.

We had to join the bandwagon and check out Fergburger and Patagonia.Some say both are overrated but I was quite satisfied with the stuff from both specialty stores. If you want humongous burgers then Fergburger will sort your hunger.

 

Want chocolates, coffee, and churros to warm your senses on a cold time of the day? Drop by Patagonia Chocolates! They also have ice cream!

 

We of course had the cable car (Gondola) to get to the mountain top and have a good view of the town. Up in the mountain are a number of cool features including the Skyline Luge and the Skyline Restaurant.

 

The fee of $82 dollars for the combo for Skyline Gondola and Skyline Restaurant (buffet) is worth the bucks as I felt so full of ganstronomic treats from their seafood and sushi bar, their steak bar, and the grill section. They offer a full course of meal from the starter up to the dessert. You just have to work on your plan on how to try everything that appeals to your appetite! Oh I just love buffets!

 
 
 
 
 

After the buffet, you could stroll around the CBD for a night view of the town.

 

We were curious about the Ice Bar so we spent around $20 to $30 for the entrance and mocktails/cocktails. In the bar are ice sculptures, and of course, the other equally curious guys and gals trying out the experience of being in Antarctica. Party all along with your mates and meet people with different nationalities!

 
 
 

Second day was Milford Sound day. Milford Sound is miles away from Queenstown and it takes 5-6 hours by bus to get to the sound from Queenstown CBD and another 5-6 hours to get back to the adventure capital. 


Although this is not part of Queenstown anymore, Milford Sound is a popular destination for tourists longing for nature at its finest. The area is government protected so you won't really see a lot of establishments along the road, just nature nature nature. There are a few ferry carriers catering to the tourists and you just have to choose according to your preferences. The whole tour includes several stops to notable spots like the Mirror Lake, the tunnel, and the mountain spring where you could fill your bottle with fresh spring water... When you get to the point where you will ride the ferry to tour the sound, you just have to sit back, relax, and enjoy nature. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The commentaries from the tourist guides were very rich and helpful, you'll just say 'wow' with the facts and figures. It takes almost 2 hours for the Milford Sound ferry trip alone and while on board, you can have your food or you could just purchase from the available treats from the stalls. The buses leave at 8 in the morning, with arrival time of 1:30pm at Milford Sound, departure at Milford Sound at around 3:45pm then back to Queenstown CBD at 8 in the evening. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We ended the second day with a good meal in one of the restaurants in the CBD.

 
 
 
 

Third day was skydiving day! We booked our tickets at NZone Skydive and we were told that the skydive will depend on the weather and subject to cancellation anytime. They will ask for your credit card details but won't charge you until the time they confirm that the skydive will push through. We all wanted our skydive experience documented so we chose the combo of $229 for the video/photo coverage. The skydive alone will cost about $339 or more depending on the altitude. On the day itself, I got pretty much worried as MetService estimated the day to be a cloudy/sunny day with light winds. Our supposed 9am schedule was cancelled due to wind conditions so we were asked to come back by 11am. We just killed time by visiting the Botanic Gardens and played like kids in their playground. If we had ample time we could have visited the Queenstown Gardens and the Queenstown Ice Arena for ice skating!

When we came back to NZone Skydive, we were told that the skydive will be a GO! After signing the waiver (that we could be killed - urgh), we used a van to get us to the drop area which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from the CBD. The Remarkables will say hi to you as that will be the backdrop of the drop zone.

 
 
 
 

There will be a safety briefing and then off you go! As it is a tandem skydive, you don't have to worry about the technicalities as the dive masters are professionals. Just remember the banana position and enjoy the spectacular view... 

 
 
 
  
The skydive experience must be the most daring, most incredible thing that I have done in my life! The whole skydive experience, from the safety briefing, the breathtaking scenery after the 200km/hr free fall from 12,000 feet above, up to the time my skydive master Greg and I landed on the ground, was exceptional... That was indeed the highlight of my Queenstown 2014 holiday!



After the adrenaline rush, we were dog tired and nauseated for almost an hour. Haha. We just had Japanese for lunch takeaway and we had the meal in the hotel. With muscles and extremities like jellies, we slept for about 2 hours and up again after recharging, just in time for dinner. Of course, we consulted TripAdvisor again and we landed on Flame Bar and Grill (reservations necessary as they are always full of diners).

 

After the sumptuous meal, we tried the spooky, scary Fear Factory. Good thing nobody chickened out! Haha.

Winter wouldn't be complete if we didn't get to touch snow and play around, erm, like kids again, and build a snowman. Haha. The fourth and last day was spent solely for this activity. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative that day and it was all cloudy with snow the whole day at Coronet Peak. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the day learning the basics of skiing and playing with crushed ice snow. 


 
 
 
 

We still had the whole evening to spend so we just roamed around, had Indian for dinner, and tried Vortex, the 12-D experience. Vortex reminded me of Rialto from Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna, Philippines.

Day five was the check out day. We had to go back to reality and earn for a living. Some of us had to ride the airplane and me, of course, just a bus ride. Although we were quite sad because that marked the end of our Queenstown holiday, the memories of the past few days were enough to mask the sadness with delight and happiness. You can never go wrong with a holiday spent with good people, good company.


Just a side trip... If you happen to be available during the autumn season, the nearby town which is just a few kilometers away from Queenstown is must see. Arrowtown is best known for their Autumn Festival. Here are a few photos of the views from the town.

 
 
 
 

This holiday is one of the most memorable holidays that I had in my life, I guess the experience was a lot better because my mates had no qualms about spending, the reason the whole Queenstown experience was richer and more memorable. Although I have been to Queenstown for the nth time, it was only that week that I truly enjoyed the adventure paradise.



Sa akin lang po, it is okay to spend your hard earned money to pamper yourself with treats. Be there to enjoy, you could always earn the money later on!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...