All bundled up for our jetboat trip down the Shotover River.
This morning we encountered our first below freezing temps. In fact, before we departed Twizel, Miller assiduously scraped off a rather significant layer of ice that had grown on our carâ€™s windshields and windows. Soon, though, we were en route to Queenstown through some beautiful valleys and mountains ranges.
Along the drive, we were treated to vista after vista of magnificence. We crossed the Roaring Meg River and stopped to breathe in the cool air above its churning foamy waters. We stopped for breakfast in the little crossroads town of Cromwell, famous for orchard after orchard of fruit trees and vineyard after vineyard of New Zealandâ€™s finest grapesâ€¦ or so they claim.
Sheldon mugs for the camera.
And then we pulled into a little gravel parking lot that stopped short of a wooden bridge constructed in 1880. Halfway on this bridge sat a small box that extended over the Kawarau River. For some inexplicable reason, after creeping out to that boxâ€™s edge, people tied a rubbery rope to their ankle and then dove off a perfectly good bridge, headlong toward the river.
Yes, we were at the home of bungee jumping. A.J. Hackett started the extreme sport on that spot on that bridge in 1988. We were at the Vatican of Bungee Jumping. None of us participated in the revelry, though. Of course, none of us wanted to pay the US$100 it took to do it, either.
We headed into Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand and arguably the extreme sports capital of the world.
An aerial shot of a jetboat doing its thing on the Shotover. We stood on top of a bridge after our adventure and took this picture.
Our extreme adventure was to be a ride down the Shotover River
in a jet boat.
In a word, the jet boats are fast.
Reaching speeds of 80 km/hr (almost 50 mi/hr), the joker consumes two liters of gasoline per minute when at full throttle.
The boat has two 260 horsepower Buick engines that in turn power two jet engines.
The monster is loud and not the efficient piece of machinery on the market, but goodness it was fun.
We zoomed down the Shotover River
at an alarming but terrifically fun pace.
The canyon walls whir by, each just a mere armâ€™s length away.
The water sprays hither and thither.
And we all screamed as we raced by at a blistering rate.
The Shotover River.
Then, after a brief warning, the boatâ€™s captain whips the boat into a ferocious 360-degree spin, and everyone sloshed about.
Whew, what an adrenaline rush!
We arrived back at the pier, only slightly wet but with hearts a-pounding and wishing we could take another ride on the boat.
To calm down, we enjoyed a nice gondola ride up to the top of the summit in whose shadow Queenstown sits. From the top of the precipice, we had an unobstructed view of the Remarkables, the range of mountains that surround Queenstown Bay. We also saw people once again jumping from a perfectly solid object, in this case, the mountain. For some reason, folks felt compelled to strap a parachute to their back and dive right off the mountainâ€™s edge. Go figure.
Soon enough we came down the moment for an early dinner and an early rest for a tomorrowâ€™s long day of driving straight into the Southern Alps and along the western coast of New Zealand to the two of the worldâ€™s most amazing and picturesque glaciers, the Fox and Franz Josef.