Heading out for the paraglide... can you tell that I'm freaking out?
In the morning no one seemed to want to move very fast. Our accommodation for the night fell through and I was really starting to question this relaxed “no worries” Kiwi attitude. I really wanted to get down to Queenstown and see the sites but we didn’t leave for the eight hour drive till around 1PM. We arrived in Queenstown around 8:30. I decided to go for a run to shake out my legs. What a great decision that was! It was the perfect time of night in town. Everything just popped. Queenstown is situated on this beautiful lake with mountains in the background. It is much like Newport in the sense of being a smaller water side town but it is much more condensed (hence you don’t have to walk forever to see it all).
In the winter it is a huge ski town, where people go to ski the Remarkables. After my run I sat on the grass and just took it all in. I had been contemplating going paragliding in Queenstown and I decided this was my sign. The location was perfect and if I was going to fly over anything I wanted it to be this! That night we went out to this great gourmet pizza bar where I had a thai pizza (no cheese) which was so good. We went out for a few drinks in town but ended up heading home around twelve since it was a Wednesday and not too much was happening.
And we're off... feeling a bit more relaxed now.
In the morning I decided to get up early to see some more of town on my own but it turned out to be a rainy grey morning.
I was getting disappointed because I had gotten myself psyched up to do a paraglide and it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. I waited for the others to get up and we went into town to figure out our plans and to have a coffee. The sun was beginning to come out a bit so I decided I would go to the car and put in my contacts in case I decided to do the paraglide. The others decided to go visit a friend in a shop nearby. As I was trying to shove my bag back into the trunk (or boot as they say here) the latch broke and it slammed down on my head. Throwing the trunk off my head and unhappy about the pain I looked up to see if anyone had witnessed it. Immediately upon looking up I see two girls walking my way… it was my friends Sarah and Caroline who I had met on East As. I couldn’t believe that we had run into each other. Especially since in that moment I really needed a friend to ask, “Are you okay?” and then to laugh at how dumb that must have looked.
like a bird
Since we were heading out of town for the night we agreed to meet up on Friday night. When everyone came back we headed up the gondola to go on the luge and to decide whether I actually wanted to paraglide. The luge is this cement track where you can race these little cars down a downhill track. I did it twice and it was really fun (though starts to give you a headache after a while. Then it was time to go paragliding! I couldn’t believe that they didn’t even ask me to sign anything or really worry about any liability. Suing is practically impossible in New Zealand – hence their millions of sort of safe adventure activities. My pilot Clark and I hiked up to the highest point on the mountain where he hooked us up to the parachute and said I needed to power walk and then run (off a mountain). I asked him how long do you run for and he said he couldn’t tell me that.
doing a spin...
I was starting to feel a little nervous at this point (running off a cliff and all) but I had come this far and I wanted to keep it up. We ran off the cliff and were lifted right in to the air. At first I was freaking out that the air would just stop and we would fall but I quickly realized that there is a science to it and Clark seemed capable. We caught a hot air pocket and were lifted 1,500 feet higher than our start point. I could see the peeks of other mountains that I had not been able to see before emerge in the distance. Then we flew out over the lake and the luge where I felt like a bird looking around at all the smaller people bellow. On the way down we did some crazy spins and loops. About 15 min later we landed safely on ground. I have officially had my New Zealand crazy adventure experience. As they say, when in New Zealand, throw yourself off a cliff. (or at least that’s what I have decided they should say)
A stop on the way to Queenstown... this is our roadtrip group.