Monday in Queenstown and whitewater rafting

Queenstown Travel Blog

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Queenstown is on Lake Wakatipu
9 to 10:00 am Morning lecture on ecological heritage of NZ.  Rest of day on our own whitewater rafting.

The lecture at 9 am was on the geology of New Zealand.  We learned that the New Zealand land mass was formed along the conjunction of several undersea plates with volcanoes producing mountains in the North Island as one plate sunk under another.  The mountains in the South Island were formed from the land folding up on itself as two plates met.  The land was formed and separated from other land masses with no avenue for mammals to reach it.  Even humans didn’t arrive until 1,000 years ago (about the time of William the Conqueror) but they, the Maori, did bring pigs, rats and dogs with them.

Queenstown harbor looking towards Deer Park Heights
  I can see why geologists would be fascinated with New Zealand - it has it all; volcanoes and earthquakes with land forming and disappearing on a regular basis.  A bit unsettling to live in maybe, but it certainly produces a beautiful landscape.


After the lecture, we were on our own.  Most of the tour group went for a jet boat ride but my husband and I wanted to go white-water rafting.  We’ve canoed and kayaked forever but I wanted to get some photos and not get too wet on rough water so rafting seemed like a good idea.  There are many adventure opportunities in Queenstown but we picked Queenstown Rafting.  They have trips down either the Shotover or the Kawarau river,  The Shotover is a little more strenuous with a lot of rapids but the Kawarau trip goes under the bridge that is the world’s first bungee site and also goes through the gorge photographed in the first Lord of the Rings movie.  I couldn’t pass up that photo opportunity.


We were handed wet suits, a jacket, a life jacket and a helmet.  Dressed in all this we looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy and all clambered aboard a bus that dropped us off at the top of a hill.  It probably would have been easier just to roll down this hill into the water (I couldn’t have gotten hurt with all that protective gear) but I tried to be a good example and walked/stumbled down instead.  There were 4 of us and Deano, our guide, in our raft and 2 more rafts behind us.  The water was beautiful, running between cliffs on either side and with class 2 or 3 rapids.  Wonderful for photography.  And why aren’t there any photos for today or yesterday?  Sigh, I wrote them all to a CD which is now unreadable so no pictures of the gorge, Deano, Kip Hamilton or Thomas and his new bride.  I had carefully protected the camera so I could get photos of the gorge, the river, and people jumping off cliffs into the river.  I apologize to all the people that I promised photos to; I wish I had them for you.


However, even without the photos, the trip was worth it and I highly recommend you try one of the rafting trips.  There is also a gondola ride to the top of the mountain overlooking Queenstown which we didn’t get around to doing. (You can see the house at the top of the gondola at night and it shines like a star over the town.)  In fact there are so many things to do from hiking to riding to river surfing to flying that it’s hard to find time to shop.


Luckily, I did find shopping time after Leslie showed me a wonderful handmade walking stick with shell inlay on the horn handle and told me where she got it.  I’ve got one too now and even managed to get it home on the plane.  I also managed to fulfill my wish to visit the martini bar named “Minus Five” where everything including the furniture and the glasses are made of ice.  Touristy but fun to do once.  You’re given jackets to wear when you enter and the ice (lit by colored lights) sparkles everywhere. Furs are placed on the chairs so you can sit without freezing but the metal floor was a problem.  My husband wore tennis shoes so he was fine but I had on shoes with a soft composition sole that kept freezing to the floor.  I had to keep moving or I would have been frozen in place.  (Now there’s a visual)  Watch which shoes you wear to Minus 5 or you may have similar problems.

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Queenstown is on Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown is on Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown harbor looking towards …
Queenstown harbor looking towards…
photo by: genetravelling