On the tenth of each month over at Shimelle’s blog, she does random lists of 10 things, with lots of people joining in the fun and sharing their own links. This month I’m sharing 10 random thoughts from my visit to Queenstown, NZ.
- Firstly, I was extremely inspired by Blair Whitaker, who I found out about while on the skifields one day. He’s raising funds for the Aspiring Avalanche Dogs charity, by camping out in an ice cave he built from 11th August until 11th September. He was set up at The Remarkables, so we actually meet him one morning as well. I really like what he’s doing, so it was nice to get to contribute towards it. His aim is to raise $21,000 for the charity, through donations and auctioning off the supplies he used along with a night staying in the cave. You can find more details on the Snow Cave Project facebook page, which also has links to his auctions, and a place to donate.
- I’m amazed at how streamlined everything ski related was. On the first day, we went to Kiwi Discovery to pick up our bus voucher. To book a trip to the mountains, all we needed to do was to call the office, quote our ticket number, and say what day to book for, then get to the bus stop the next morning by 8.20am, where they marked one of our passes off on the tickets. For out clothing and equipment hire, we went to NZ Ski to pick up our snow card, that had our clothing and equipment hire, ski lessons and superpasses for the ski lifts pre-loaded. When we went up to the mountain, we checked out the clothing and skis by handing over our card to swipe, which we had set up with the sizes we needed, and it was a simple swipe to check it back in at the end of the day. For the lifts, we didn’t even need to get the card out of the jacket, since it could be scanned through the jacket to open the gates and let us up.
- We had 3 superpasses booked, but didn’t ski for enough days to use them. I really like that there is an option to redeem the superpasses for other activities or retail and food discounts. With them, we went jetboating, had an amazing meal at the top of the gondola, and I had a great massage. It was as simple as handing the card over to be swiped, and then paying the difference.
- I’m amazed at how hard it is to get internet access around Queenstown. Our hotel gave us half an hour a day per device, but a limit of only 20mb, which was generally used by the time we checked emails or uploaded a photo. There were a few restaurants that gave limited free internet with meal purchases, or charged a few dollars for really low usage, but not many. We did find one cafe, Patagonia Chocolates, that gave us unlimited free internet with purchases though, which was good to keep in touch everyone back home. They had great ice cream and milkshakes too, although the coffee was pretty bad!
- There is so much to do in Queenstown! We did a fair bit while we were there, but there was still a lot we didn’t fit in, like white water rafting, bungy jumping, sky diving, paragliding and the Lord of the Rings tour. I would definitely love to go back one spring to experience some more of the adventure sports that NZ is known for!
- Queenstown has a much hillier terrain than what I was expecting. I don’t know why I expected the town to be rather flat, but it definately isn’t! It’s surrounded by beautiful mountains, and walking from town to the hotel was up a reasonably steep hill. At least it sure felt that way since we were always carrying things like groceries back with us!
- Michael decided that since he was on holiday, he didn’t want to shave. I’m kind of relieved that he’s back to shaving again, since I think he looks way better without facial hair! It’s also nice to be able to kiss him again!
- I have a horrible immune system! I ended up sick twice while away, once with the flu, once with a cold. It seems my body doesn’t like the cold too much at all! Both times they seemed to go away easily enough for once, though. It probably helps that I started taking cold tablets straight away each time, though.
- From this trip, I’ve learnt that I really should start booking trips myself when we travel, rather than using a travel agent. I tried to book through an agent 3 separate times only to be told they weren’t offering any deals yet and that I had to come back. By the time they were able to take bookings, it worked out much more expensive, and there were less options available. We also ended up with split flights on the way home, waiting in Christchurch airport for 5 hours with nothing to do. I say I should book it all myself every trip, since I always managed to find good deals when I look around, and always end up booking through an agent anyway. Also, don’t plan on doing set things on set days. Instead, book the night before when possible. It’s nice to have the flexibility on the trip, and to be able to have much needed downtime sometimes.
- Queenstown is a very tourist oriented place. Even a lot of the employees there are visiting from all over the world to experience the ski season there. Out of the 5 ski lessons I did, only one of the instructors was actually from NZ. There seemed to be lot of people from Canada and France working as instructors, in stores, or handling the hire gear. Everyone was super friendly, too. It was clear that everyone loved what they were doing, and they were always so happy, relaxed and upbeat!