My day of departure for Queenstown began at an eager time of 4.30am, I was alert like a bunny in a headlight. This is what happens when you have an abundance of creative energy, you need less sleep, you wake early, and you feel super motivated. I aim to harness it and enjoy it while it lasts.
I tapped around on the net for awhile then by 6am I went for a final quick cardio pump along the boardwalks of Wellington. I ran into the bitterly cold winds, pushing with numb limbs into the dark morning sky. I could hear the wind rattling through the masts of the leisure boats moored in the bay, whistling my sweet farewell. I had loved Wellington, it was such a fun, lively, funky and upbeat little metropolis. I had experienced such a variety of activities including art galleries, museums, ferry trips, scenic bus rides, shopping trips, good food, and seen two inspiring movies at the local alternative cinema. I know that I will return in the future.
Flying into Queenstown was a nerve wracking experience. Being a frequent traveller I am not normally scared when flying; however flying in a small propeller jet plane, with wings almost licking the snowy covered mountains; thick fog and mist settled ominously around the mountains, making me feel petrified. We could not see anything but white out the windows, I was hoping the pilots had a better view! At the last minute; passengers mood thick with trepidation, the pilot pulled the plane to a sharp incline making a dramatic abort exit out of a precarious and dangerous blind landing. I almost kissed the ground in Invercargill, and felt praise for the skill of the pilot. He sure did earn his money that day.
A bus was waiting to take us the remainder of the journey to Queenstown by road, fine by me, I was able to see more scenery, avoid scary landing, and chat to a friendly intelligent local doctor, bonus!
Monèt was an emergency doctor practising at the local hospital, South African born he had travelled extensively, had boy and girl twins, and seemed to me to have a blessed life enjoying the mountains and an outdoors lifestyle. He was a pleasure to talk to and learn from in two hours.
Monèt told me about some of the cases he experienced at the emergency department; as I have a morbid fascination for death, accidents and injuries. Eyeball protrusions and bruising from bungee jumping, were some of the main conditions, and the winter ski season brought in many broken bones and wounded egos. Sick children and tourists, and the frequent crashed motorist, made up the other portion of casualties to keep medical staff busy.
My first full day in Queenstown, started with a beautiful scenic walk along the lake and into the mountains. This place is so amazing and breathtaking, and reminds me of a mini Canada.
I went on the million dollar cruise around the harbour mid morning, which gave me many photo opportunities. I chatted away to other travellers and spent most of my time on the top deck, although bitterly cold and occasionally wet, I had the best views in the boat. I learnt the main bay is 350m deep, and full of fish and ducks. Fishing is banned near the harbour line, encouraging massive trout to dart around the jetty, keen to catch a nibble of food. Ducks were also plentiful, one species black with white beak, immigrating from Australia during one particularly blustery storm years ago. The houses along the shore line were impressive, expensive and showed interesting architecture.
I then went up the gondola for the highest view over the main bay. There you will find a cute cafe, jelly bean store, and a luge riding course.
My next adventure was a total highlight. I went paragliding! Since watching the French film “The Untouchables”, in particular the scene where the two main characters paraglide in the French alps, I have always been inspired to try this adventurous and thrilling activity.
I was nervous at first, more so the anticipation was intense. I am normally a risk avoider, so going paragliding was completely out of character for me. I was hooked into a very experienced tandem guide, Omar, who was French. His experience and competence soothed my nerves and increased my confidence in throwing myself boldly off the edge of a cliff. The take off was smooth, and surprisingly not as scary as I thought. As the wind picked up in our life preserving sail, I was blown into a new world of awesome. Sitting in my harness we drifted smoothly at the tops of the mountains, seeing the snow and green valleys from this birds eye perspective was thrilling and exciting. We glided for around 12 minutes, soaring high through the sky, descending gradually into a field, where we landed lightly and smoothly. I was impressed, I felt wonderful and exhilarated, I will be paragliding again!
The next day was another early start, and I was on my way to Doubtful sound. Without doubt, this is one of the most enjoyable and epic fjords you could see in the world. Green and lush with moss and ferns, the snow capped peaks made it look even more impressive.
We cruised from one harbour to another, both as beautiful. I took a million photos, but also tried to take the time to stop and look and absorb with my own eyes. At one point the skipper turned the engine off in a very peaceful, calm and tranquil part of the journey. With birds twittering, and ducks gliding, the entire boat stopped, starred and admired the sheer significance of being in this beautiful remote and scenic place. How lucky we were to have this experience! I took the time to contemplate the beauty before my eyes, I was so grateful to be there, in that very moment. I breathed in the natural energy and power, as it worked its magic to soothe and heal my soul. This was the view we had in the moment of silence, truly breathtaking.
Queenstown is a place of magical beauty. Mountains, lakes and forest, this place is a mecca for natural attractions. Energetically it feels strong, for the avid adventurer or nature lover, I highly recommend a trip to this scenic and wonderful place.
On my last morning I once again rose before dawn and set off to 'photo jog'. I carry my camera with me and jog along then snap away when the sun rises. It's great fun! I jogged out around the bay heading in the opposite direction from my last scenic run. The light was perfect and the sun rise performed nicely for me turning the sky pink, red and purple. I felt emotional this morning, thoughts of my parents lingered persistently, I missed them so much, and I just felt like a big hug. I felt overtired and drained from being on the road for three weeks and simply needed my own space. I was looking forward to going home. So now that I have set the mood, you can understand my next action. As I jogged out that morning I came across many places of beauty, and I think it was my best morning for photography. Towards the end of my run, I came across a most amazing tree. It instantly drew me in, and I felt compelled to give her a big hug. I stared to cry, releasing my emotions, and feeling in awe of this gentle giant, grounded, stable, strong, persisting through the passage of time only continuing to grow in beauty and strength.
If you look closely, to me it looks like there is a naked woman hugging the tree. Can you see the bare buttocks and upper torso? I captured this image to express how I felt drawn into connecting to this tree, showing the limbs reaching towards you, inviting you in to be temporarily nurtured by this giant arbor mother. Any tree that makes me cry is pretty special. I hope you like it too.
Part 7 completes my blog posts for New Zealand. I return to my home town of Perth for only 6 weeks or so then begin another epic adventure to Canada, Alaska, UK and Europe. I hope you can continue to join me and enjoy my travel experience. Where will you go on your next adventure?
Thanks for being a part of my journey. Feel free to repost and share with your friends if you like what you read.
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary