|Looking out at the lake in Queenstown.
January 12, 2006
Today was, without a doubt, my favorite day in New Zealand. It can all be summed up in one word.
What a difference a few rays of light can have on my opinion of an entire country. We finally saw a lake that made our mouths drop.
There was one thing missing, however. I should actually say ‘person’ as we had to drop Kat off at the airport this morning. Jim and I
are both torn as to whether we should even tell Kat about what became of the country only a few hours later. I know that I’m not
going to volunteer this information to her.
It wasn’t just the lake that we saw that was stunning – the landscapes turned into replicas of Tuscany and Provence (during the
times that lavender was present). I never knew this existed in New Zealand.
Before arriving in Queenstown, we drove past a number of vineyards. I already knew of another activity I would be taking part in
while I was in this neck of the woods.
But the time finally came when we hit our destination – Queenstown.
We get to call this town ‘home’ for the next five nights. Being ‘city people’, we were both relieved to finally be in a place where there
were actually people and things to do. It is beautiful here – it almost reminds me of a ski resort town but on a slightly larger scale.
There are outdoor activities galore offered here. I have a couple of ideas of things I will splurge on. I just need to cross my fingers that
the weather cooperates…
January 13, 2007
Jet boating was what was on the agenda for the day. Of course we opted for the high-adrenalin vs. the scenic option. Was there really
We got to our boat in the Shotover River just as the cloud cover began to take over the sky. One thing was for sure – it didn’t matter
what the weather was like to have a good time with this. Coming within inches of boulders, doing 360’s, bouncing up and down on our
seats – it was impossible to not have a good time. I was actually expecting it to give me more of an adrenalin rush that it did.
Nevertheless, it was really fun.
The rest of the day was used to wander around the sun-filled streets in the morning and then hovering from the rain later in the
We are staying in a great apartment-style room and I actually enjoyed the rain as it gave me a chance to sit on the couch, read and
have views of Queenstown. It felt like a sense of ‘home’. Ahhh…
I gained a boyfriend tonight. He worked quickly as he cozied up to me when I was walking down the street. He held my hand and led
me to the table outside at the bar where his friends were. He offered a drink and I took him up on it. Big mistake. For the next fifteen
minutes I had to attempt to converse with about ten wasted guys in addition to my ‘boyfriend’ (as he declared me his girlfriend when
he brought me to the table). He asked for a kiss in exchange for the glass of pinot he bought for me. I gave him a peck. His response
was “No tongue? I just got you a glass of pinot noir.” Classy English bloke, huh? I had to flee the scene about fifteen minutes later
when I realized that it was next to impossible to talk to these drunk guys about anything in my sober state. Oh yeah. And the reason
for departing probably also had a little something to do with that I was done with my glass of wine…
I told the guy (whose name I had still never learned) that it was time for us to break up.
He took it in stride…though he did say “But I bought you a glass of Pinot Noir…”
January 14, 2007
Today was a crappy-weather kind of day. Not too much to report on. We didn’t do any activities though Jim did sign up to do a white-
water rafting trip tomorrow and I signed up to go hang-gliding. I’m just crossing my fingers that the weather will be nice as it is
predicted to be.
We ran into Ronen, a friend that I made on my Christmas ‘Great Ocean Road’ trip in Australia. He ended up coming to drinks with us
and then to dinner. I was going to pass on going to Milford Sound but Ronen actually sold me on going. As he says, “I would rather
regret doing something than regret not doing something.” And it definitely makes perfect sense. Because of this, I am now going to be
heading hours out of my way to see what some people say is the most beautiful place they have ever seen. I might agree. I might
disagree. But at least I will not be able to say “I really should have gone…”
January 15, 2007
Yay! The weather is beautiful right now! This means I get to go hang-gliding today. I’m so excited about this. This was the one thing I
really wanted to do while I was in New Zealand. And I get to do it today. I’m not even worried that it won’t live up to my
expectations…because I have a good feeling it will.
I started the day off with a stroll around the lake. Beautiful views of the water, the city, the trees and the mountains. Not a bad way
to start the day, huh?
But the main attraction for the day would come at 1:30pm when the van would pick me up to take me to the top of a mountain.
This would be where the men would lay out a big piece of nylon and start assembling metal rods into it. This apparatus was what was
going to keep me and the professional in mid-air. Was I concerned? Not in the slightest.
Julian, the guy whose hands my life was in, prepped me on our running technique for the take-off. Not too much to remember – just
try to run in sync with each other. Aside from being told where to put my hands, I really wasn’t told much else.
After a couple minutes, the wind was going in a direction that was pleasing to Julian. It was time to run. I don’t know if I have nerves
of steel but I am getting a bit concerned about myself seeing that I was not the least bit nervous before running off of the cliff.
I am used to being in the air and feeling turbulence. However, I am more experienced with this sensation while being in an airplane
rather than being in the air with nothing but nylon and metal rods holding me up. We were high up in the air. We were even level with
an airplane at one point. There were a few times where I got a bit nervous as I was high enough in the air that I was looking down
onto mountains while wind currents were taking us in different directions. All I could do was laugh and say ‘Wheeeeeeeeee’. Julian
just stayed focuses and warned me about worse turbulence that was most likely going to take place on our descent for the landing.
The entire ride was a rush. Floating in the sky and then having a gust of wind take you higher into the air – it is impossible to relay
the feeling. All I know is that I would do this again in a split second.
I met up with Jim later in the day. We dedicated the remainder of the day and night to drinking. We started at a place with Happy
Hour and then started bouncing around different bars around town.
Yesterday Jim and I made a bet. He told me there was no way I could go one day without asking a waiter/waitress a question (e.g.
‘What wine would you recommend?’, ‘What is on the antipasto platter?’, ‘Which of these two things would you recommend?’, etc.).
Last night Jim claimed that he had not experienced one meal where I didn’t ask some question. This was an exaggeration (albeit a
very slight exaggeration) as there were cafes in teeny-weeny towns where I just ordered an item off the menu – no questions asked.
But Jim was claiming I was being like Sally in When Harry Met Sally. He challenged me to a $3 bet at dinner last night. I told him he
I was aware of this bet before meeting up with him and I knew I was going to win.
Within fifteen minutes of meeting up with him, I had lost. He got me on a technicality. I asked the waitress what the soup of the day
was. Jim wasted no time letting me know that I owed him $3. I told him it wasn’t fair – after all, how was I supposed to know what
the soup was? He said it was fair and that I owed him. He then offered up a ‘double or nothing’ deal. I took it. I knew I could do it. I
was now aware of the stringent rules. I ended up pushing the boundaries but staying within the rules when I would ask a waitress to
get me a glass of ‘the pinot noir that she liked the best’.
Jim ended the night feeling like a victor since he had won the first time around. I ended the night feeling like a victor since I ended up
winning the second time around and didn’t owe him anything.
January 16, 2007
I finally feel like myself again. For the first seven hours of the day today I was headachy and hungover and I forgot to take aspirin
before heading out. I was hoping my head would automatically heal itself. I really, truly have no idea how certain people/religions
swear off miracle workers such as Advil, Tylenol and Aleve. That must make for some cranky individuals.
Even with a hangover, I was determined to walk up the large hill that sits on the edge of the center of Queenstown instead of taking
the gondola. I am admittedly very out of shape these days. For that reason, I felt quite a sense of accomplishment that it took me 36
minutes to get to the top (yes, I timed it) when the sign said it would take 45 minutes. Jim clocked in at 42 minutes. But he’s an old
man (he is two years older than me) so I wasn’t viewing this as some big accomplishment. As he was regaining his breath once he got
to the top of the hill, he let out a fart. I thanked him for that (sarcastically, of course). He apologized saying that he didn’t even know
that was going to happen. All I could say was “Damn, you are an old man.”
After going for a luge ride, I rode the gondola back down to town while Jim opted for walking down. His reasoning had nothing to do
with wanting more physical activity; instead it had to do with him fearing the gondola ride. I know it’s mean…but stuff like this gives
me the ammunition to laugh at him. He seems to be secure enough in his masculinity to take it. Props to him for that.
I am now back at the apartment watching the Golden Globes while resting and doing some laundry. The Advil has erased any signs of
the hangover I was experiencing just a couple hours ago. Ahhh… Life is really good when you don’t have a headache. Very insightful, I
Time to go check my laundry and head back into town…
January 17, 2007
The time came this morning to take Jim to the airport to send him back to America.
I am actually a bit shocked that we got along so well the past five days. He is admittedly a different person when it is just him and one
other person versus him and two other people. He sees two other people as ‘an audience’ where he feels the need to perform. This
was fun the first couple days – getting that dose of Jim humor that I hadn’t had for a while. But ‘Jim humor’ has changed a bit since
Jim moved from San Francisco to New York. One day in particular it seemed like he was more intent on being crass than being funny.
I can’t even count the number of times that the f-word was dropped during a dinner at an Italian restaurant. It would have been fine
if it was just us…but there was an older couple sitting just inches away from us and I knew that they could hear what he was saying.
How could they not as he was putting particular emphasis on the word each time it came out of his mouth? Was I going to have to
endure this on my own? Would I be able to???
Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about how five days alone with him was going to be once Kat left.
And I have to say that it really could not have been better. Finally, I was no longer ‘an audience’ for Jim and I actually got to talk to
him like a friend and find out about the real stuff going on in his life. Not to say that the other stuff he was talking about before wasn’t
‘real’…but now I got to learn a bit more about his career and life in New York. It felt like we were a combination of friends,
roommates and traveling buddies. We each had our space but we also each had somebody to meet up with for drinks or meals. There
was no need for me to be concerned about my five days with him.
I enjoyed hanging out with this Jim and was sad to see him go. However, before seeing him off we decided to hit one of the wineries in
the Central Otago region (where Queenstown is) where I would taste a few wines and absolutely fall in love with the pinot noir in this
region of the world. I knew I had to try more when I was on my way out of Queenstown.
January 19, 2007
I stopped off in Queenstown for one last night yesterday en route from Milford Sound. This made perfect sense to stop here since it
was more or less the half-way point between Milford Sound and Fox Glacier. But that wasn’t the only reason I chose Queenstown for
my stop-off point…
Lorenz, the guy I met on my Whitsunday Islands trip in Australia, got into Queenstown the day I left. We would finally be crossing
paths with each other. I found it easiest to be a pessimist about our plan to meet up since we had tried another time and it didn’t
come to fruition. I found it in my best interest to go the ‘it probably won’t happen’ route. I was pretty sure this time around it would
happen but I was better off still being questionable.
And at 6:05pm when I went to the corner of Shotover Street, there he was. Looking just as cute as I remembered except this time he
was donning a goatee. Not my favorite look on a guy…but on him I would take it.
It was great catching up with him. We’ve really only exchanged a couple emails of what we have been up to since we last saw each
other. The rest of the emails have been geared towards trying to figure out when/where to meet up. Emailing is far from cheap in
New Zealand – there is no time to write much more than necessary information - whether it’s to family, friends or former flings.
Once again, we had a really great time. The hard thing this time around was that when we said good-bye this afternoon we couldn’t
say ‘See you later’ like we could last time we parted ways (since we had a good idea we would be meeting up at some point in New
Zealand). This time it was ‘Good-bye’.
Definitely some great memories with a great guy…
Before officially bidding adieu to this part of New Zealand, I had it in my mind that I wanted to buy a nice bottle of pinot noir. A guy at
a wine shop highly recommended a winery called Mt. Difficulty in Bannockburn. Since this was more or less on my way to Wanaka, I
decided it was worth the detour.
At many other places, the scenery alone would be reason to come to this winery. So would the restaurant that overlooks the
landscape consisting of desert, vineyards, cypress trees, a lake, etc.
But even those things paled in comparison when it came to their pinot noir. The only way to describe it is fruity liquid velvet. I
splurged on a bottle and am just praying that it gets home in one piece.
View of Queenstown from up above.
Soaring over the skies while hang-gliding.