Today we had a free day in Queenstown, most of the group did activities like bungee jumping, sky driving, jet boat, scenic helicopter rides as well as other adrenaline activities. I opted for the more relaxing approach with a bike ride around the gardens, stuffing my face with crepes and churros and doing a bit of shopping. All activities aren't including in our top deck and have to be purchased at an extra cost. Most of the activities range from $140 - 500. All are organised through our top leader so there is no hassle for us.
To hire a bike i'd say is the best way to see Queenstown. It's not very big but is a lot more enjoyable and allows you to see more places as you can travel further on a bike. There is all year around bike hire from $23.80 - over $55 depending on how long you want to hire the bike for. They come with a helmet and protective gear for free. We enjoyed our 1.5 hour ride around the gardens and up the surrounds residential paths along the lake. The lake itself stretches for miles. it will take 45 minutes to ride to Frankton which is a town along the lake.
Eating around Queenstown can prove to be a little bit expensive. There are a few cheap places to eat but if you're eating out all the time you can rack up a fairly expensive bill. We decided to treat ourselves (not our bank accounts) to churros and crepes. Both roughly around $15 a plate but totally worth it. Defiantly have to try it if you're ever in Queenstown, its located across from the country road and Louis Vuitton shop along the lake.
Tomorrow we are hitting the slopes (beginner slopes) for some skiing and snowboarding. I will be sure to write up everything and tell you all about it!
Living in Sydney you get 45 degree summers and 15 degree winters, so snow was a concept I could never fathom. I promised myself that if I had the opportunity i'd visit the snow while in New Zealand. We have two days off and I convinced myself it was a good idea... Waking up at 7am to be down the at the ski rental shop by 7:15am practically in my pjs I arrived and got fitted. It was fairly expensive but lasted all day, included a lift pass, 2 lessons, equipment hire and the return bus from Queenstown. Costing around $220 it was a big decision as that was almost 1/4 of my budget. Once fitted I was going to go home and get some breakfast and shower, the rental owner had other ideas. Long story short after a small discussion convincing him to let me go back home I found myself on the bus to Coronet Peak at 7:45am. Mind you we only get home at 2am that morning so today was going to be an uphill battle.
Arriving at 8:20am I had two hours before my lesson. Feeling like a walking sumo wrestler I waddled up the stairs to get some breakfast from the restaurant. It was fairly expensive so if you want to eat while your up on the slopes I'd suggest to pack lunch. A locker is $10 for the day and fits a lot! After consuming what was a massive breakfast I waddled my way downstairs to my lesson. I have never seen snow let alone tried to ski so my expectations were very very low. The lesson started, I was honestly the worst beginner the instructor had every seen. He thought it was a great idea not to teach us how to brake first but how to ski down a hill. So thats exactly what I did, slide down the hill for about 20 minutes I couldn't get the hang of it and it was frustrating me to the point where I wanted to throw the towel in after 30 minutes... I persevered and thankfully after about an hour I was able to stay stationary for longer then 3 seconds... The instructors come from all over the world so it's a great way to learn how to ski/ snowboard as they are experience various conditions and all have different things that work for them.
I had a friend join me for half the day, after my first lesson I was pretty confident with the mentality I was invincible because I went from the bottom on the class to the top. So when he suggested we hit the harder slopes I thought that was a great idea. If anyone knows me well most of my great ideas don't end well... I went from the beginner slopes which is maybe 25m basically straight when a slight dip to the intermediate slopes made for skiers that have a few days or more experience. Once we took the lift up it was very high. That was the point I realised I had my work cut out for me. We went down the first curve and I was going too fast for my liking and instead of braking like I was thought how to 45 minutes before I jumped forwarded and face planted into the snow, nice one... Once I reattached my ski's I was convinced I could complete the rest of the slope even though i'd completed about 10 m by that point.
I managed to control my speed a lot more once getting up and managed to complete the 150m slope. It was an unreal feeling gliding down the mountain and going in and out of other people. Consequently I convinced my friend to do it another 3 times. I didn't fall again and was basically a professional skier by the end of the day. I was so proud of myself for not giving up in the beginning when I thought it was too hard. After a very quick lunch I went back to my second lesson, I learned how to parallel ski and ski backwards. I wasn't brave enough to try them on the bigger slopes so I went up and down the learner slopes for the rest of the afternoon.
Taking a bus home around 4pm, we got some dinner with topdeck and basically crashed due to a food coma and the fact that both Kassia and I had massive days. We have to be up at 5am for our trip to Milford Sound so it's a good idea to get some sleep
Waking up at 5am isn't anyones idea of a good start to the morning. Basically still sleeping I rolled out of bed and onto the bus to start our 5 hour drive to milford sound. Having breakfast on the bus and sleeping for about 2 hours we had a little rest stop in a small town to go to the bathroom and buy some snacks for the road before continuing our journey to Milford. The drive down is one of the scenic views i've ever seen. We drove for another 3 hours and arrived at Milford Sound at 11:30am. I am going to be honest for me it was a bit overrated. There are so many beautiful mountains and lakes around New Zealand very similar. It is one of the only places in the world that fresh water and salt water meet and are combined. There are various waterfalls. We got lucky as there was rainfall the night before so there was temporary water falls everywhere! It was very pretty to be fair!
There are some places to stop along the road, as it's only one way in and one way out you will see signs for them coming up as you drive. We stopped at what i can only describe as the biggest drop in a water stream i've seen. It was huge, Between all the stops we did we took about 1-2 hours longer than if we drove straight there. For memory is only 160kms away from Queenstown.
I would recommend taking the river cruise that lasts about an hour. As it was included in our topdeck I don't know pricing very well but it's worth it! The boat ride itself is gorgeous. We got lunch on the boat and spent an hour gliding through the sound checking out all the water falls and the animal life. There are seals, dolphins and sometimes whales that come through as the sound is fairly deep it allows for these sea creatures to come in and out. After seeing a few seals, travelling to the Tasman sea and taking in some tall waterfalls, the boat turned around and we headed back to the dock. Arriving back to MIlford Dock at 2:30pm we all got on the bus and started the long journey back to Queenstown. Sleeping most of the way it was a long but but very worth it!
After an evening Flight into Queenstown with Jetstar it was straight to the Reaver’s lodge to check in. If you’re looking to bundle your ski hire and accommodation the Reaver’s Lodge owned by Ski/Snow operator OzSnow allows you to do that.
It is a little bit out of town but it’s definitely a walkable distance to Queenstown’s attractions. We checked in and got a bite to eat upstairs at Hugo’s Bar. Before heading out for a few drinks into town. Queenstown has got a decent amount of restaurants and places to grab a drink so there is always something to do in town.
We had a 7am wake up call for breakfast and snow hire. You can rent gear straight from the lodge which is awesome because it can he fairly uncomfortable to carry around everywhere if you hired multi day in town.
Had a quick breakfast before hopping on the shuttle bus to the Remarkable’s Ski Mountain (about a 30-45 minute drive). You can purchase lessons and a lift pass there otherwise with your ski hire or a travel agent.
I had only skied once before so I need opt for the refresher lesson. They have 2 lessons per day a morning session and after lunch. It’s perfect for those you have never been on the snow before or like me need a bit of a reminder of the techniques etc.
After having a quick lunch which you can buy from the cafes inside (they can be fairly overpriced too so if you want to bring your own i’d highly recommend it) we went back out for some fun in the snow.
There hadn’t been too much snow fall in the last couple of days so the powder on the mountain wasn’t to thick but enough to make some snowballs and snow angels… In the afternoon I headed up the magic carpet into the larger slopes for beginners.
Having originally learned at Coronett Peak I would suggest remarkable’s for first timers. It’s got a larger slope for when you’re ready to learn a bit more and is a lot wider and longer than the learning space at Coronett Peak.
We headed back about 4pm from the snow field on the last shuttle. There are shuttles running from Queenstown bus station all day until 4pm. These are usually included in your lift pass so there is no need to pay extra for them.
Once arriving back we collected all of our gear and went back to the Reaver’s Lodge. I would suggest if you’re going to stay there to get a cab or a locker for your equipment as unless your staying right in the town centre it is just easier.
The taxi to the Reaver’s Lodge is about $8-12 NZ, well worth it if you ask me! We had a bite to eat at Hugo’s Bar (upstairs on site to the lodge). They always have specials for meals so you can ask them daily.
The drinks are super cheap in Queenstown if you can get in for happy hour. When it comes to food I would highly recommend exploring town at least 2 nights during your stay as there are so many options!