I didn’t want to make any promises about posting, but I thought I’d chronicle my time so far. My retreat starts Monday in Wanaka, but I planned my first 2 days to stay in Queenstown.
Queenstown is a little crazy and I don’t get involved with the real hoopla, but I love it still (not more than Wanaka though). I am staying at Adventure Queenstown Hostel, where we stayed when we came through last year. I walked part of Te Araroa’s track from the airport to Queenstown and it really transplanted me back to our thru hike, which is one of the main reasons I came to NZ to write. And even though this is my favorite hostel ever, no hostel is associated with “quiet writing space.” So for my first 2 days in New Zealand, I put on my tourist cap.
Being in Queenstown allowed me to visit with a fellow Te Araroa walker, Matteo. We hiked about 500 kilometers of the TA with Matteo and the lucky bastard never left the country after the trek. He is living and working in Queenstown and I am insanely jealous of that. Oh, and of his deep Italian accent.
This weekend happens to coincide with Waitangi Day, a public holiday in New Zealand to celebrate the country’s founding document. In celebration, Queenstown hosts the “Rural Games,” a celebration of the sports that built the nation.
I was able to catch a few competitions, including coal shoveling, egg throwing and speed sheep shearing (say that 3 times fast), but unfortunately I missed cowpat tossing, gumboot throwing and speed tree climbing. True story. I also witnessed the “running of the wools.” It was a very “ewe” nice experience. Really, how could I make any of this up?
As Queenstown is the “adventure capital of the world,” it is really, really difficult not to give into all the adrenaline surrounding the town. I found a last-minute deal on BookMe (such an awesome discount site for things to do in NZ) for taking a jet-propelled boat tour down the Kawarau River with Thunder Jet. The jet boats get up to 50mph and twists and turns smoothly over the shallow water and through the stunning NZ landscape. It is quite an exhilarating (and refreshing ride).