Driving from Christchurch to Queenstown

Trip to Tekapo, Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown. June 2nd to June 4th

The long weekend arrived and was very much welcomed. That one day off in the week really makes a difference. Made the decision to go to Queenstown about a week before it was planned. I went with Anna, who I met on travel buddy (www.travbuddy.com) and three other girls, all students who are in Christchurch doing a semister at Canterbury University. Two from Canada and one from Finland. So with myself and Anna, who is Polish, it was quite a multicultural trip.
We left Christchurch after 11am on Saturday morning. The other girls had got a relocation deal on a rental car to take it to Queenstown, for something silly like $40, with a free tank of fuel. We drove south to Lake Tekapo, which is a stunning place. I went there for the first time back in Feburary, and I raved about it. The water is so blue, and the mountains around it are totally stunning. This time, it did not fail to live up to its amazingness! The water was still so blue and the mountains where covered in snow.

The Church of The Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo (probably one of the most photographed churches in the South Island!)

A view from Mount John Observatory – a 15 minute drive out of Lake Tekapo (Stunning!)

Whilst in Tekapo for the night, we stayed at Tekapo scenic lodge ‘budget accommodation’, which is basically like a cross between a motel and backpackers. We booked out an 6 person room and paid $17 for the night. It was a pretty lovely place. The rooms had electric blankets on all the beds and a heater. So we left the heater on while we went out, and it was rather toasty when we got back.

On Saturday night, we decided to go to Lake Tekapo thermal resort and ice rink. We had a booklet of things to do in the South Island, which gives discount vouchers. The voucher for this place either gave you 10% off skate hire, or a free hot drink. We went for the hot drink. Ideally what we wanted to do was to go to the ice rink, then hot pools and finish off with a hot chocolate. However, there was an ice hockey team practicing in the rink for the first hour we went. So we went into the hot pools first, which was amazing. There is something pretty awesome at being able to sit in a giant bath (essentially!) on a freezing cold night. We had hot chocolates in the cafe (before it closed) and went skating for an hour. I was asked by one of the girls where I learnt to skate, which was positive, as I’ve never had lessons, and actually was thinking of going to skate school here next month.

The ice rink at Tekapo thermal springs

Sunday morning – we left Tekapo pretty early (before 8am) to travel to Queenstown. We made several little stops along the way for photo opportunities, and boy there were a good few of them. This country is totally stunning and has the most amazing scenery!

We made our way to Wanaka and stopped off in Puzzle world, which is a pretty fun place. You could spend a significant amount of time at it, and not get bored. Inside the made centre, they had puzzles for you to try and figure out, but mostly get frustrated over! They had illusion rooms, and a crazy room which totally messed with your balance (see photo below). We also had a go at the great maze. Note I’ve said “a go” I had to give up after only finding two corners of the maze! I literally treked around for ages trying to find the yellow corner, but ended up where I started!

These girls are standing normally – the room is slanted – cool eh?!

Outside puzzle world – the leaning tower of Wanaka

We left Wanaka with only a good three hours to get to Queenstown (the car needed to be dropped off at the airport by 3pm), so had a chance to stop off in the little town of Arrowtown. It is such a small wee town, and appeared quite dated, with cute wee wooden buildings you’d expect to see in a country and western movie. There were a lot of little quaint shops and the odd tourist shop selling knock off UGG boots. I bought a waterproof jacket, which probably isn’t the best. I liked it, as it is purple, but it is mainly polyester, so not as breathable as it could be (#should have went to the Kathmandu sale)


After leaving Arrowtown, we headed straight to Queenstown and checked in at the Black sheep hostel, which was a pretty standard hostel. Clean, comforable and cheap ($20 per night). We explored most of Queenstown in about an hour – it is fairly easy to walk around in a wee circuit.
I really like Queenstown, it has a cool wee buzz about it. Although it is very tourist focused and you could spend a lot of money. We had dinner at a Thai place, and later went out for a few drinks. Even in winter, there were still a lot of people around. I guess backpackers explore NZ all year round!
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, and I can see why. Think of the most craziest activity you could do, and Queenstown probably has it. From Quad biking, to whizzing around on a seqway, to the more adventerous things like jet boating, paragliding, bungy jumping and canyon swinging. Again, you could spend A LOT of money!

I’ve already completed a skydive, a bungy off Auckland harbour bridge, a jump off the Skytower in Auckland. Now it was the turn of the Canyon swing. I really want to do the Nevis, which is New Zealand’s largest bungy jump, but I am saving that until I can get a group of us going to do it together. Likely in October!

So I booked a spot on the Shotover canyon swing (www.canyonswing.co.nz), which is the world’s higest cliff jump. It was freakin’ amazing!!! I think I actually preferred it to the bungy in fact. The staff were pretty awesome and quite quirky! I think they like to be different as the AJ Hackett bungy crew are quite dominent in QT and everyone goes there to do a bungy.
So arriving at the swing HQ on Shotover street, I checked in, signed the usual forms. Got weighed (I’ve put on weight – back to the gym this week!!) and then got a cute little character drawn on my hand (a crocodile – see below). I think they do this as AJ Hackett write a number on your hand (your weight, which is pretty shocking – I don’t want to share that info with everyone, ta!)

This was quite hard to get off the next day, which made it interesting at work!

After a short bus trip up to the cliff (shotover canyon), we were there and ready to rock (or jump!) The whole thing was pretty amazing. The staff were very quirky, but great craic – joking about dying in cliff jumps and saying that the harness wasn’t connected well enough as you were dangling over the cliff. I totally recommend this to anyone, it is amazing!

I think these videos speak more than I could about it.

Jump one:

Jump two:

After this adrendaline fuelled activity,  had three hours or so to explore QT. I had an epic burger in a place called fergeburger, which is insane. You could have anything you wanted in a burger. I couldn’t finish mine!

We choose to get back to ChCh by bus – 7 hours, in a little mini bus, it passed quickly, but next time I am totally flying down.

Really loved QT, and now have another trip booked for September, just for the night, as Jetstar had a sale – $68 return (which is roughly £34), amazing.

It’s now Friday again, and the week had flown by, thanks to the public holiday on Monday. It snowed on Wednesday, a massive dumping of it, but I think that is for another post, as it is now well after my bed time, and I am up to go to the gym early in the morning, to practice for this 5K mud sweat and tears challenge in 2 weeks time (# unprepared!)

I’ve recently updated my blog to include pictures, which I’d like to do more often, as I think it makes better reading.

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