I am finally, finally in Queenstown. Its the adventure capital of NZ and its beautiful. Its at the southern end of the Southern Alps and is basically a tourist town. It was settled during the goldrush and has thrived, like no other town, due to the ski resorts and then later on other tourist attractions. On the drive in we passed two waterfalls, Roaring Meg and Gentle Annie, named after two prostitutes who worked down here during the gold rush. Property is also very expensive down here, its not like the rest of the West Coast. Most people who live here are either very wealthy and own holiday homes or work in tourism. In fact I have met very few kiwis down here.
It was the first place in the world to have a commercial bungy jump, which opened back in 1988. A.J. Hackett and Henry van Asch are the owners and founders of the Bungy company. They were inspired after seeing tribes living in Vanuatu, the Pacific island. They would tie vines to their ankles and jump off tall towers. After a few crazy jumps including one from a ski gondola and an illegal jump from under the Eiffel Tower, they eventually tested and developed the bungy cords we have today. There is no way on earth I am going to do a bungy. I know its safer than sky diving as there is no landing, therefore no possibility of getting hurt, but they say it is much scarier. You have to jump yourself, which I don't think I could do, and you see the ground rushing towards you, whereas in a skydive it is so far away. One of the guys on the bus did it. He said had he hesitated one more second he wouldn't have done it, and its the most terrifying thing he's ever done. The worst bit was when it all finished and he was being winched up, there was a click and he fell about 5 feet before it carried on. He said that at that click he genuinely thought he was going to die! Nope, no way!
Queenstown really is the adventure capital of the world. You go sky diving, hand gliding, paragliding, theres a zip-wire down the hill, a luge, jet boating, rafting, river surfing, rock climbing, skiing and loads of other crazy stuff. There is also a canyon swing, where you jump off a ledge and swing into a canyon, also run by A.J. Hackett. It think what happens in New Zealand is that the population is so small, and there is so much awesome landscape that people just go and do crazy things, I mean if you want to stay in New Zealand it is mostly farming and tourism. If you want to be a scientist or computer geek you have to go to Australia, so for those left here there is not a lot, just the land. That's why people started jumping off bridges and out of helicopters onto deer. Even big corporate companies are just small branches of even bigger global (or at least Australian) companies. So I guess if you have the choice of jumping out of planes for a living or being a farmer, well, some people go the crazy route. And all this crazy stuff that you can do here, its actually safer than driving, I mean you are more likely to die in a car crash then a plane crash. It just feels more dangerous because its more unusual. Even more crazy is that the bar we went to for dinner last night, it had a skate park in it. As in an actual place for skate borders to go. In a bar. That describes New Zealand for you!
I went hand gliding again today. This one was different as there was no plane to tow us up, we had to run and jump off the mountain, that was the only part I was scared about. Its not a very fast run though. The hardest part was then putting my feet on the metal bar so I could lie flat. This time I was also hanging next to the pilot, instead of on top of him so it was easier to talk and I got a better view. I got to fly as well this time, that was pretty cool. The view was amazing, being up above the trees and seeing the lake in the distance. There were also patches of cloud below us which added a bit of interest. Its been like that the last few days, patches of fog and low clouds, it looks like the misty mountains from The Hobbit! I did get scared when we came in to land and he did a steep dive without telling me, but other than that it was so much fun! I also want to do the luge and the zip-wire thing, but I'm saving that till the end of the month when my friend comes down and I come back here with her.