Queenstown

From Wanaka, it’s a magnificently scenic drive over the Crown Range road to reach Queenstown. We were headed straight to the Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump. We turned up the tunes and enjoyed the drive.

views from crown range road

views from crown range road

When we arrived at the Kawarau Bridge, I’m pretty sure I was more nervous than Jay, even though he was the one jumping and not me. I had no desire to do it. I’d had my fill of bungy at the Royal Gorge with my sister about 10 years ago. This would be Jay’s first bungy jump, and no better place for it than here – at the world’s first bungy jump in adrenaline-packed Queenstown.

kawarau bridge

kawarau bridge

It’s a 43-meter (140 ft) bungy off the Kawarau Bridge. You get to choose whether you want to bob above the water, touch it, or get dunked. Jay chose to get dunked!

on the bridge, getting set up to bunny!

on the bridge, getting set up to bungy!

there he goes!

there he goes!

there he goes!

wow! I’m watching from the viewing deck (that’s me with backpack & hat)

flying!

flying!

the dunk!

the dunk!

For a taste of the thrill, check out these videos. The first one is the professional video taken by the bungy company. The second is the video from our GoPro that Jay had strapped to his chest. Two warnings on the GoPro video…#1 it may make your stomach turn as it puts you in Jay’s shoes, and #2, there is an expletive at 2:45.

In the GoPro video, Jay get’s asked a couple of times about the girls who jumped tandem right before him (see the two girls crouched down in the first picture above). They just happened to also be from Boulder, Colorado…what are the odds? We talked to the girls and their parents for a bit before and after the jump – they were taking six-months to travel the world together, so cool! Also, you’ll notice in the GoPro video that the guys keep calling Jay by the name Jeremy – that’s his legal name.

When I talked to Jay afterwards, one of the first things he said to me was that he wanted to do it AGAIN! So, needless to say, he really enjoyed it!

After the jump, we decided to head to Cromwell and camp there for the night. It was a sleepy town, most everything was closed by the time we got there around 6pm, but we found a nice little spot to camp next to the water at Lowburn Harbor.

cromwell

old cromwell town (rebuilt on higher ground after the clyde dam flooded the area where it used to sit)

old cromwell town, all the shops are still in operation but closed by the time we got there

old cromwell town, all the shops are still in operation but were closed by the time we got there

lowburn harbor camping spot

lowburn harbor camping spot

watching the sunset over the lake

a room with a view 🙂

The following day, we set off to hike to the summit of Ben Lomond Mountain. As the crow flies, the summit is only about 2.5 miles from downtown Queenstown. But it’s a long ascent when you’re hiking it. Round-trip it was 9.5 miles and took us 5.5 hours from start to finish. We started the hike from the bottom of the Queenstown gondola. Getting from the bottom to the top of the gondola is a steep ascent…no wonder some people choose to take the gondola instead of hiking that stretch.

view of the gondola from town, steep stuff

view of the gondola from town

taking a breather on this cool chair built into a tree stump

taking a breather on this cool chair built into a tree stump

beautiful views of lake wakatipu as we climb up

beautiful views of lake wakatipu as we make our way up through the trees

When we reached the top of the gondola, we saw a helicopter take off from the mid-mountain helicopter pad. I imagine a scenic helicopter ride would be a pretty cool way to see Queenstown, but that was not in our budget.

helicopter take off!

helicopter take off!

From the top of the gondola are stunning views of Lake Wakatipu. The next section of the track, to the saddle, is on a gentler slope. Along the way, you can see the Ben Lomond summit get closer and closer.

view from the top of the gondola

view from the top of the gondola

making our way to the saddle

making our way to the saddle

stopping to enjoy the view

stopping to enjoy the view

enjoying the gentle slope on this section

enjoying the gentle slope on this section

we can see the summit and know we have a long way to go still

we can see the summit (that’s it behind me) and know we still have a long way to go

action shot…jay took this one over his shoulder without even looking!

action shot…jay took this one over his shoulder without even looking!

we come a long way, but still have a long way to go

we’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go

From the saddle, it’s a very steep ascent to the summit. But the remarkable views during the climb almost make you forget about the burning sensation in your legs.

more views of lake wakatipu

endless views of lake wakatipu

the trail

the trail

almost to the top

almost to the top

the views

the views during the leg burner stretch

can't get enough of these views!

can you see how this could make you forget about the burning sensation in your legs?

Once at the top, there are spectacular 360-degree views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. We were fortunate to have perfectly clear, sunny skies. From the summit, we were even able to see Mount Earnslaw and Mount Aspiring in the distance. The views were absolutely stunning.

we made it!

we made it!

reapplying sunscreen on the summit

jay captures my ritual of reapplying sunscreen whenever we reach a summit

scenic shot

summit shot

wow!

stunning!

photo opp

I was here!

On our descent, several folks still making their way up asked us, “Is it worth it”? Our response was “yes, absolutely”!

starting our descent

starting our descent

soaking in the views

soaking in the views

coming down one of the steep sections

coming down one of the steep sections

a couple mountain goats checking us out as we check them out

a couple of mountain goats checking us out as we check them out

Throughout the hike, the song “Beautiful Day” by U2 was running through my head. “It’s a beautiful day…don’t let it get away.” Yep, my thoughts exactly.

The next morning, I went for a 16-mile run (which was my longest training run for the Boston Marathon while we were overseas). There is a path called the “Frankton Arm Walkway” that goes from downtown Queenstown all the way around the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, following the waters edge. The path was primarily crusher fine trail, one of my favorite surfaces for running. I loved this run!

i took a selfie, but it didn't turn out very well

stopping for a selfie

historic kawarau bridge

historic kawarau bridge

view running across the bridge

view running across the bridge

view toward queenstown from the bridge

view toward queenstown from the bridge

the trail

the trail

In addition to all the activities, we enjoyed just hanging out in downtown Queenstown. Good food, good coffee, a great vibe, and the weather was perfect!

just chillin' in queenstown

just chillin’ in queenstown

queenstown pedestrian mall

queenstown pedestrian mall

william gilbert rees (founder of queenstown)

william gilbert rees (founder of queenstown)

sunset views from our camping spot at nearby lake hayes

sunset views from our camping spot at nearby lake hayes

queenstown sunrise

queenstown sunrise

morning stop at the fergbaker for one of their infamous pies

morning stop at the ferg bakery for one of their infamous pies

ferg bakery

ferg bakery

queenstown bay

queenstown bay

queenstown bay

queenstown bay

queenstown bay at sunset

queenstown bay at sunset

We loved Queenstown. It reminded us a bit of Boulder, with its compact, pedestrian-friendly downtown filled with shops and restaurants; and the fact that it’s a town surrounded by mountains with an extensive network of trails and biking routes filled with people who love the active, outdoor lifestyle. If only Boulder was wrapped around a beautiful lake like Queenstown wraps around Lake Wakatipu. In our opinion, Queenstown is quite simply one of the best small towns in the world.

One response to “Queenstown

  1. Great form Jay!!!! You looked very graceful with your free fall. Loved watching both videos! Fun to see Jay jump~not something I would be brave enough for~ I think I would have been screaming rather than one expletive~I thought maybe his breathing changed a little but he seemed pretty calm through it! Interesting about them calling him by his legal name “Jeremy”~ learned something I didn’t know about you! I had to laugh when you said you lived in a “small” town of 50,000…loved listening to their accents too~that is a beautiful place and the water is so pretty. What a small world that the family was from same place in USA on same day of jumping! I agree~Queenstown is a wonderful town!

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