I met dad in Queenstown for the last leg of my trip. Flying into Queenstown was spectacular. I had great views of the Southern Alps and saw some glaciers from the air. After checking in, dad and I walked around the adventure resort town and contemplated what to do the following day.
The next morning, we took the gondola up to the top and went luging. This luging wasn’t real luging. It was on concrete rather than on ice and we went down at much slower speeds. Super goofy but tons of fun. After, we went to the paragliding desk and signed up on the spot. Paragliding was awesome. After getting strapped to the seat (and parachute), my tandem and I took several big steps. We then broke into a little jog. By this point, the chute had already filled with air and we were off the ground. I felt like I was a bird, with the cold wind on my face. It’s surreal to see cars going up and down streets, boats coming into the harbour, and people (aka dots) bustling around. From up in the air, you can see how small the town is and where man stops and nature begins (and extends). Just awesome to see Earth from that perspective. Both dad and I got about 10-12 minutes of flying time.
After flying back into town, we went on a little hike up to Queenstown Hill. It was dreadfully hot on the way up, but thankfully there was a breeze at the top. The Remarkables, which are a mountain range bordering the city, look strikingly like the Dolomites. (I think the Dolomites are grander. They’re much taller and they have vast green fields surrounding the mountains.) Back in Queenstown, we stopped by Mrs. Ferg for gelato (lemon meringue …I love lemon!) before heading to the Ultimate Hikes office for our pre-track briefing.
We had dinner at the hotel (real food, not bread and cheese!) and I got a delicious beetroot, beef, and spinach risotto. I’m looking for top qual risotto recipes, so if you have any favorites send them my way.
Side note: In Cairns, I met a vet (he looked old, like in his 40s, to be staying in hostels) who told me, “you’re going to miss the hostel life.” At the time, I thought, “no, no I’m definitely not,” especially since there was no AC and the hostel was pretty dirty. But when I got to the hotel with dad, I did miss the hostel community: the bustling kitchen, meeting new people, evening chats on our bunks. To be fair to hotels, I did LOVE having my own giant comfy bed, not being woken up at odd hours, and having my own bathroom.