#WinterFest82

It was my birthday last week, I’ve reached the grand age of 35 – where I feel like I should maybe contemplate growing up at some point in the near future. Or not.

Mr S treated me to a fantastic long weekend in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Queenstown is at the bottom of the South Island so we flew there with Air New Zealand, woolly hats at the ready.

We didn’t realise when we booked that we were arriving at the beginning of the Winter Festival, the official start to the ski season. It added a fantastic sense of occasion to the weekend and we really felt that we were seeing Queenstown at its best. 

This was our first foray into air bnb – we’ve never used it before and we were unsure what to expect. The room was comfortable with a lovely hot shower (essential for warming up after a day outside in minus temperatures!) but I think I read the description wrong. 

After dumping our bags and exploring our room, we noticed an almost identical room next door and realised that we’d be sharing the bathroom and toilet with our neighbours. So long showers were off the menu. 

We headed into town for some dinner and choose a fantastic restaurant called Ivy & Lola’s on the wharf. The food was delicious and the view across the lake was incredible!

On our second day we planned a trip to Milford Sound and left obscenely early in the morning to drive for 4 hours through some of the most stunning scenery my eyes have ever seen.

The waterfalls, the mountains, the sheer lonely grandeur was breathtaking. I felt that I needed about 20 more eyes in my head so that I didn’t miss anything. 

Just 30 minutes from our destination we stopped in front of a tunnel, pictured below. I’m not joking when I say that this is a ‘tunnel’ in the very loosest term of the word – it’s more of a hole in some rock. VERY TALL ROCK.

They’ve essentially drilled a hole through the biggest mountain I’ve ever come close to… and that’s it. No lighting, no reinforcements, just rock on either side and above you. And it’s single track, so you have to wait until the traffic from the other side is through and the lights go green. After 8pm, they turn the traffic lights off and you take your chances. It’s the most Kiwi thing I’ve seen and I love it 😀

One of the things we have learned about New Zealand is that even the road signs are humble about the fantastic things they are directing you to. As we drove towards the place we had booked our boat trip from, we spotted a sign with ‘The Chasm 400m’. Intrigued, we pulled over to check it out and I’m so pleased we did!

The Chasm was a 10 minute walk on bridges above a gorge, filled with incredible rock formations that the raging waters had formed over thousands of years. It was wonderful to watch, I made a video so you can see the waters yourself: https://youtu.be/q5EalKP4q4o

We met a cheeky Kea in the car park, these parrots are notorious for nibbling on windscreen wipers and stealing your food. They are very brave and this one chased us all the way to our hire car. 

Milford Sound is known as the 8th wonder of the world and it boasts the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever had the privilege to look upon.

We had booked a boat trip with Real Journeys, who also operate in Queenstown. I’d been on a trip with them during a work conference and loved it, I’d highly recommend them. 

The trip was awesome, we saw seals swimming alongside the boat, got close enough to waterfalls that we felt the spray on our faces and experienced a wind phenomenon called venturi which put windy Wellington to shame. Observe my battle with the wind: https://youtu.be/ZpXZ-Y4Jy94

Check out some of the boat trip here: https://youtu.be/lW46iR7Avek

The view on the way back, with the sun setting was just as spectacular. 

The next day we headed up the Skyline Gondola as one of my best friends in the UK had bought me the fantastic present of a couple of luge rides on the side of the mountain. The views were fantastic and I got to experience a chairlift and a luge for the first time ever!

We took our GoPro with us and got some footage of the luge ride, take a look: https://youtu.be/hXm7HXQlSrI

We had an incredible weekend and I can’t wait to go back to Queenstown when woolly hats aren’t required!

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