Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My New Favorite Place...

Wow! What a week! Where to start...?!

Well, I'm now in Queenstown - which is my new favorite place, EVER. This town is uber cool, with such a great vibe, not to mention it is in a most fabulous locale!! I love it!!

Getting here on the other hand, has been a bit of an epic. Okay, maybe 'epic' is an exaggeration... but I've definitely learned alot about myself this past couple of weeks... Oy!! Travelling half way around the world, by myself, shortly after some major life changes... honestly - laugh if you will - I've contemplated more than once, just getting on a plane and coming home. I know, I know - I'm such a baby!! Hee hee!! But I worked through it, and I must say that the people I've met have truly made my adventure more amazing than I ever could have imagined! And now, with the end of my vacation drawing near, I am at the other end of the spectrum - I would give anything to stay!  **SIGH**

So... what's been happening... Well, last week I took the ferry from Wellington to Picton. And that experience seriously ranked in the top five MOST UNFUN things I've ever done! The winds were blowing 60kts gusting to 100kts... seas were 5-7m... the ship listed hard to the left and the ride was incredibly rough for the entire 22km Cook Strait crossing... Suffice it to say, I made damn sure I knew exactly where the liferafts were located!! Luckily, I opted to upgrade to the Executive Lounge where food and drinks (liquor!) were free... Upon my arrival in Picton, the unfun turned into some serious fun, when I hung out for the evening at a local Irish Pub - the Kiwis seem to love Canadians and I was made to feel more than welcome at my first stop on the South Island.

Next, I made my way to Christchurch and then to Greymouth, where I joined up with the second hiking group. We had quite a variety of personalities in this bunch: Oliver, a German lawyer; Anna, a British insurance company executive; Marion, an Aussie agricultural specialist; Angela, a horse breeder from Britain; Maryna, a structural engineer from the US who lives in Australia; and our guide Scotty, who was an enthusiastic, full-on Kiwi.

While we did see a few incredible places along the way, the weather didn't cooperate nearly as well as for the North Island trip. So after 4 days of perpetual rain and cold temps, I opted to head to Queenstown. Maryna decided to do the same, and we hopped a bus at Fox Glacier and arrived in paradise - aka Queenstown - yesterday. And - get this - as the bus door opened, I was immediately greeted with "Hi Cheryle!"... On a completely random hike a few days earlier, I met a couple of locals and chatted for at least an hour with them... and in this small world we live in, one of them happened to be sitting there on the bus! How's my luck!

The ferry, pulling into Picton.

Check out some of the ferry cargo!!
Train ride from Picton to Christchurch.

Pacific Coast

The second hiking group.
Random plant life.

Rainy day at Okarito.
Wandering on the beach at Okarito.
Fox Glacier
The gang at Fox Glacier - Marion, Oliver, Maryna, Anna, Angela.

Fox Glacier
Paradise - seriously!!
Paragliders above Queenstown
Launching near the gondola.
Maryna gets ready to launch.

We have lift-off!

Ahhhhh, life is good!!

As you can probably see, Queenstown is aptly named - fit for a Queen, the town itself is phenomenal and the weather here is completely awesome. It is supposed to stay that way for several more days, and there is so much to do here I don't even know where to start! I went up the gondola today and then took a boat tour of Lake Wakatipu... and a wine tour, a Milford Sound tour, and a day or two in the Remarkables are all possibly in my future - but I'll keep you posted!


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