Welp, it’s the end of an era. Tonight we’ll be in Queenstown and the bus will disband. Some are heading to Christchurch, some are heading South, and I’m going to Te Anau. It’s kind of a sad thing to think about.
Before we left Wanaka, we had time for one last activity. Some went walking up Mt. Iron, while some of us headed into the local attraction ‘Puzzling World.’ This is a building just outside town that’s filled with puzzles and visual illusions, including a two storey maze. With Stray, its $17 to get in, and I check out the puzzle section first.
The first room is a wall of holographic images, while the next is a tilted room, where everything is on an angle – or at least, seems to be. Chairs and pool balls move opposite to what you expect, and can really hurt your brain.
The next area is a room filled with faces that follow you – at the right angle, they appear to be 3D casts, but they actually concave, and just a little bit creepy. Next up is a room that turns you from a tiny person into a giant through warped ceilings and floors.
The last room is a display of sculptures, including the classic suspended tap and the two-faces-or-one-vase. These were probably my favourite since you had to think about how they worked sometimes.
Finally, with 40 minutes to go, I head into the maze. Unlike most traditional mazes, you needed to find your way to the four coloured watchtowers and then make your way to the exit. Made even harder by the sets of stairs you had to use, and the panelling that made it hard to tell if there was a path or not until you reached a dead end.
As such, I spent 30 minutes hopelessly lost, before stumbling upon the red tower through sheer dumb luck. I also managed to find the yellow tower, but by then my time was up, and I had to head back to the bus. Truly frustrating.
A few hours later, we had another stop for ‘food.’ Specifically fruit and veg at Mrs Jones Fruit and Veg Stall. This store sells a lot of locally grown produce, and some real fruit ice cream. I was in heaven – some of the fruits were at a really good price, and I admit I indulged a little too much by grabbing a multipack of fruit, a bag of cherries, a box of raspberries and some dried mango. It’s been too long since I had fruit that wasn’t apples.
We had just one more stop before we entered Queenstown, just ten minutes outside of town – the original AJ Hackett commercial bungy on Kawarau Bridge. Once used to guide traffic over the valley, it now serves as a launch pad for those wanting to jump off high objects strapped to bungy cords and fall 43 metres. Only one stray passenger was brave enough to risk it, and we all crowded to the viewing area to watch.
I’ve always said the one thing I’d never do is bungy jump, but watching people take the leap – it doesn’t look half as bad as I expected. I’m half tempted to try, but remind myself that I’ve got something similar prepared for tomorrow– plus, they’re fully booked until this afternoon. I’d have to stay after the bus left in order to try.
When we get back on the bus, Lolly suggests that tonight, to celebrate our last day, we have one more Christmas Party, this time by the Queenstown lake in the evening, and we all agree before tidying up all the decorations and tree as we hit Queenstown, since even the bus will be heading somewhere else tomorrow with another driver.
Queenstown is A LOT smaller than I expected. It’s essentially two main streets and a whole lot of side streets all hanging round a lake. I love it instantly.
We’re staying at yet another Base, which is just down the road from most of the big attraction booking offices. We’re also just across the road from the infamous Fergburger, which has a line out the door. I’m told it’s NEVER not got a queue.
I take this opportunity to head to Peter Pans and get my Ice Tour cash transferred to my Milford Dive, and also check on the time for the activity I decided to try instead – the Shotover Canyon Swing, but more on that tomorrow.
I head round town, mostly just checking out the shops and side streets before heading back to the hostel and getting ready to meet everyone at the lake.
I wasn’t entirely sure where we’d end up. Lolly had just suggested we go on the left side somewhere. As such I almost missed them hanging out in a tree behind a playground. Only spotted them due to Lolly’s Santa suit.
It’s not just our group showing up either. Leftie’s bug is here with its trainees, as it Nat – who unbelievably manages to recognise me by voice! My hair is completely different, but I open my mouth and she’s asking Lolly ‘is she from Scotland?’ So that was kind of cool.
We hang around the tree until sunset with people showing up all the time. We finally have to start moving when the police come over to warn us drinking around the lake is illegal after 10, so we’d better get ready to move. Drinks are finished or packed up, and we start migrating to the Base bar.
At least, half of us do. The other half stay close to the lake, when we hear fireworks are scheduled. They end up happening 20 minutes later than expected, and a few of us who’d given up and walked to the bar bolted back to watch them.
When we finally made it to the bar, I lasted 30 minutes before the lack of space and inability to talk had me heading upstairs. Still, not a bad way to end the West Coast part of the trip.