Sunday, February 13, 2011
Today we had a free morning in Queenstown. Some people signed up for different activities but I preferred to walk around Queenstown and soak up the sights. The town center itself is fairly small and was mostly shops and eateries so I made several rounds of it and it didn't take up much time. But it was nice to walk around and be leisurely for a bit. Most of the tour days are filled with some kind of activity or another but I like to walk around and soak up the atmosphere when I can. I'm starting to flag on being a tourist. I don't think I can handle one more souvenir shop full of tsotchkes. Fortunately I've traveled enough times that I no longer feel the need to buy a bunch of stuff from the places I've visited. I usually buy a refrigerator magnet from each place I go to but I've been cutting back on that too since we've gone to so many places. Now I'm focusing more on appreciating each area we go to while we're there and don't feel the need to fill every minute with activity or buy some token memento of it. I'm taking pictures to capture some of the sights and memories and that's probably the best thing I can do right now.
This afternoon we met as a group and took a gondola ride up Bob's Peak. After the world's longest gondola in Kuranda, this one was pretty short and not that high. At the top of the gondola, there were various activities you could sign up (and pay) for such as luge, bungy jumping, and paragliding. I toyed with the idea of paragliding since I'd never done it before but it was going to be $200 for a brief ride in the air and I couldn't bring myself to do it. I stayed on the deck and admired the view instead.
The trip itself is actually reasonably priced considering what is included in it and the places we've stayed at but you can spend a lot on extras like the excursions and meals and they do add up. I'm staying off my credit cards as much as possible, given the foreign transaction fees Amex would charge me. I did break down though and opted to pay extra for a plane ride tomorrow back from Milford Sound instead of the 4-hour bus ride back, mostly because we fly out over spectacular scenery and I want to see that. I can't get over the beauty of New Zealand. It's pretty incredible and makes this is a return destination for me.
Tonight we're taking a steamship to Walters Peak where we'll get a sheep shearing demonstration and dinner then tomorrow is Milford Sound all day. I've heard the views there are even more spectacular and I'm looking forward to that.
The trip so far has surpassed my expectations and if anyone is considering traveling to this part of the world, I would highly recommend it. There's so much to see and experience and I'm glad I got the opportunity to do this.