ADVENTURES IN QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND PART #3
It’s day three in New Zealand with STA Travel and as I sit in my hotel room in Queenstown in the still of the night, I cannot wipe the smile from my face. It’s been an incredible day of extreme adventure, exploring, hiking and lots of driving. Today we went for a wild spin on the Shotover Jet just outside of Queenstown, then we jumped in the car and went for a long road trip to Milford Sound, stopping along the way to explore the wide open spaces that constantly caught our attention. DAY THREE
Shotover Jet A visit to Queenstown is not complete without a spin on the Shotover Jet just outside of Queenstown. Our ride was booked for 9am and we were required to arrive at the Shotover River 15 minute’s prior to collect our tickets. There is plenty of parking for those arriving by car or camper van, and upon entering the main building there is a wall filled with photos of celebrities who had been on the Shotover Jet including Brooke Shields, Peter Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate. You might have seen on the news recently they are currently on tour in New Zealand and Australia. During their time in New Zealand they visited Queenstown and went for a spin on the Shotover Jet!
After collecting our tickets and walking down a set of timber stairs, we met up with the rest of our group on the edge of the Shotover River where we were fitted with the required equipment – a long waterproof coat and life jacket. As we were waiting we got our photo taken and watched other jets speeding past. I couldn’t wait to have a turn! Not long after we jumped on the boat – I recommend the back row on the left hand side facing the driver as the right hand side gets drenched!
Now I won’t ruin the surprise but for about 30 minutes we sped down the Shotover River in both directions, driving super close to the cliffs and rocks, holding onto the hand railing as tight as possible as the driver spins the boat around in circles and lashes around. I recommend not wearing mascara (bit of a funny fail on my behalf) and avoid hats and beanies all together. There were a couple of girls sitting in front of me who spent the whole time trying to keep their beanies on. Do dress warmly, especially heading into winter. However I am extremely impressed with the heated handrails on the jet boat – genius!
Shotover Jet Gorge Road, Arthurs Points Queenstown New Zealand Ph: +64 3442 8570 www.shotover.com
Milford Sound Following our adrenalin fueled ride on the Shotover Jet, we jumped in the car and drove in the direction of Milford Sound. Approximately a four and a half hour drive west of Queenstown, the road took us south and then wrapped around north before heading out west. It was a long way to drive but undeniably worth every single moment.
Driving through Kingston, Garston, Mossburn and The Key, we stopped at Lake Te Anau to have a look at the South Fiordland in the Fiordland National Park. We turned left off the highway onto a disguised dirt road, which lead to a pebble beach where we were able to see the South Fiordland across the lake. In case you are a fiord novice like myself, a fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. I’ve never seen a fiord and was impressed at the sheer size of the valley carved by glacier!
Following this we drove along Lake Te Anau and found ourselves at Eglington Valley – an impressive glacial valley covered in low-lying clouds. New Zealand is called the ‘land of the long white cloud’ and I could see why. Putting the beauty of Eglington Valley into words is pointless, it is one of those landscapes that you need to see for yourself. I have taken some photos above which shows off its beauty, and if you have been following me on Instagram, here and here, you will see again just how incredible this glacial formed valley really is. It truly was one of those moments I’ll never, ever forget.
Following this we continued onto Milford Sound. The landscape dramatically changes, as you get closer to Milford Sound. The air is crisp, rain was falling, waterfalls were forming down the mountainous terrain and fresh water rivers were roaring. I honestly felt as though I was in Pandora from the movie Avatar. After driving onwards and upwards, we found ourselves at the front of a mounting leading into a roughly cut one-way tunnel. Powered by traffic lights and sensors, we only had to wait several minutes before descending down the tunnel in pitch darkness. It was very unnerving but as we cleared the tunnel from the other side we were smacked with the most affrontingly beautiful wide open valley I’d ever seen. Driving down and down, after 30 minutes or so we finally found ourselves parking the car and standing at Milford Sound. The sun was starting to set, the light was low, misty clouds choked the Sound, the rain was falling softly and we could see more fresh waterfalls falling from the top of the mountains surrounding us. Right here, in New Zealand, we had found an otherworldly paradise that is beyond belief.
For those with more time, there are cabins to spend a night or two at Milford Sound. There are also numerous cruise boats operating tours around the Sound.
Milford Sound South Island, New Zealand www.milford-sound.co.nz