Queenstown Travel Guide
Today is the official day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere but we can't seem to shake our powder lust.
While we thought we still weren't quite rich enough for heli-skiing, a recent Age review of heli-skiing down near Queenstown in New Zealand caught our eye, we've discovered you can hit the adventurous slopes for less than we thought.
The whole idea of a helicopter dropping us into a tricky spot in the mountains so we can throw ourselves down some untouched snow is not only decadent, but pretty tempting, although our ski skills probably need some refreshing first.
We can't help but love the bold-colored T-shirts of superstar kids group The Wiggles but we didn't expect to find them arguing over trademarks with a New Zealand tourist attraction. The problem is that both parties are keen on talking about their "big red boats".
The Kiwi side of the argument belongs to the Shotover Jet people in tourist capital Queenstown. They take tourists for thrilling canyon rides in their "big red boat" and that's why they'd tried to trademark the brand. They ran into the Wiggles trying to do the same thing.
Fortunately it looks like it'll all be settled peacefully, because one of the managers of Ngai Tahu Tourism, who operate the Shotover Jet, has a two-year-old who's a big Wiggles fan. We're tipping that Shotover should paint their jet boats a different color and go for "big blue boat" instead.
· Wiggles Take On Tourism Company Over Big Red Boats [The Age]
· Shotover Jet [Official Site]
· Queenstown Travel Guide [Jaunted]
We've been thinking lately that bungee jumping is becoming an adventure sport of yesterday--and we just figured out why. Tourists have been leaping off tall things for an elastic adrenaline rush for 20 years now!
This month is the anniversary of the first paying customers at the Kawarau Bridge bungee jump in Queenstown, New Zealand. The two Kiwis who started it are now multi-millionaires and have had two million customers throw themselves off bridges.
If bungee jumping has turned 20, and we clearly remember when it started, then that makes us older than we thought. Heck, feeling old is enough to make someone want to jump off a bridge. Queenstown, here we come.
[Photo: Foraggio Fotographic]
Down in New Zealand the Queenstown Winter Festival is on again, with ten days of craziness to mark the start of the winter ski season in the southern hemisphere.
Our favorite part of the festival is Mountain Mayhem day on Saturday. All kinds of weird stuff happens here, including the Dash for Cash which involves a ski race and an obstacle course in pursuit of a $500 prize.
But the best part of the day is the Suitcase Race, in which contestants toboggan down the mountain on suitcases. The rules say you should bring your own suitcase, although they apparently do have a few spares if, say, you're traveling with a lightweight backpack that might not make it down the mountain.
Feel like taking a gentle, relaxing swing? Then the Shotover Canyon Swing near Queenstown, New Zealand, is probably not for you.
The name itself is fantastic--the Swing is above the Shotover River--and the experience sounds pretty amazing too. After you jump off a platform built into the edge of a cliff above the river:
You'll have a pure free fall of 200 feet into the canyon before the ropes smoothly pendulum you to a giant swing arc of 650 feet at 95 mph. The free fall/swing journey is so smooth you'll barely notice when you've finished free falling and begun your swing. After a number of swings across the canyon we'll winch you swiftly back up to the platform.
The Shotover Canyon Swing gang offer ten options for your jump style, including forwards, backwards, doing a flip, the cutaway, pin drop and the intriguing Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood jump. Each comes with a scariness rating to choose the jump that's right for you, but we'd go Gimp Boy for the name alone.
Getting cash while you're on a budget RTW trip isn't always easy, and every bank tries to slap on a few extras overseas withdrawal fees when you're not looking. But last week in Queenstown, New Zealand, a cash machine started giving backpackers double the money they were asking for.
The big bonus is that nobody's gonna ask them for the money back. A Kiwibank cash machine was incorrectly stocked, with $20 bills being placed in the $10 bill dispenser. Smart backpackers got the word around to their mates and for about six hours, long queues of happy travelers withdrew double their money. The bank says it made a mistake and won't be trying to reclaim the money. Now that's a holiday bonus.
If you're a thick sweater and gloves fan and wish that the northern hemisphere winter wasn't coming to an end, you'll be happy to hear that the hype for New Zealand's Lindauer Queenstown Winter Festival is just beginning. The week-long party takes place from June 22 to July 1 with a combination of ski and snowboard shows, jazz nights and pop and rock fests, all held in and around Queenstown in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island.
With four large skifields located near Queenstown, it's the obvious part of New Zealand to celebrate the winter in. Our only gripe is with the heavy sponsor marketing, with sponsorship deals making events sound like one big advertisement: it might be a day full of the best snowboard tricks ever, but do they have to call it the "SkiDealsNZ.com Big Air" competition? Yet at the same time, locals are whinging that half of Queenstown's businesses get no financial benefit from the Winter Festival at all.
· Festival Chief: Glass is Half Full [Scene NZ]
· Queenstown Girls Like To Watch [HotelChatter]