I had left off in Fox Glacier, New Zealand, a very small town that lives solely on tourism. Since there is a beautiful glacier, it seems like a pretty foolproof plan for now.
Saturday we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning that was cold, yet not too bitterly so. After a yummy breakfast of oatmeal, cereals, and coffee, we split off into our different groups. Some of us went on a bus ride to the base of the glacier, others on a hike through the glaciers to an awaiting helicopter, and others of us on a helicopter ride to the top where you would hike around for a little while.
I chose the helicopter and hike option since it was more affordable than the long hike to the helicopter option. In the original planning for this trip, I was going to do just the hike on the glacier, but a month before the tourism company had to stop offering that hike due to the fact the glacier was melting and the bottom of the glacier where everyone hiked had fallen off. Talk about a risky hike…
Anyways, it was a STUNNING ride and the views were unbelievable. It was so hard to think that there was a river of ice that was below me as I walked along on the freshly fallen snow.
Since we were the first helicopter of the day, this snow covering the glacier had been untouched by humans and the beautiful blanket covered this powerful river of ice.
After the helicopter ride I had about 2 hours to kill in this 4 shop town before our bus left to drive to Queenstown. Walking around and looking at every single thing in the 4 shops only lasted 30 minutes, so afterwards I decided to go on a nice stroll down the same path we saw the glow worms and I had run the day before. It was a perfect processing walk to think about everything I had done and experienced since being in this wonderful country. As my processing came to a close, we reboarded the bus for another STUNNING drive!
Yesterday’s ride was full of snowcapped mountains and plains, and today’s views of choice were the scenes of the snowcapped mountains reflected in beautiful clear blue lakes and streams.
Every single day my breath was taken away by the scenery in New Zealand.
I think there is something in this crystal blue water, mostly fed by glaciers, that carves out the rock dust to form the braided rivers, fills the deep crater lakes, and makes the air magical in New Zealand.
In reality, this crystal blue glacier melt actually does cause two of the above three things, you choose which ones.
As the bus crept down the side of the mountain, Queenstown in view, a silence crept over the bus. Whether this was an awe of the beauty, a realization of what crazy adventure sports we were to do over the next two days, a general exhaustion, or just silent contemplation, it was welcome.
As our song played quietly in the background, I began to tear. Everything was so wonderful and perfect in this moment, all I could do was pray and pinch myself, somehow proving that this was real. I was here.
After checking in to our lodge, a few friends and I went out to grab groceries and cook our dinner. Like usual for this trip, I finished my night with a run and hanging out with some fun Canadians, a Brit, and an American. It was fun to learn some Kiwi (New Zealander) games before calling it quits for the night! After all, I was skydiving the next morning!!!
Awaking on a chilly Queenstown morning, my first thought was, “hey, you are falling out of a plane today, are you crazy?!”
Yes, yes, I am. Eating another yummy breakfast my fellow travelers and I discussed the craziness we were going to be doing that day, for me, it was skydiving, for others bungy jumping, paragliding, hangliding, whitewater rafting, etc. I mean, they don’t call Queenstown the adventure capital for nothing!!
Walking some of my nerves out, I finally made it to check in with my skydive. I filled out all the correct paperwork, sat through the briefing, took the shuttle ride over to the drop zone, watched other skydivers land, waited my three hours, got up all my courage, met my tandem master Mika, got strapped up with Mika, was climbing into the plane… AND they told me they had to cancel the jump because the winds just changed…
It was quite saddening because I had finally gotten to a mental place that I was okay to jump out of an airplane from 15,000 feet above, and then I couldn’t.
Instead, I was able to move around my schedule and take on Middle Earth instead! On horseback no doubt!
If you have never ridden a horse, start with that, it is such a cool connection to another being and the earth and gives you a whole new perspective on the world.
I am a (semi) experienced rider so I did a longer, much faster paced ride. We cantered through Middle Earth and Paradise which basically was the best thing ever!!!
For starters, I had never cantered before, and after my horse, Frodo and I reached an understanding that he could NOT buck me off no matter how much he tried, and believe me, he tried a lot, we had fun. I overcame my fear of being thrown and instead focused on the feel of the horse below me and the scenery.
There was nothing more beautiful than cantering through the braided rivers on top of this beautiful white, spotted being!
Arriving back at the lodge, my roommates were already there and after a 30 minute debrief of our days over drinks, we gussied ourselves up and got ready to hit the town!!!
During the day, Queenstown in known for its adventure capital status, but at night it is known for its nightlife!!
Starting with a yummy pizza dinner a cute little place called Winnies, we all went over our days and got to know each other so much better. All of my fellow travelers truly were amazing people!
When our tummies were full of drinks and pizza, we moved to the Ice Bar! Here we donned fuzzy coats, Ugg Boots, and were served from the ice bar drinks in ice glasses! Even the seats and tables were ice! It was really cool!! And really cold!!!!
After the ice bar, we determined dancing and a fire needed to be a thing, so we found a bar that had a DJ and a fire and started the party!!!! I am a huge, huge, huge fan of dancing and once the music got good, I couldn’t bear to leave. My roommate, “older sister,” seat mate, and friend Lynn and I couldn’t stop! It was so much fun to dance with her! Around 2am, I determined I should probably head to bed.
And that concluded my fourth night in New Zealand!
Come back on Friday for Days 5 and 6: a second attempt of skydiving, hiking, running, a boat cruise, and my stay in a gold mining town!