Getting wet on the Shotover Jet

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
Lake Gunn (back to DOC and no running water)

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, October 30, 2010

We woke up early and totally clear headed, I made us some bacon and egg butbuts and we set off. The friendly campsite owner waved us off and we wished him all the best with his new business. It was a truly gorgeous day again with not a cloud in the sky. We headed down the road in the direction that the Shotover Jet buses seem to head and before long drove over the bridge over the canyons that the jet boat uses. We grabbed our newly acquired Escape campervan book (we got this from the people I met the other night. Escape is a rival company to Wicked but has a really good book with different vouchers to the ones we had. The one we particularly liked was the 2 for 1 Milford Sound Cruises but you had to produce evidence that you had an escape van. Also included though was a voucher for the Shotover Jet, NZ's and self proclaimed best jet boating experience. We simply hadn’t managed to find a Shotover Jet voucher anywhere but as everybody we know who has been to New Zealand did the Shotover and said it was great we had already decided we were doing it. We booked onto the next boat, donned the waterproofs and lifejackets that are provided and got on board.

We decided to risk the camera (standby camera isn’t working after Lady E chucked it in the river in Bukit Luwang whilst ultimate tubing) as we assumed we wouldn’t get too wet just a little bit of spray perhaps. The boat ride started and we were soon squealing like girls as were the rest of the boat (who were all girls). We then entered the canyons which in some places were quite narrow and it felt like the boat was going to crash. With the jet mechanism (similar to a jet ski) the back end of the boat just seemed to flip at the last minute. We then started with the 360 degree spins which were a bit mental, you just seemed to lose gravity and before you knew which direction you were facing you were off again. After the first spin I looked at Lady E who was sat on the seat next to the side of the boat who had water dripping down her face, whilst trying not to laugh too much I managed to dry the camera again. Now after so long free camping the one thing the lady wanted to do at the campsite was wash and straighten her hair. On the morning of another prolonged free camp period her hair was soaking and was going to go curly again.

The rest of the boat trip was pretty cool with lots of spins and near misses of rocks. I’m not sure how long it lasted for it seemed to go so quickly and before we knew it, it was over. We walked back up to the office and saw the pictures and DVD of the journey. Our voucher entitled us to a single hard copy of a photo rrp $20. We can’t really do much with it to be honest so next time we post something home we will probably throw it in the box, still it was free and the woman didn’t seem too impressed that we refused to pay for anything else.

We headed back into Queenstown and updated the blog as quickly as we could before setting off on a lakeside drive of Lake Wakatipu to a place called 'Paradise’ a very nice name for a place. The drive probably should have taken about 50 minutes but seemed to take us about one and a half hours as we just had to stop at every lookout and island. It was quite breathtaking scenery really (you get the idea from the photo’s but as everywhere else in New Zealand the landscape is often so Epic you just can’t quite get any photographs which can give you a sense of scale. Paradise itself is rubbish but the road to Paradise is amazing. A must do on a sunny day I think. Also the last book the Lady read was a horror novel called Pig Island, and there in the middle of the lake was indeed Pig Island. Lady E edit – Quite simply this road was perhaps the best road I have ever driven. Andrew Edit – It would have been nice then if you would have driven some of it. Erica edit – Ouch!

We drove back to Queenstown and grabbed a bit of lunch before starting yet more driving to get out to the Kawarau Gorge. This took us past the original bungy jump over Kawarau river where bungy jumping originated. Oddly I have done a bungy jump before (at a music festival in Hungary of all places). It didn’t look too scary in comparison to the newer and much, much bigger bungies and bungy swings elsewhere in Queenstown. It was still 100 though and Erica thought after our skydive it was a hundred pound that didn’t need spending. We still have a lot of big ticket items to go in New Zealand all of which seem to cost a bloody fortune and sadly in comparison to the other things that we want to do a bungy jump comes lower down the list.

We drove through the gorge stopping to review the scenery, as always we are advised (this time by Rorie) that a famous scene from Lord of the Rings was filmed here. I’m not sure if we have mentioned but we haven’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings films but the number of tours and sights is quite frankly ludicrous. We have even met people so passionate about the films they only come to NZ to see locations. We even had one guy come over to us put his hand over his mouth and say "I haven’t told you this because it is top secret so don’t mention it to anyone", we assumed that he may have been SAS or SBS (New Zealand equivalents), “they are remaking Hobbitan (i think that is what he said) for another film, it is under construction right now if you can find it”. It was so bizarre we were just looking at each other trying not to laugh, “I haven’t told you that but you know what I have pictures, but those I definitely can’t show you as I have signed a confidentiality agreement and if you see them the film makers will definitely find out it was me and come after me”. Just weird but we are now intrigued and have to watch it.

Anyway this road also took in another place we fancied going to, the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheesery. This is again wine country but after feeling so guilty in the Hunter Valley we haven’t really wanted to go to another. This one however has a cave where the wine is kept and the few pictures we have seen looked magical. As we pulled in though a wedding was underway and pretty much everyone at the wedding including the Bride and Groom stopped to look as the gimp pulled up, we didn’t want to make a scene so shot straight off.

We then started our final long drive of the day to get toward Te Anua the gateway to the Milford Sound an area we have heard so much about. The drive was again spectacular but fairly long, we had left Queenstown, which we had loved, but without me doing any of the Mountain Biking I wanted to do. Whilst Erica makes me jump out of planes and do cable cars and lots of things that quite frankly I expect to hate, she point blankly refused on several occasions to go mountain biking, saying “I don’t want too”, spoilt brat! Erica edit – I was only trying to save money and I did say that I would wait for him happily in the van if he wanted to do it.  I’ve agreed to go in South America.

When we arrived at Te Anau we filled up again with fuel at the petrol station. The man on the next pump shouted “G’Day, where are you from mate”, I told him we’re from Manchester in the UK and he asked, “City or United”, “United” to which he stopped his fuel pump and came over shaking my hand and hugging me, “Alex Ferguson is a legend”. I told him to enjoy his evening as the all blacks were playing Australia he said “It will be a quiet one, it always is around here”. This is quite amusing especially if you know how remote and small Te Anua is. We then stocked up the esky for the first time in days at the supermarket.

We started the Milford sound drive but pulled up next to Te Anua lake, the second largest lake in NZ and the largest on the South Island, at a DOC site, knowing it was late enough to be warden free. The campsite was stunning perched on the edge of the lake with yet more snow capped mountains. We had a clearance pie (about 40p) instead of cooking as the sand flies and mosquitos were horrific. While Erica sat in the van quaffing white wine I braved the flies and mozzies and watched the sun set behind the mountains, it was magical. Not quite as nice as it looks on the photo’s as I had sand flies and mosquitos all over my face, hands and feet biting the hell out of me. I guess it probably looked as if I had some kind of aura as I probably had a black outline about 10cm thick.

We watched another of Chris and Sarah’s films “The Holiday” which was a good old chick flick and easy to watch. It was about 11:30 by this time and Erica couldn’t sleep because the midgies and mozzies were getting into the van somehow so the executioner (as I call her) was in full blown murder mode almost redecorating the roof of the van with squashed mozzies.  Erica edit – Strictly speaking  as we are in a National Park and all the animals are protected I shouldn’t really be killing any living creature even in the confines of the van but I have to make an exception in the case of those wretched beasts otherwise no doubt dinner would be on me tonight, literally.
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