South Island - Mt Cook

Trip Start Sep 04, 2007
1
35
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Trip End May 28, 2008


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Sunday, March 2, 2008

After the Routeburn I spent another day in Queenstown to recover. In fact I decided to sample one of the local adrenalin activities.... the Canyon Swing. I had spoken to a few people who had already done it and they all seemed to enjoyed it more than the bungy jumps.

I joined a group of 6 people and we were all strapped into harnesses. The guys who work there asked who was going to go first and nobody volunteered, but eventually I gave in and headed to the edge of the platform to be attached to the wires. The platform was 109m above the Shotover Canyon and the crew certainly liked to wind me up by pretending to push me off the edge, or asking if anybody would miss me if I never came back! The view from the edge of the platform was impressive, but I was a bit nervous! I decided to jump feet first in the "pin drop" position, which has a reputation for having the best "ground rush" (and being particularly scary). After a few moments on the edge I decided to jump.... 60m freefall down the side of a canyon followed by a smooth transition into a 200m arc swing. I think my heart was in my mouth as I was falling, but after a few seconds I was flying through the canyon on the biggest swing I have ever seen. It was good fun and I guess a sense of achievement for jumping off the ledge, but I wouldn't do it again!

After Queenstown I got back on the Stray Bus and headed over to Aoraki/Mount National Park. I staying in Mt Cook village near to the famous Hermitage hotel. On the way into the National Park we stopped at a viewpoint on Lake Pukaki. Whilst we were there a very nice Bristol car turned up and the owner started to take a few photos of it. I got talking to him and it turns out he lives in Bristol too, and last year had taken the car to Bariloche in Argentina.

The weather when I arrived at the park was great so I headed out on the Hooker Valley walk to get closer to the Hooker Glacier and Mt Cook. The weather got progressively worse but it was a great walk. The next day was wetter but I headed out on a walk up to Sealy Tarns and Kea Point. The rain meant that I didn't see as much as I would like to have seen, but it was a good walk.

I then headed over to Christchurch, which is perhaps the most English of NZ's cities. Many of the roads have names like Cambridge Terrace, Hereford Street and even a Lichfield Street (which surprisingly is a popular nightspot). You can even go punting on the river Avon!

I met up with a few friends for Chinese New Year celebrations, complete with music, dancing and good street food. The highlight of the evening for me was when the official mascots of the Beijing Olympics turned up and started play-fighting with each other, whilst a few chaperons failed to keep them under control. The next day was spent walking around the city and enjoying the fine weather. The city museum was well worth a visit, especially the Antarctica exhibition.
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