Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The good, the bad and the bumpy

There have been some truly excellent ideas born in Queenstown and when Shotover Jet and Nomad Safaris announced they were joining forces to create a jet boat /4WD combo this was definitely a good idea. Two highly professional adventure companies teamed together to create the package ‘Essential Queenstown’, and when they offered me the chance to sample this new activity, of course I jumped at the chance!
What’s also a good idea in Queenstown is to hit the town with your workmates. There’s nothing like a good night out scouring bars in search of fun and trying to prove that it’s not all about hard work.

What’s bad, however, is waking up the next day and remembering that you let a person with a passion for Facebook film you ‘shake your booty better than Beyonce’ (several times just to prove a point). What’s slightly worse is that in spite of the invisible hammer banging on your head, you also remember that you booked yourself on an Essential Queenstown trip.
And so it was with dark sunglasses and aching hips that I turned up to meet my fresh faced friend Anna at the Shotover Jet check in point. A short ride out of town, we reached the banks of the river. It was a balmy day and the sun beat down and sparkled upon the ripples of the fast flowing water. A vast expanse of turquoise stretched and flowed through the mouth of a large canyon creating a breathtaking view.

All passengers were provided with long black splash coats that came in one size fits all (including elephants) and chunky red lifejackets that made looking cool completely impossible. Once in the boat, we were given a quick lesson in ‘how not to fall into the water’ and then we were off.
Bumping across the water, we laughed out loud as our bums bounced off the padded seats. Zooming through the canyon, Anna turned to me with a worried look.

“Oo, I’m a bit scared!” She announced.
What a wimp, I thought to myself.

“Scared?” I replied confidently. “Scared of wha….aaaaaaaa.”

A scream of fear shot from my lungs as I watched the boat lurch towards the towering canyon walls and miss by an inch. The driver turned around, obviously used to a boat full of wailing banshees and gave us a quick smirk.

The rest of the ride went like this: stunning scenery, funny bumpy ride, scary wall, scary wall far too close, screams, funny bumpy ride, 360 spin, screams, why ‘eight’ gin and tonics?

After escaping from the boat with half my hair matted to my face, we were met by a friendly driver in a big jeep who drove us out to Arrowtown to begin the second part of the trip.
This included several exciting crossings through the crystal clear waters of the Arrow River as we watched large trout swim past the wheels. We drove across steep ridges that looked down into lush valley whilst the driver told us tales about the gold mining era and then stopped off for some hot tea and home-make cake.

After this refreshing break, we went down to the river for a spot of gold panning. I was extremely proud to be the finder of the biggest piece of gold and posed for a picture with my precious nugget. Admittedly, the ‘nugget’ could have passed for a mere flake of dandruff but that wasn’t the sort of detail I needed to share with those not present!
On the ride back, our guide pointed out the places where Lord of the Rings had been filmed and although I’m not the most excitable, sword bearing fan, I did find what he told us quite fascinating.

Towards the end of the trip, I realized that Anna had been rather quiet. When I turned around I found her clutching her chest as we bumped up and down across huge rocks.

“Oh no, are you OK?” I asked, trying not to laugh.

“Hmm, it’s a bit bumpy in the back!” She said with a frown.

So there it is, Essential Queenstown. It’s a good trip, bad with a hangover and very bumpy. My words of advice: avoid G & T’s the night before and for girls in particular, wear a sports bra!

This trip can be booked at both the YHA Queenstown Central and YHA Queenstown Lakefront. Check out the websites: or

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