In my last post, I recapped the first four days of the Wallaby honeymoon Down Under, which we spent a) resting and recovering from the frenzied wedding week, b) staying at the best.honeymoon.cottage.eva., and c) hiking around New Zealand’s stunning Abel Tasman National Park. I left off with Mr. W and me boarding a plane to Queenstown.
I wish I could say it was a smooth journey, but let’s be real. It was an awful day. We had booked a short flight to Queenstown, with a 15-minute layover in Christchurch. Our flight to Christchurch was uneventful, but halfway through our second flight, a stewardess announced that due to bad weather conditions in Queenstown we’d be landing in a different city. Being uninformed Americans with very little grasp of New Zealand geography, we had no idea where we landed. We waited for over an hour for a coach bus, which transported us the remainder of the way to Queenstown. What was supposed to be a three-hour trip took 10 hours, and we ran out of tissues (and cold medicine) after hour two. We finally arrived in Queenstown around nine at night. It was Saturday night, so being party animals we dressed up in our finest and hit the town.
False. We scouted out a quick dinner—downtown Queenstown McDonald’s—scarfed down some chicken nugs, and were asleep in bed by 10.
We awoke Sunday morning still feeling under the weather. Outside, it was 0 degrees Celsius—when we packed for our trip, we were not prepared for freezing conditions. I packed, like, four bathing suits, flip-flops, and a bunch of sundresses. The rest of the trip, Mr. K got to see a lot of the one pair of jeans that I packed. Anyway. Since the outside temperature was frigid, we decided to skip some of the adventure activities we had planned—paragliding, zip-lining, maybe jet-boating—and bundle up in our cozy hotel room. And I napped like a professional. By mid-afternoon, though, we were starving, and we felt guilty spending our vacation holed up indoors. So we found lunch at highly acclaimed PJ’s Fish & Chips and spent the rest of the day wandering around downtown Queenstown. The city overlooks Lake Wakatipu, and from the edges of downtown you can take in sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Or, you can just take ridiculous photos:
Pretty much sums up our relationship / Personal photo
Lake Wakatipu, from our hotel / Personal photo
For dinner, I really wanted to eat Thai food. I realized we were in closer proximity to Thailand than I’ve ever been, so Thai food must be bomb down undah. My cravings were satisfied at Tham Nak Thai, a cozy little restaurant in the heart of Queenstown. (We were attracted by the buy-one-entree, get-one-free deal.) Not only was the curry ah-mazing, but they served the rice in butterfly shapes. How can I do this at home?!
Unbeatable red curry and butterfly rice at Tham Nak Thai in Queenstown / Personal photo
A Sunday date night wouldn’t be complete without dinner and a movie, so we purchased two tickets to Argo and cozied up in a small movie theater a couple blocks from our hotel. The movie was great, and it was so relaxing to walk home to our hotel that night. As a Houston resident, I spend two-plus hours a day commuting in traffic to and from work, and I can’t tell you bees how much of a relief it was to be able to walk everywhere in Queenstown. Loved it.
The next day, the weather warmed up significantly and we were ready to do some risky business. Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, after all. We signed ourselves up for white-water rafting down the Kawarau River. We met with the other rafters at the rafting company’s office downtown, and we were transported by school bus to a “base,” where we slipped into bathing suits, dry suits, and life vests. We then piled onto another school bus, and the driver navigated down Skipper’s Canyon Road, one of the 10 most dangerous roads in the world. (Apparently rental car companies prohibit you from driving rental cars down this road. It’s that legit.)
Photo by Alice Hurkett / Image via Panoramio
Feeling nauseous from the crazy drive down to the rafting launch point, I walked a little unsteadily off the bus. We were given a safety briefing and taught how to paddle like pros. We then climbed onto our rafts. The rafting excursion actually lasted a couple hours, and we went over some really crazy rapids. I was silently praying that the boat wouldn’t capsize, because in spite of our dry suits the water was absolutely freezing. I managed to hold on, but Mr. Wallaby was bounced out of the raft when we went over the steepest incline. He loved it; I laughed at him for a long time. I have this vivid memory of him flying five feet into the air, right before a huge slug of water hit me in the face and I couldn’t see anything.
The rafting company wanted us to fork over $40 for some cheesy photos of us on the raft, so instead we re-enacted the adventure. Here’s Mr. Wallaby about to encounter a ginormous rapid:
And here are the Wallabies post-rafting, and after enjoying a post-rafting beer with some Aussies and Kiwis:
We followed up the exhilarating rafting trip with an exhilarating steak dinner. Our raft guide, Matt, had recommended a South African bar and grill, Flame, so we decided to have a taste of South African food. I enjoyed a glass of local wine (I wish I remember the name of the vineyard! I’m kicking myself for not writing the name down and stocking up while I was there), and Mr. W ordered an African Sunset cocktail. Who wears the pants in this relationship? (I can’t even reveal to you Mr. W’s regular cocktail of choice, as he would never forgive me. Sorry, Mr. W! 😉 ) We savored the drinks with flame-grilled sirloin with a Peri-Peri sauce (a Mozambique specialty), and it was a meal to remember. The steaks were amazing.
On the walk back to our hotel, we passed Patagonia Chocolates. You probably know by now that Mr. W and I have some biiiig sweet teeth. We love dessert. We couldn’t resist following up our amazing steaks with amazing chocolate. Mr. W ordered chocolate ice cream, and I had a dark chocolate hot chocolate with lavender essence. It was the perfect way to end the day. The chocolate was this good:
For our last day in Queenstown, we had booked a tour of Milford Sound in advance. Milford Sound is a gorgeous fjord in Fjordland National Park, and it’s simply stunning. Rudyard Kipling called it the eighth Wonder of the World. Unfortunately, it’s a good five hours’ drive from Queenstown. We decided during our honeymoon planning that we’d leave that drive up the professionals, so we booked a bus tour so we could sit back and enjoy the views. We traveled in a glass-roofed tour bus, and that was half the experience.
Our glass-roofed tour bus / Personal photo
The bus made a lot of stops along the way, both to break up the loooong drive and to give us some premium photo-ops.
On the way to Milford Sound, we also stopped by a mountain stream that is so clean that you can drink from it. And there’s a myth that if you drink from the stream, you’ll live to be 102. So Mr. W refilled our Sprite bottle with magic spring water, and we drank up.
Mr. W scooping up some magic water / Personal photo
We finally arrived in Milford Sound and boarded our cruise boat. We embarked on a two-hour cruise of Milford Sound, complete with penguins, waterfalls, and cheesy commentary over the boat’s intercom system.
Our cruise boat / Personal photo
On board the boat / Personal photo
Stirling Falls, Milford Sound / Personal photo
The waterfall reminded me so much of the scenery from the movie Up—I couldn’t get it out of my head:
Love that movie. / Image via IMDB
Instead of boarding the bus on the way back from Milford Sound to Queenstown, Mr. W rode in a helicopter for a scenic tour of the sound and the surrounding mountains. His helicopter landed on top of a glacier, where the passengers climbed out for a few minutes to take in the stunning views. (I passed on the helicopter ride because I have hearing problems and didn’t want to risk hurting my ears from the loud ride.) It’s OK that I didn’t go, though—it gave Mr. W a chance to look like a badass:
Ballin’ / Personal photo
Our Milford Sound day trip was our final day in Queenstown, so when we got back to our hotel around nine that night, Mr. W and I packed up all of our stuff for our flight the next morning. Up next: Sydney!