New Zealand entered in my bucket list when my friend Aginesh, had visited it, many years back. After seeing his pictures I was totally blown away by the sheer beauty of this country. That’s when I decided to visit this place and not to forget my passion for jumps, the Bungee which was originated in New Zealand and they are the pioneers in it. The first ever organised commercial bungy jumping began with the New Zealander, AJ Hackett and my to do list definitely had the Bungy in NZ.
As I had mentioned in my earlier post, I had flown to Sydney, Australia first and after spending a day there, myself and mom left to New Zealand. We reached Queenstown on a Monday evening and it welcomed us with showers. We checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn by 8pm and the first set of people whom I spoke with was my NNTO members (thanks to Balaaa). Oh I did really miss them and my new office inauguration. I spoke with each one of them and did have a virtual overview of what was happening there but then they kept the rest for me to return back and explore myself, otherwise what’s the fun say… !
After getting fresh, we relaxed ourselves in our cozy room as it was pretty cold with around 8 deg C outside. The next day morning we were all set to visit the Milford Sound. We finished our breakfast early in the morning and the moment I checked out of my balcony, I was speechless to see the first view outside. When we came in the previous night, it was raining and dark, and we had not got the chance to see what was in front of us. To tell all my readers, the Holiday Inn in Queenstown is located just in front of the Wakatipu lake and the view that you get to see from here is just mesmerizing. The only song that popped up my mind at this point of time was “Yeh Haseen Wadiyan” from the Hindi movie “Roja”. Oh I so much love this song and was in love with this place even more. I could not stop humming this song again and again.
We came to the reception area as our cab was supposed to pick us by 7am and drop us to the Bus stop from where we had to hop in the Southern Discoveries Bus (popularly known as the Red Bus). We waited in the bus stand for few minutes before boarding the bus and till then were just admiring the beauty all around. New Zealand is so naturally beautiful and the best part is that people around, do everything to just maintain this beauty. I had not seen any buildings or houses that goes above 2-3 floors so far and then got to know that the government has certain rules & regulations and restricts people to build taller constructions as it spoils the beauty of the place. What a great thought !! After clicking few shots we started our journey to Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is New Zealand’s one of the most spectacular natural wonder. It has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey too. It lies deep inside the Fiordland National Park with it’s magical combination of mountain peaks, dark waters and rocky valleys. You have to see it to believe that this is the most stunning natural attraction of the place. Now when we left in the morning, the climate was a bit cloudy and by the time we reached the Mirror Lakes, it had dark clouds all over the place.
With in no time it started snowing and wow….this was such a beautiful moment. To our luck there was some vehicle breakdown ahead and we were struck in a traffic jam before entering the 1.2 km Homer Tunnel.
Taking due advantage of the situation we just got down to experience the snowfall and take some pics. After a while when it started becoming really cold, we got ourselves inside and the bus started to move. The winding mountain road, is very prone to avalanches and closures during the winter half of the year. Our driver and who was also the guide was a pro in multitasking and was educating us really well about the place at regular intervals.
We reached at the Cruise location at around 1pm and departed for our 2.5 hour cruise ride. By then it was raining heavily as we cruised away from the waters to experience the scenic destination. I started remembering the pictures that my friend had shared then with me and here I was just witnessing the same. It was totally a breath taking moment for us. After sometime when the showers reduced we saw a rainbow, in fact two of them over the waters and in front of the mountains. We finished munching our lunch in the Cruise itself.
We saw few seals too, on the way. There are lot of waterfalls that you would see in the entire cruise ride. The specialty of this Cruise ride is that they really get close to the 151-meter (495 ft) Stirling Falls and then switch off the engine. Oh my god, in that cold climate with the freezing water coming down from such height, its one of its kind of an experience, just amazing. There are Fiordland penguins and dolphins also that you can witness if you are lucky enough and you can always visit the underwater observatory too with an additional ticket. By the time we finished our cruise ride it was bright sunny. We literally experienced four seasons in one single day…wow. The drive in our coach was no less than magic as the coach had a glass roof and you just get the amazing views all the time surrounding around you. We reached back to our hotel at around 7.30 pm after a such a captivating day with the nature.
The next day we got up a little late as I had booked our lunch at the Queenstown Skyline gondola. We left at around 11am because this was in city center which was around 5-10 mins drive from the hotel. We reached the location and scanned our tickets for the Skyline Gondola ride. These are basically cable carts that takes you 450m above the Queenstown showcasing the most incredible panoramic views. This place is a must visit if you guys visit Queenstown.
After filling our appetite for taking pics and posing for the camera, we left for the restaurant down. Now before I could have my lunch, I had to finish my Bungy jump. There are two Bungy’s in New Zealand which I wanted to do it. One is the AJ Hackett’s Ledge Bungy, that is at the Queenstown Skyline which is 47m and the other one is the Nevis Bungy which is 134m. Now the Nevis Bungy has some weight restrictions starting with minimum of 45kgs where as the other one has no weight restrictions to it. I knew about this fact from the time I was planning my trip to New Zealand as my concern was with my weight. I have always been underweight from the time I was a kid. So before leaving I did try eating Jalebi’s soaked in milk too but somehow it had come only till 44 from 43.5. Phew…it is so difficult to put on weight especially, me !!! So, I knew very well that I would be doing the Ledge Bungy. Now, in the Nevis Bungy, they harness your leg and when you drop, the only position you fall is upside down. Whereas, the AJ Hackett’s Ledge Bungy on the other hand is a little crazy, as you are harnessed to the waist and when you fall the probability of you tilting towards any side is more. So, I felt it as a little scary. I went near the ledge to get myself harnessed. The guys over there were talking to me while harnessing so that i become a bit more comfortable. Then the place from where you leap was just right there. The guy over there, Nick asked me whether I want to be pushed or I would jump myself. I was like nope, I don’t want you to push me. He told me to first have a look down. The moment I saw it, I was like, how am i going to fall. I mean your brain stops working as it does not understand. It cannot instruct you to fall when there is nothing down. Now, I prepared myself and Nick agreed to give me a countdown. And on your mark, 4, 3, 2 and there I just took a leap without knowing where I will fall. I fell straight and then side ways and then upside down and finally in a swinging position. This stuff came with a lot of adrenaline rush and one more activity from my to do list had got striked off.
They gave a lot of take away’s after my jump and I was a happy soul. I went back to the restaurant and narrated the whole stuff to mom. Then we went on having our lunch while glancing the beautiful skyline of Queenstown, did some shopping after lunch and by the time we got back to our hotel it was around 5pm.
The next day activity was a surprise to my mom. It was a 30 min helicopter ride at the Alpines. Now when I booked for this event, it didn’t register my head that there is an Alpine landing also which depends on the pilot’s choice. Me and mom got ready for this as our helicopter ride was scheduled at 3.30 pm and they were suppose to come and pick us up at 3. It took us 15 mins to reach the airport. After reaching the airport, our pilot gave us few instructions and we were all set to board the helicopter. The pilot switched on the chopper engine and the blades started moving fast. As it started picking up it’s speed, we boarded the chopper and wore our security belts and the ear phones. The pilot closed our doors, grabbed his seat and the helicopter took off. The very next moment we were in the air and the pilot took us against the backdrop of the Remarkables mountain range and the Southern Alps. Then we could see snowy mountain peaks in front of us when the speed of the helicopter started reducing. For a moment it didn’t flash me at all that this was the main part of our ride – The Alpine landing. Yes, the pilot would land somewhere on the snowy mountains for 10 mins where we can come out and experience the breath taking view from the top. I was like damn, how can i forget this one. Once the Helicopter landed, mum remained seated in the chopper itself and I was more than happy to get down and take pics. It was absolutely mind blowing. I am not sure how 10 mins went of there. Then I got back to the chopper. And the pilot took us back again to tour over the beautiful Queenstown. After 30 mins of ride, we landed back to The Helicopter Line Base, Lucas Place. Our first time in a helicopter was unforgettable and the cherry on the cake was the landing on top of a snow capped mountain !!!
Then my last day in New Zealand had the Nevis swing activity to be done. I had booked the 10 am slot and was scheduled to be at the pick up point by 9.30. I finished my breakfast and left the hotel as mom decided to stay back in the hotel. The Nevis swing is located at the destination Nevis, a 45 mins drive from the downtown Queenstown. A huge bus which had a front of a truck (looked more like a truck than a bus…just to give it a rough look) came to pick us up and left for the destination. I reached there by almost 11 am and the crew started giving us the instructions. Now this one’s the most famous Swing in the world and the biggest one too. It’s big, its bad and it’s loud. You have options of doing this alone, tandem with a friend, forward, backward or upside down. I selected doing this alone and forward. Once you are dropped at the top from 120 meter above the Nevis valley, you complete a 300 meter arc and trust me once you do it you always feel like doing it one more time. Once I was harnessed and took the position on the swing, the instructor asked me whether I want a countdown or a surprise and I said a countdown. He started the countdown and there I went dropping from such a height, making a huge arc from this end to the other. At one point I felt like I was about to hit the opposite mountain. It was just awesome. The moment you drop is the most exciting part of the swing and tell you something, never close your eyes while doing it as you may just not enjoy it as you do it, eyes wide open. I came back to the Nevis center to collect my take away’s and got inside the bus. The bus drops you back to the downtown. I went to the near by shops to do some shopping and ended up in the hotel by lunch time. Mom was waiting for me to come and tell her the whole experience. Even she was excited about the whole thing.
My vacation in New Zealand had come to an end as I had my flight next day back to Sydney. This was one of my best trips so far that was full of adventure activities and excitement.