Sunday, November 11, 2007


5th Sept 2007:

Queenstown is a relaxed little town which is situated in a valley and is surrounded by snow capped mountains. The town itself is quite picturesque with lots of little shops lining the streets. The place screams MONEY with every building expensively finished and every car resembling a big SUV.

Its pretty clear from the variety of shops what the main focus of the town is: adventure sports. The main street is lined with businesses which offer activities such as skiing, rafting, paraglading, parasailing and that which made the area famous: bungy jumping. Apparently the original NZ bungy jump location is nearby so perhaps its something which I should look into...

The people who work in the shops are, so far, locals and its giving me a great opportunity to try out my Kiwi accent. I dated a Kiwi girl in Sydney so felt ready to sound like a local. All you need to do is replace "e" with "i" and vice versa, except when either of the letters are repeated. So, for example, "weekend" is pronounced {week-ind} and "ten" is pronounced {tin}. It can lead to confusion for those who are caught unawares: a British couple on the shuttle bus from the airport reacted with horror when the driver mentioned that they could relax on the "sun deck"(!) (use the above translation guide to hear how it was pronounced ;).

Weather is good: blue skies and no wind. It is, however, very, very cold. Within minutes of standing outside the ears had frozen and the eyes were watering: just the winter weather I was looking for!

Another point to note about the place is that town planners seemed to have come to the inspired decision of banning all traffic lights and traffic seems to be non-existent. I could get use to this place!

I'm staying at the YHA Lakefront which is a ten minute walk from the town centre. The hostel, as the name suggest is situated next to a lake and has good facilities. Initially I thought it was lacking that most important of modern necessities: a tv(!) Thankfully that nightmare scenario was averted when I found a cosy tv room, though the choice of prime-time TV programs reminded me of Ireland in the '90s: "Friends" or "Coronation Street".

The staff at the hostel are quite helpful also and as they had promised on the phone a week ago they took care of the skiing booking within minutes of my arriving. All I need to do, it turns out, is be at the front door at 8AM and the rest of the ski prep and transport will be handled for me: convenient!