The past week (and a bit) have been awesome overall. I have had the chance to get out of Queenstown for a few days here and there, and have gotten to see a bit more of the surrounding areas. While Queenstown is amazing, sometimes it’s nice to escape the “bubble” that such places create.
The first escapade was a hike out in the mountains surrounding the area. I drove with a few friends out along Lake Wakatipu (which was one of the most gorgeous drives I have ever done), and out into the wilderness. We journeyed through Lord of The Rings country, and also places where Narnia was filmed. This country seems to be packed with various places like this where something was filmed.
After a little over an hour of driving we arrived at The Invincible Mine, a hike through the forest out to an abandoned gold mine. While the actual mine itself was collapsed, the remnants of the work areas were not. There were huge skeletons of old mining equipment to explore, not to mention the incredible views of the glacier across the valley. We explored the forest surrounding the area, drinking straight from the glacial river thundering down through the hills when we got thirsty from our hike (usually not a great idea to drink straight from a river, but I figured I had to at least try. I’m still alive so far, so I’m guessing the danger has passed). In total, we probably spent about three or four hours investigating the area for any sort of adventure while getting to know each other. We had a quick lunch of sushi and some fancy bread (I feel like whenever bread is sprinkled with sea salt, it instantly becomes somehow fancier?) before heading back down through the mountains.
After the hike, we spent a bit of time grabbing a drink in Glenorchy before driving back. This was my first taste of some of the hiking in the Queenstown/Otago area, and I’m pretty sure I’m already addicted. When I get a car at some point here, you can bet I’ll spend every spare moment exploring the mountains around here.
The next adventure happened yesterday, this being the reason I waited a bit to make another blog post and include it in here.
One of the surrounding cities, Arrowtown, is an old gold mining village that is probably one of the most small town picturesque places I have ever had the privilege of going. The town is nestled in amongst the surrounding hills, giving the impression that it’s a bit cut off from the busyness of Queenstown. With autumn in full swing, the hills were all different shades of red, yellow, orange, and green. The entire place almost looked fake, with a movie-like quality that I rarely encounter (which is odd to say considering everything in this country seems to have been featured in some film or another).
The Autumn Festival was going on while we were there, which just made the whole thing more enjoyable. The sheer small town-ness of it all was charming to say the least. There were scarecrow contests (the scarecrows being built by the children in the town), guided walks around town, and free entertainment for the public.
The entertainment for the town ended up being a bit more than I expected. A traveling juggler/comedian by the name of “Mullet Man” was the first act of the day. He and his admittedly impressive flowing mullet were hilarious. Near the end of the show he decided to pull a few audience members on stage, myself being one of them. What was our task on stage you may ask? To wear a wig/fake mullet and do a sexy dance for the crowd to spice up the act.
A few minutes of dancing and laughing later, and I’ve now been referred to as “the sexy man” multiple times in Arrowtown. I guess this is how reputations are made? I can’t say I’m unhappy about this as it at least makes my walks around town more interesting. My admirers are, admittedly, usually women in their 40s or 50s without much of a verbal filter (reminding me of my time working at a wine tasting bar), but at least it makes me laugh.
As for the rest of life in Queenstown so far, not too much has changed. While I am (for the most part) now sleeping with a roof over my head in the hostel, the job search is still on. The frustrations of the delays in hearing back from places are a bit high, but I’m confident I’ll find something. Adventures like the ones this past week keep my spirits high despite these work related frustrations. Queenstown is still being good to me as I continue to explore my options here and create communities of friends, locals and fellow backpackers alike. I’m keen to see what new things there are to explore in this place, and can’t wait to do so with the new friends I’ve made here.