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Adventures in the Adventure Capital of the World

Queenstown Day 1

sunny 18 °C

We arrived in Queenstown on Thursday evening, and I’m not sure why I thought Queenstown would be much like Christchurch, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The town’s setting is simply priceless, with the milky blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, and the rugged, snow-tipped peaks of the Remarkables. It therefore comes as no surprise that the locale has been used in many movies, including – of course, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There seems to be a lot of construction going on around town, however, so enjoy it while you can!


This is clearly a fast growing area, built largely on the success of the adventurous pursuits industry. And it’s not called the Adventure Capital of the World for nothing. There’s seemingly nothing you can’t do here (as long as you have a hefty wallet to support your adventurous spirit) from jet boating and bungy jumping to skydiving, paragliding and trekking.

In homage to our location, we decided to give paragliding a go, and travelled a few miles out of town to Coronet Peak where we would launch from about 3800 feet. Unlike Milford Sound, we were blessed with stunning weather, and the view from the top of Coronet Peal was breathtaking. We could see Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables (or as Lloyd calls them, the Incredibles) on the horizon, while below us was a vibrant, green valley of farms and expensive housing estates.


The toughest part of paragliding, as you might expect, is the take off and the landing. As these were tandem paraglides (we’d have needed a good deal more time and a great deal more money to go solo!), our ‘pilots’ would clearly do most of the work, and all we really had to worry about was not getting in the way, or – worst of all – falling over and tripping up the pilot behind you.

Preflight preparation. "Your crew is here primarily for your safety...."

Lloyd’s take-off was almost text book. Standing on a downward facing slope, Lloyd and his pilot Ivan starting running as soon as a strong up-wind materialized. The result is the inflation of the canopy which happens with such force that both passengers can be pushed backwards. Lloyd and Ivan (unlike me!) managed to avoid going backwards but – for just a moment – they ran in place before gaining control over the canopy and propelling themselves forward and off the side of the peak.

Lloyd moments before he was carried off the mountain...

Click here to see video highlights of our flights!

Lloyd moments after he was carried off the mountain...

After just a few seconds of intense concentration and physical effort allowed us to take off, the overwhelming sensation is of peace. As I settled into my little paraglider seat, I realized how incredibly quiet it was around me. We swooped around like a bird, taking advantage of the same thermals to climb higher. With just the wind rustling the canopy and rushing around our ears, we flew almost in perfect silence just a few inches above a line of ragged peaks.


While Mike (my pilot) and I were enjoying a more gentle and scenic flight, Lloyd and younger pilot Ivan were having altogether too much fun spiraling several hundred feet above us. Mike and I tried to catch the same thermal, but – to the utter relief of half of me – we failed. I always feel so conflicted by the desire to see and experience more, while at the same time trying not to be crippled by the discomforts of motion sickness. My parents didn’t shake me enough as a child or something….

There are two ways to land. The first, much like take off, is where you kind of run-in as the pilot slows the paraglider down as much as possible. Watching Lloyd’s landing from above him, it was clear he was going for this option when, about ten feet above the ground, I saw his legs start to frantically run in mid-air! To my relief, Lloyd and his back landed safely, and he quickly sprung up to see Mike and I demonstrate the other (somewhat less advanced) landing. In this one, the pilot did all the work, while I just sat back and slid back to solid ground on my nicely padded personal seat.

After paragliding, we headed up Bob’s Peak on Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola. I’m sure at one point there was little reason to go up Bob’s Peak other than to enjoy the spectacular view, but some bright spark has built a tourist/adrenaline junky mecca up there that includes bungy jumping, a number of luge tracks and paragliding, in addition to restaurants, bars and tourist shops. Of course, for the privilege of the opportunity to part with you hard earned cash at any of these venues, you must first pay to ride the gondola. Rising almost half a kilometre, and an average incline of 37 degrees, this is about as adventurous as you can expect me to be in Queenstown!

More lupins! This was a view from Bob's Peak. Note the paraglider which is also offered here. If we had to choose again between Coronet Peak and Skyline, then we'd opt for Skyline for the amazing views over the Lake.

After the superb experience we had toboganning at the Great Wall several months ago, we were excited by the opportunity to “luge” atop Bob’s Peak. It turned out to be more like go-carting, but that didn’t stop Lloyd from quality-controlling the 800 metre long Advanced Route four times. I enjoyed the more sedate Scenic Route, with my adrenaline rush deriving only from Lloyd almost crashing into me a few times.

On the ski lift, headed to the top of the luge run. We did this more times than mid-30 somethings should admit to....

Lloyd, well, being Lloyd

Before we descended back to our campervan for the night, we enjoyed a sundowner in the bar overlooking Queenstown. Tomorrow, we plan to be up early to enjoy the morning before setting out on the six hour drive up to Fox Glacier.

It remains to be seen if Queenstown's adrenaline fever takes over...

Posted by jacquiedro 18:55 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world

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Hello! It's great to see such a fantastic view.
Also you experience of your paragliding.
I love the sea very much, if I have a chance to try, I will choose to enjoy the sea views!
Hahahaha, I like the last photo too!

by catherine9

very attractive !

by chinafoot

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