The novelty of flying had really worn off by now and so I am just playing a game on my phone when the guys next to me on the plane comment on the mountains. I look and my jaw drops.
We come into land. It's bumpy but my mouth still hangs open at the beauty of this area.
Bright sun-in-eyes car selfie:
This car allows me to charge my phone and play my music through the sound system and I set it all up and head off with my favourite music as the soundtrack to my adventure. I have booked a cheap airbnb place. £34 per night with a lake view. I set off and within the first few minutes the number of breathtaking views starts to overwhelm me. Each corner brings a new gasp and, together with how great I feel about how awesome this car is, I can't help but squeal with excitement. 'What's round the next corner? Omg! What about the next turn? Omg!!'
At some point my excitement and joy reach a weird quivery state and I feel myself slightly shaking. The next view pushes me over the emotional edge and I pull over. I feel so strange and then...
... I burst into tears!
Sometimes things can be so beautiful, so magical or even so kind, courageous or incredible that our emotions can't cope. (I am listing good stuff here, but obviously the bad stuff can be overwhelming too as I'm sure we have all experienced). Today I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. It is something that I am humbled by. I know my writing will be incredibly inadequate when it comes to the description of this place and I've seen photos before and thought 'that's pretty' but been otherwise unmoved, so I hesitate to try to describe what might be indescribable but none the less here goes, and while I apologise for my certain failure I want to include a suggestion that you come yourself to see it because it really is very special.
Queenstown is surrounded by tall, fir tree covered mountains. The lush dark green densely pack trees give some of the mountain-sides a velvety look. These mountains are so immense and encircling, it feels like being hugged by the planet. In the presence of these giants of nature, the guardians of this town, I can imagine people find this place very easy to find peace and healing here. It is a town made for fun and entertainment but in a setting to make the soul sing and without the tackiness that popular places can often suffer with. The clouds lift and decend on the whim of weather and frequently giving the appearance of the mountains communing with the sky.
Queenstown is right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu which shimmers magically in the bright sunlight, providing a magical carpet at the feet of our mountain giants.
Every water activity possible is under way on this liquid playground but the immense nature of this body of water means that it never feels crowded. Power boats, pedal boats, sail boats, kayaks, paddle boards, hilarious floaty bikes, speeding diving sharklike jetboats and jet skis all grace the waters and look perfectly glorious in the sunshine. The water is not warm however and sit for a while and watch a group of lads pressure each other into running in. They each take their turn and prove their manliness ;)
The pebbly beach is the setting for all sorts of birds with gulls, ducks, finches being the most common. The finches are particularly confident fellows and I fed some from my hand after a little coaxing. :)
It's simply stunning and I realise within seconds that I could easily live here, not that I would or will but I could and it would be a happy life. :)
I have digressed from the story of my day and its rollercoaster of emotions. Let's now go back to my crying like a baby by the side of the road ;)
I waited until I felt composed again and I pulled out, driving here is easy and fun (parking isn't but we'll come to that later). There are hills that my car back home would struggle with but this one finds easy. I arrive at the place I believe I am staying and it has a driveway that looks almost vertical to me (of course it isn't vertical but you get the point, it was steep).
I rev the engine and power up the hill in my awesome red wheels and park at the top. I get out and look for Nick, my Airbnb host and there is no sign of him. I notice the door is open and I head inside. "Hello? Nick?". I find a room that looks ready for a guest and I head in and sit on the bed. My phone rings:
"Hey Peta! It's Nick. Everything ok?"
"yeah where are you? I couldn't find you but the door was open so I let myself in, hope that's ok."
"erm well yeah it would be but I am here and you're not. Are you sure you're at he right place?"
"Erm yeah, 41 right?"
"No it's 23!"
"Shit o shit... Then whose house am I sitting in?"
Laughing, "I don't know! I can wait for you outside if it helps."
"Ok sure I'll be right there!"
I scurry out of the house, my eyes darting around and expecting to be discovered for the trespassers I have become any second. I jump in the car and do the fastest seven point turn I can in a car where I have to re-remind myself how to reverse and I start down the vertical drive with the tyres slipping on the gravelly surface. The car struggles a bit to level out at the road and I drive the 20 metres to the correct house. I motion for Nick to get in the car as we go up the longish driveway to his place. Nick is now introduced to babbling mortified house-breaker Peta as I ramble into his friendly, kind and thankfully understanding face.
Nick is a fellow Brit (there are a lot of us in New Zealand) living and working here. As a climbing instructor complete with a fear of heights, he is understanding and patient. He shows me into his one bed place. He is also staying there and is giving me his room while he sleeps in the living room on a mattress. This is a bit odd but c'est la vie. Nick is as nice as his place is a dump and Nick is really nice. I feel myself compelled to start re-decorating but Nick rents this place, not me so I just try and hide my feelings as he shows me around. I think about breaking back into the other place as I look around. The curtains need burning. A spider runs across the living room wall as we chat and the whole place smells of damp. I find out that the door there is never locked and there is no lock on my room, the bathroom and I'm not sure if there is even a lock on the front door. I want to go somewhere else, am I being a princess? I even consider sleeping in the car. I like Nick though and we discuss life and fear (climbers encounter that a lot) and this chap seems like a really nice well balanced fellow with a lot less pride in where he lives than would have ;) I decide to go and explore the town to take my mind off the future slumber spiders. I will try not to spend much time here, damp makes me wheezy! :(
I arrive in town and it's cold. So I go for ice cream and hot chocolate! Deal with that teeth! The hot chocolate (their speciality is meh... My number 1 hot chocolate is still Edinburgh.. Message me for details if you're a fan). The ice cream however is unbelievably good! Oh my goodness and I savour my single scoop for as long as I can... Trying to be present and attentive for every single delicious mouthful.
My spirits replenish with chocolates goodness. I go on the online hunt for local friends. I haven't heard from Nana so I think maybe her plans have changed and look for new travellers or locals looking for friends. "I'll be your friend!" :)
This leads me to chatting to a number of people and arranging to meet a chap called Davey. I still have some time to look around before I meet him though and I wander around the town.
The town has a number of excellent street performers. A very confident juggler enthralled a decent crowd with feats of juggling and comedy :) He is charming and endearing and I enjoyed his show. I walked around the block after the show and when I returned he was nearly packed up, I went over and gave him $5 for his efforts. He suprises me with a very under confident reply of "oh, thank you that's very kind.". It reminds me of how we all wear a mask at times.
The centre is alive with music from many directions, live and recorded and it provides a beautiful accompaniment to the scenery. Now I leave to meet Davey.
Davey is a mountain surveyor and looks like it. He is tall, muscly and tanned and amused at how little I am prepared for the cold weather. "The weather changes very fast here. That's why so many people die up on the mountains.". That told me! ;) - He couldn't be more spot on though as I discover.
We walk around the town and he explains surveying to me. He is suprised I am interested but many people are suprised by my type of questions . I am endlessly curious.
We go to a bar and have some strange but delicious fishy tapas after I explain how omega-3 works and why you can only get it from fish :) It is a really pleasant time but I can tell he is tired and this reminds me that I also am and I make my excuses and say good night.
I head back to my car ready to face the place I will have to lay my head tonight. I see my car and also something flickering under the windscreen wiper: "Noooooooo!" I whisper as I approach the car. Yep it's a ticket! I had made sure I didn't park on the yellow lines. I read the ticket and discovered that in New Zealand you have to park with the direction of traffic on that side of the road. Nuts!!!
I head back to my digs and face my room. The smell hits me as I enter the house and I feel a bit of anxiety. Now, I don't think I'm a princess type but now I question that a little. The curtains are heavily stained, cobwebs hang around the lights but I know the very thin sheets have been washed because I witness Nick doing it earlier. There is a vent about the bed that is shedding what looks like wood shavings. The Airbnb reviews were really good so I feel a bit confused, am
I too precious here? My phone beeps and my friend Phil asks me how I am getting on. I tell him honestly about the room and he tells me to sleep in my sleeping bag liner as it might make me feel better. He also says things will probably look better in the morning.
I am super tired and fall quickly asleep wrapped up in my sleeping bag liner :)