I was really looking forward to getting back to Queenstown as it was my first chance to get back on a mountain bike.
To get there we had to travel through Central Otago, which was an area made to sound fairly bland by the guidebook. This wasn’t the case, as our drive meandered through rolling rugged hills made all the better by the sunny weather. Central Otago seems to be the place to grow fruit and we passed numerous fruit stalls and shops on our journey. We obliged by partaking in some fruit consumption. A punnet of cherries was hastily despatched and they were so good we decided to pick our own cherries, which was followed up by having a fruit ice cream made for us also.
Feeling rather stuffed we pressed on completing the 300km plus drive in a little under 6 hours.
We already knew that we liked Queenstown after our morning there a week previous. The entire town seems to buzz with people off to do something exciting like bungee or skydive.
We checked into the Butterfli Lodge, which was the hostel we had chosen the week before after visiting a few different places. Our impressions then were that it was fairly quiet and relaxed, and we were right. Straight away we felt happy staying there. We then proceeded to the famous Fergburger burger bar. We experienced a Fergburger when we passed through the week before also. They are somewhat addictive.
On the morning of our first full day we set off to explore the town before deciding to do the extreme activity of Frisbie Golf, which involves hurling frisbees at a target. The targets were 18 metal basket things. Each hole had a tee area. It was actually really good fun, especially when I roused a meditating man from his meditation when my frisbee ricoched off a tree and hit him on the back. The game took a good hour and resulted in a narrow victory for me, although Claire thought I should be disqualified for hitting a person.
(You can’t teach technique like that!)
We then grabbed lunch and headed up the Gondola which ferries adventurous types up the mountain that looms over Queenstown. From the top you can Downhill Mountain Bike, Bungee, Parascend or ride the Luge. We went for the Luge which was great fun. It is basically a plastic luge on wheels which rolls down a concrete track. I half expected it to be dummed down UK style but changed my mind when I entered the first bend without braking and nearly toppled off the side of the track.
In the evening we met up with my Mountain Biking mate Nick from the UK. He is out here travelling also so we arranged to meet up and do some riding here in Queenstown.
An important part of Mountain Biking is the taking on of fuel the day before a ride. This process is known as Carbohydrate Loading. The two of us, assisted by Claire, carried out some textbook carb loading in the form of beer and fergburgers. As I half staggered back to our hostel at 1am stuffing a huge burger into my mouth I wondered whether I would be in any state to ride come the morning.
Despite my almost famous inability to function after consuming the smallest amount of alcohol I somehow managed to get up early the day after and met Nick for our ride. The riding here is fantastic and we had a really good time. Sadly my fitness levels have dived considerably and I struggled to the extent that I pushed up most hills. In my defence though the hills here are viciously steep and rather regular.
(2o minutes in the saddle and I was standing like that)
Nick had to move on that evening (via Fergburger) so we bid him farewell and began our preparations to leave the next day. I battled all evening to fend off my own Fergberger desires.