Monday, March 6, 2017


Sunday, March 5, 2017, day 8
Today we shuttle (that's what they call riding in the van) to the Gibbston Valley and we stop at the famous Kawarau Bungy Bridge, site of the #1 commercial bungy jump in the world. There is a line-up!
OMG! I am walking down to the viewing area with Net, my favourite doctor - turns out he's not only a brain surgeon but he teaches brain surgery - how smart do you have to be for that? I stop at the top of the stairs because I can see the railing edge below is jammed with people trying to get a better look. Net says, 'you can't see anything from there, you have to come down closer.' I say, 'you've obviously never suffered from short person syndrome.' He takes my arm and pulls me down, politely gets people to move out of the way and installs me right where we can see everything. At the top of the bridge, the next person in line is dressed in a wet suit (already having paid their $195 and signed away all liability) has a belt around the waist and around their feet, tied together, attached to the bungy. Below, in the river are two people in a zodiac which is anchored against the current. After the person jumps, it is their job to grab him or her from the air with a pole and bring them to safety. The first jumper, a young woman says 'I think I've changed my mind', the guy says, 'no you haven't' and gives her a gentle push between the shoulder blades. We hear a bit of a strangled scream as she topples over, goes down and bounces back up two or three times. The guys in the boat move out, still with a rope anchor to shore. The bungy-er, hanging upside down, has to grab the extended pole and they pull her in. They just manage to get rid of her back at the original spot and the guy atop the bridge has the next girl ready to go. She has chosen another option which is for them to set it up so she drops/plummets far enough to go almost fully under the water, head first before the bungy elastics her back up. What fun? We head back to the vans marveling at the people who are dumb enough (or is it rich enough?) to partake in that sport! The van ride so far has been scary enough for me - we've crossed the most dramatic mountain range on the South Island and the switch backs are incredible - there are people cycling this! It would be bad enough but they are competing with the vehicular traffic as well with no shoulder! Is everyone crazy? I must admit, I did cross a few swinging suspension bridges on this trip that I never thought I could! I do have a slightly serious fear of heights...
We are dropped off at the Gibbston River Trail which is a gorgeous, lovely 10 km hike alongside the river gorge with minor elevation gain of a mere 330 ft - a piece of cake at this point! Again we have been awarded a beautiful sunny day that was supposed to be rainy - people are saying that they have this fab rain gear that they've been carrying for the past 8 days - one guy even tells us about his 5 lb poncho and the comment of the day is that the best rain gear is the kind that you don't get to take out of your pack!
We arrive at the winery, have a good lunch with thin crust pizza made in an outdoor brick oven. We have a wine tasting hosted by a very young Brit import who admits he's only been in NZ for 18 months but he's convincingly knowledgeable and cute with a charming accent and he pours well so I'm okay with it!
Back in the vans for a quick shuttle to the Sofitel hotel in Queenstown. We have the rest of the afternoon on our own to relax or shop Queenstown. After checking out our sumptuous room,Janet and I take a walk through the busy downtown area, full of high end retail and touristy areas with tour shops and cafes. Janet finds a lovely opal ring that suits her taste and like a good sister, I convince her she should get it, after all, it's her birthday next week and she deserves it! She really didn't need much encouragement! In the same jewelers I found a spiral out of greenstone that I feel has my name on and make a purchase too!
Tonight's dinner is at Jervois Steakhouse on the second floor of the hotel - Brandon had warned me that if I liked the beef last night, I would have the opportunity of going for a double header as he knew there would be another beef option tonight. When they brought my filet of beef with a hunting knife on the plate I figured to heck with the gauche thing and took a picture - I didn't care if I was the only one!
Fitbit, 11.5 km; MA, 9.6 km - now, seriously, I KNOW I went farther than Janet did today!

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