Saved the best for last

I waited until I got to Australia to schedule my return flight to the States. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to finish my trip. It was important to me that I left satisfied with my Aussie-NZ experience, even though I didn’t have the months of time necessary to comprehensively see these two countries. It quickly became clear from talking to other travelers that my final stop in New Zealand would be my favorite stop.

Our Kiwi Experience bus pulled into Queenstown, the party capital of New Zealand, on July 3rd. I booked my flight to LA for exactly one week later. While I had to run in and out of most towns during my trip, I made sure that I would have enough time to develop a connection with the city of Queenstown. My travel buddy, Jake, left on July 5th. I loved traveling with friends, but I was stoked to have some time on my own.

It’s so easy to fall in love with Queenstown. The town center is a three block by three block radius (relatively big by NZ standards) of ski shops, bungy/skydive offices, pubs, restaurants, and shops. It boarders Lake Wakatipu which is completely surrounded by snow capped peaks of the southern alps. Below the peaks of these mountains are vacation homes with priceless views.

This time of year is peak season for Queenstown. Every hostel and hotel bed must be booked weeks in advance. The four ski fields around Queenstown are covered with snow (a bit icy by my standards but considered powder by the kiwis). Everyday, planes filled with vacationing Aussies arrive at the Queenstown airport. It’s a quaint and charming ski city that caters to travelers of all ages. The boujie feel that some ski resort towns have can be found in certain corners of Queenstown, but most of the city revolves around party and adventure seekers. I could walk from one corner of the city to another in less than 10 minutes. I met enough people on the way down New Zealand that I couldn’t turn a corner in Queenstown without bumping into someone I knew. Traveling alone wasn’t so lonely.

I spent a number of afternoons in Queenstown strolling along the lake with a cup of coffee. I decided that of all the breathtaking scenery that I’ve seen on my journeys, this took the cake. Queenstown is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I love that city, and I hope to return one day. Because I finished my trip in Queenstown, I left the region with a huge sense of satisfaction. Here are some of my photos from that week:

Queenstown from above

 

Lake Waktipu from the Queenstown “beach”. You can see part of the city on the far right.

 

Sunrise on route to Cardrona Alpine Resort. Skiing or boarding in Queenstown is incredibly easy. For a little over $300, a ski shop set me up with board, boots, pants, helmet, goggles, lift tickets, and transportation for three days. The bus picked up at my hostel at 7 am and left the mountain at 4 pm.

 

No trees on these slopes. Cardrona was loads of fun. It’s about half the size of rocky mountain ski resorts.

Queenstown in a picture. The gondola takes you up to the top of a mountain overlooking the city. A bungy jumper hangs from the platform while a hang glider flies over town.

 

I drove a luge down the mountain. In order to get footage of my friends, I purposely stayed in last place.

 

View of the luge track from above

 

My hostel’s kitchen beats the view of any other kitchen I’ve seen.

 

Standing on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. On some days, the surrounding mountains would be covered with snow. The streets of Queenstown were coated white on these days too.

 

Leaving Queenstown is sad, but the views from my seat are incredible.

 

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