185. Blue Skies in Queenstown

Blue Skies in Queenstown: About five days after we arrived in New Zealand, the weather took a turn. An unsignaled left turn into Lousytown. It started when we hit windy Wellie, where we departed the North Island on one of the most harrowing high-wind-and-screaming-baby plane takeoffs I’ve ever experienced. It was pleasant enough when we touched down in Christchurch, but within 24 hours of picking up the camper and barreling into this country’s “summer,” the bone chilling wind and rain began. At first we laughed it off with local weather jokes, like the one that goes “Yeah sure we’ve got four seasons in New Zealand. And you’ll get all four in one day.” We also remembered our Auckland taxi driver’s ominous comments on the subject.

Amy: So what’s the weather going to be like this month?
Driver: Ah, now there’s one.
Amy: One what?
Diver: An impossible question. Don’t bother with the weather reports on television either, because they’ll just say, “It’s going to be fine today, except for the rain.”

So we shivered. Morning, midday, midnight. I wrestled to keep the van on the road in sideways rain and gale winds in the Southland and we lamented briefly – oh how we lamented – our choice of New Zealand for our honeymoon. There was dashboard pounding, gloomy sleep-ins and plenty of talk about Fiji. Then about four soggy days later, we pulled into Queenstown.

Queenstown is a curious place where it apparently only rains paragliders, because while we saw no signs of foul weather, we could lay hazily on the lawn beside the camper and count dozens of spiraling fabric sails like sheep over our heads. This place is a classic flagstone chalet, mountain ringed ski town that, in the summer, is inundated with goggle-tanned adrenaline junkies. And there’s a seemingly endlessly supply of companies here who’ll take you jet boating, hang gliding, paragliding, parasailing, skydiving, heli-skiing, heli-biking and heli-jet-boating. Ok I made that last one up, but it is the sort of town where you start to feel naked if you’re not at all times carrying some kind of gear or at the very least, a Frisbee.

Amy: If we’re gonna stay here more than one night we’ll need some gear.
Me: Yes! What kind of gear will you get?
Amy: Crampons probably.
Me: I’m getting a helmet!

In the end, we spent all our gear money on the best hamburger in New Zealand, a Fergburger (available in NZ beef, lamb or venison) after doing worthy time in a line that snaked down the block. And while we took a pass on anything para or heli-related, we did greatly enjoy many sedentary hours on Queenstown’s gorgeous waterfront, counting the broken arms and legs (13 in two days) and soaked up enough Vitamin D for about three honeymoons. Must be that extra big hole in the ozone. Take that, Fiji.

Photos, left to right: A fine day for a Fergburger with edan; a fine day for lawn bowling at the Queenstown bowling club; a fine day for walking in Queenstown Gardens.


  1. Anonymous says:

    When you get food do you make two orders one to photograph and one to eat or are the one in the same?

  2. Sloan says:

    Discipline is remembering to take the picture before you lay into it.

  3. Michael says:

    Queenstown definitely made me the adrenaline junkie that I am today. Nothing like hitting that town at the age of 21 and a wallet full of cash to make you go CRAZY.

  4. Sloan says:

    The "bro" spotting in that town is unparalleled.