Our stay in Queenstown was over, but we had time for one last adrenaline-inducing activity on our way out of town. Barely had my tears of sadness about leaving beautiful Q Town dried, before they were replaced by a whole face full of river water as we sped down Shotover River on a jet boat. Yes, I did something actually genuinely classed as thrilling – shocking I know. The Shotover Jet excursion is included in the price of the Contiki tour (otherwise it costs $135 for an adult ticket) and I’m really glad it was because I don’t think it would have been something I’d have organised for myself and that would have been a massive shame. Basically you’re given coveralls, a life jacket, asked if you’re pregnant or suffer from back or neck injuries and then you’re flung around Shotover River at 85mph in a big, red jet boat – doing sharps turns and bouncing over the water. It is super super fun. The boat driver is an absolute maniac and goes out of his/her way to ensure you’re never quite sure if you’re going to hit the canyons walls or a rock or a sand bank and meet your doom. Suffice to say I screamed for quite a lot of the ride but, for once, I wasn’t alone (unlike the quad biking fiasco). If you happen to be feeling worse for wear after a night out in Queenstown, the Shotover ride will well and truly blow the cobwebs away. The only downside is it’s not a very good way to take in the scenery if that’s what you’re after – water is literally hurling into your face at alarming speed, making it very difficult to see. I did spend a good majority of the ride with my eyes shut just to stop the freezing cold water going in them, but I think that’s just an indication of how awesomely fast they go. My advice: wear sunglasses. The Shotover ride really boosted our spirits, woke us up and pumped us up for the next stop on the tour.
The penultimate stop on the tour was Dunedin and, after we’d all discarded our sexy (not) coveralls and wiped the river water off ourselves, we spent the majority of the day travelling there from Queenstown – stopping in the charming town of Alexandra for lunch en route. Dunedin is know as the ‘student city’ of New Zealand and has a strong Scottish heritage (Dunedin is the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh) – which is evident throughout the town. It has fabulous Victorian and Edwardian architecture which really reminded me of home. Sadly I failed to be very snap happy during our time in Dunedin, so neglected to take some pictures of the wonderful buildings – what an idiot. We stayed in the Victoria Hotel and, I’m glad to say, the rooms were spacious, clean and the beds were extremely comfy (like seriously, I was so unhappy we didn’t stay there a couple of nights because those beds were like heaven). The hotel also happened to be across the road from Dunedin’s very own Cadbury World. Seeing as how I can just pop down the road to Birmingham if I have a particular fancy for a day of chocolate related tourism, I decided against partaking in a tour of the factory but, if you ever find yourself in Dunedin with a serious craving for a Cadbury World tour I would suggest booking your spot as my fellow tour mates who attempted to go were turned away because they were full.
Dunedin is also home to a Speight’s Brewery. Speight’s Ale is a real New Zealand staple and is literally everywhere throughout the country. Contiki obviously think a trip to the Brewery is a must as it’s an included activity on the tour. We were split into two groups and taken on a 45 minute tour of the Brewery, which including learning about the origins of the ale, shown how it’s made and instructed on the special ingredients that go into it. Our tour guide obviously had an extreme passion for Speight’s as he was both an enthusiastic guide and, we suspect, fairly well lubricated by the product he was waxing lyrical about. I kid you not, this guide was either inebriated or just really really happy. It was hilarious. The tour itself didn’t really capture our attention, I’m afraid to say, we were all far more preoccupied with the promised 45 minutes locked in the Brewery bar, which comes at the end of the tour. Seriously, your group is put in bar and essentially allowed as much ale/cider as you can manage – you’re even allowed to pour it yourself. It’s safe to say us lot used and abused this wonderful feature of the tour, drinking as much as humanly possible in our allotted 45 minutes. Luckily, after the Brewery we headed to Speight’s Ale House Restaurant for a meal to mop up the all that booze.
It’s fair to say that, after the excesses of Queenstown none of us were really up for a night out on the town in Dunedin so, despite the free ale and cider, we all spent that night having a very comfortable, and desperately needed, 8 hours in our super comfy beds.
Sadly I need to leave you here – I’m sorry it’s been such a short post. As you probably know, two of my fellow Travel Tea TV writers came to visit me in Cambridge this weekend and I’m unfortunately suffering from the dreaded 2-day hangover so really need to go bed!
Next time I’ll be recounting our race up the steepest street in the World, frolicking on Koekohe Beach (one of my favourite moments of the trip) and the last stop on the tour – Lake Ohau.
P.S. Also sorry for the lack of pictures, I neglected to use my camera in Dunedin. If you want to read a much longer and more visually pleasing story from my adventure – please clip the links below to revisit my other posts.