The very first thing I noticed when walking out of the airport in Queenstown, New Zealand was the purity of the air, so fresh and surreal. Looking up, regardless of direction, we were completely surrounded by mountains, all of which were capped with pure white snow. New Zealand is the only place I have ever been where I am convinced we have not caused detrimental impacts to the environment (though perhaps I am unaware of all the details). Besides the airport, the land immediately surrounding it and the surface of water, it seemed that flat ground didn’t exist. Everything everywhere was on a hill. The ‘stumble’ back to our accomodation, though remarkably close to the town centre, included a steep hill and an endless flight of stairs which never seemed to be a challenge during the day, but caused havoc at night.
Our first stop was the local supermarket. The struggle to find the freshest piece of fruit seemed foreign, the place was packed full of the freshest fruit I have ever seen.
The Town Centre itself was very small, perhaps because a bigger one wouldn’t fit. The locals all seemed to be in hiding. Queenstown really is a tourist town, full of young and care free people with no concern greater than which mountain had good snow and where to find the cheapest beer. Day 1 I was told we needed to get a Ferg Burger, not that I knew what that was. The burger place was completely full, with a line out front every time I went at every hour. I was told it closed its doors for a few hours every day, though I didn’t see it, and I had a lot of amazing burgers.
I recall walking along the boardwalk, with no destination in mind, staring out in to the water. The clearest water I have ever seen. Pebbles clearly defined beneath the surface and not a piece of trash in sight.
The snow was the main attraction. Of a 10 day visit I recall doing 8 trips to the snow. One at night after we told ourselves we weren’t going that day, and ultimately decided later to go anyway. The mountains were unlike anything I have experienced in Australia. With so much talk of which mountain had better coverage and where was patchy in town, I struggled to find anywhere that I didn’t deem to have almost ideal boarding conditions. Too many trips to Mt Buller, squeezing through hoards of the fumbling and stumbling, avoiding grass and ice at every turn had perhaps given me rose tinted goggles.
Despite my many trips to the snow prior to NZ, it was there that I really learnt how to control a board. I will return there one day. The sooner the better, though I have learnt that I have a tendency to convince myself that the last place I visited is my favourite, and that the best decision is to go somewhere new. So to somewhere new I will go.
74 days left. Then I am once again free to live my life.