Ever have those moments when you forget everything, traveling memories come flooding back and your brain just transports you back to a specific time and place?
You know what I mean? You just start to lose all sense of being, you start to smile, you can feel what the air around you was like, your nose can smell all those familiar smells, you can just picture it like you’re there?
Well that’s just happened to me, it might be because of a conversation I had the other day that the traveling memories came flooding back. I was actually just finishing up a new post for you all when I was transported back to Neverland. (So I’ve replaced that one with this one.) My brain works like this sometimes; off the cuff, sporadic, forget what I planned an idea pops into my head and I run with it. I’ll warn you in advance I have no idea what journey I’m taking you on today. So sit back and enjoy wherever this leads to.
So where am I actually talking about?
The country is famous for many things – for Dairy, a reputation for having the best lamb on earth, indigenous Maori people, volcanoes, hot-springs, home to the intimidating Hakka and where middle earth came to life. Yes I’m talking about New Zealand…
However to find Neverland though, you need to go on a journey through New Zealand to find it. First of all you need to hop over to the South Island, prize yourself away from the gorgeous Abel Tasman national park and cruise down the coast. Take a trip through the old western town of Greymouth, then watch as the clouds descend, nearly touching the ground as you work through the glaciers of Franz Joseph and fox. By now you will have been blown away by New Zealand but we haven’t reached Neverland yet. Next comes the imposing Lake Wanaka and Hawea which will take your breath away. Once the lakes are in your rear view window, you compromise through the narrow twisty valley roads nestled within the Southern Alps. You will feel like you heading nowhere but before you know it the roads open up and civilization greets you.
While heading down Frankton Road you will start to feel it, the energy will start to hit you, it’s mesmeric powers will feel like you’re getting sucked into a bubble. As you head down the hill and see the quaint town below, fumes of coffee, malt wine engulf your nose and the crisp air encase you. You are now in the bubble, the rest of the world doesn’t exist, you have arrived in Neverland – More commonly known as Queenstown.
Hundreds, if not thousands of tourists pour in and out every single day; no matter what time of the year but some of us were not tourists. We’re the roamer’s of the earth and Queenstown sucked us in and became our sanctuary and playground.
Queenstown is a melting pot of locals, backpackers, tourists from far and wide and long-term slow travelers like myself. Many have come but never left. This mixture of people coming together creates such a unique atmosphere that I have never felt of experienced anywhere else in the world. When you’re in Queenstown, you’re not just there; you become a part of it.
It’s funny when I arrived I was just another face, another backpacker but just after a few weeks of being there I was seen by the locals as a local. With the town being so small everybody who lives there knows each other; it doesn’t matter if you’re a backpacker living there, a local family, or a business owner. I could walk into my local cafe, not even need to order and there would be a coffee ready for me.
In-fact on my route to work, I would walk into the local store without saying a word the clerk would pull out a pack of cigarettes for me, the cafe would have my coffee ready, and the sandwich shop would have a sandwich saved for me. It wasn’t just me, it’s the same for anybody considered a local. Also locals get certain things for cheaper. (Queenstown has tourist prices and local prices.)
Right now, if I shut my eyes I could be at a lakeside cafe with the mesmeric mountains in front of me, lost in their tranquility. I’d be cupping my coffee as that crisp mountainous air tries to bite my cheeks. I can here and see tourists all around me, all wrapped up layers, scarfs and woolly hats. Some of them ready for a day up in the mountains for skiing and snowboarding, some trying to take pictures to capture the perfect moments others wondering what activity to do next. (I’m actually smiling as I remember how it felt to be there.)
The adventure capital of the southern hemisphere.
New Zealand is widely known as the adventure capital of the world and that may be but the epicenter is in Queenstown. What extreme sports can you think of? Bungy jumps, canyon swings and drops, paragliding, skydiving, mountain climbing, white water rafting, quad or mountain biking through the mountains, jet boat rides through canyons, and of course skiing and snowboarding. In whatever way you want your adrenaline kicked to the max, Queenstown has the collection.
Adventure sports not your thing? Don’t worry there is a flip side too. Take leisurely strolls around the town, there are countless hikes to go on, play Frisbee golf (yes that’s a thing) visit a spa, or surrounding towns like Arrowtown. You can just relax by the lake with a coffee or malt wine, eat in one of the cosy restaurants and keep warm by an open log fire.Wow, I sound like I’m selling you a holiday here. (Not my intention)
As I mentioned above, this town is famous for being the epicenter for adrenaline junkies but that’s through the day – It’s when the sun disappears behind the mountains and the moon takes its place in the night sky that the back streets and alleys light up. Coffee and malt wine are replaced with beers, wine, spirits and jagabombs and the vibrancy is turned up a few notches and Queenstown really comes alive.
Just one more!
Just one more! Is a term synonymous with Queenstown, and with me while I was there. Anybody who knows me from Queenstown, knows just what I’m talking about.
You see in Queenstown you can go out in the evening with the intention of having one or two drinks, maybe a drink with your meal but that’s not how it works out. With the nightlife buzzing every night of the week, people who work during the day want to wind down, the ones that had their adrenaline spiked off the charts are not ready to come down yet and this creates a vortex for partying hard. so when that time comes for when you planned to go home somebody will utter the words ‘Just one more?’ It’s like those words are spellbound because there is no saying no to it, you’re powerless (or have no will power) and before you know it just one more has turned into going home at 4am.
Any backpacker that has passed through or lived in Queenstown will have drunk more than their body weight in alcohol on a regular basis in that town.
Adrenaline through the day, drinking and partying through the night in a magical and picturesque town with the most amazing atmosphere – Is how I spent most of my 8 months there. Even though it’s a small town and due to new faces coming and going everyday no day or night was the same.
Oh yeah, that other famous thing!
I’m sure you can see why I’m missing this bubble I used to live in but there is one other thing. It would be scandalous for me not to even mention it.
Before I even stepped in Queenstown, even thought about going to New Zealand I was told about this from traveler friends of mine. It actually has It’s place in lonely planets top ten things to do in Queenstown. Not a single soul that has visited Queenstown has left without trying it. Put it this way I have witnessed tourists lining the streets just to take a picture, just so they can go home and say they were there, they tried it, they experienced it.
What Am I talking about?
I am talking about the one and only…Fergburger…I’ve seen tourists come to Queenstown not caring about anything else, they came for a Fergburger, This is the only burger joint I know that’s on every Queenstown ‘must do’ list. No franchises, no huge bar, or mass production, just one shop in the whole world, making fresh burgers to order and can only be found in Queenstown.
Now I know there are some people who don’t actually rate a ‘Ferg’ but others will say it’s the best burger they have ever tasted. Well for me while I was in Queenstown I loved them, It’s the only time in my life I have waited nearly two hours for one (it was that busy). However in saying that, since I’ve traveled to a lot more countries since I was in Queenstown, I have to admit, I’ve tasted very few that are better.
Well I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane, as I mentioned at the top of this post I had no idea how this post was going to turn out, it has just been off the cuff but leave your thoughts in the comments below.
If you’re looking to backpack through New Zealand Click here for my guide with a twist.