Flashback: Tales from Middle-Earth [en]

This is a flashback post, that is, it refers to a long-passed event, or contains content that was originally published through a different channel.
In this case it’s based on an e-mail I sent to a bunch of friends on 2007-12-02.

Hey girls, hey boys!

Time sure passes by! Last time I wrote, I was sitting at the beach in LA. As you may remember I went on to New Zealand the next day. Now, more than two months have passed, and I’m still stuck here in NZ! Of course that’s a good thing, and lots of stuff happened since. So let me fill you in on the details…

Changing planes in Auckland I arrived in Christchurch, a small city on the South Island. After experiencing the American lack of urban planing in Las Vegas and LA, Christchurch turned out to be refreshingly European. Several aspects of the city center (P1) made it
quite hard to believe that I had actually arrived down under.

P1: Neuschwanstein Wieners @ Christchurch

Anyways, the next day I continued my Journey to Queenstown, a small resort town in the middle of the Southern Alps. There I met Vonkish — an old friend of mine from Prague — who has already been living in NZ for 1.5 years. As promised, I could move in at his place, and that’s where I’ve been living ever since.

P2: Lake Wakatipu @ Our Living Room

We share the house among 7 people at the moment, which is quite a lot considering we only have three bedrooms. However, it’s very close to the center of QT, and we have a great view on Lake Wakatipu from our living room (P2). The house itself is not overlygood-looking. Moreover, Kiwis haven’t heard of double glazing or other means of insulation yet. That’s no problem now, but it was rather inconvenient in the winter.

Speaking of which, I was actually able to spend the first few weeks of my trip to NZ enjoying winter. The ski fields closed down about 3 weeks after my arrival, but I was lucky enough to get a cheap pass for the rest of the season. So I’ve been up a place called “The Remarkables” about a dozen times.

While it is one of the most famous resorts in NZ, it is by no means comparable to Europe. They only have three chair lifts, which are all painfully slow. Also, you have to go all the way up by car, and they only have a dusty gravel road. So in the end it takes you about 40 minutes to reach the lifts from Queenstown. To preserve Vonkish’s car, we’ve been hitchhiking most of the time.

Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun to go snowboarding there. They have a pretty decent snowpark and also some nice beginner rails and boxes. However, we got lots of fresh snow on the last days of the season, so we went free-riding most of the time. Even after all accessible slopes are pisted, you can get some great runs hiking up to the ridge of The
Remarkables. And the view up there is astonishing! (P3)

P3: Snowboard Hike @ The Remarkables
(BG: Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown)

After the lifts where closed, the season was not over yet. We still hiked up a couple of times, both at The Remarkables and at Coronet Peak, the other nearby resort. There I met Petr, another Czech guy who has been living here for some time. Since then we were up several times mainly for building boxes (P4) and kickers (P5).

P4: 50-50 to BS 180 out @ Coronet Peak
(BG: The Remarkables)
P5: Frontside Air @ The Remarkables

I also learned some new tricks during that time, including a frontside boardslide and a proper backside 180 over a medium size kicker (6 meter table)(P6). So after all, the snowboarding season was quite good over here. But I’m still a bit pissed hearing that you’ve already got heaps of snow back home in Europe now!

P6: BS180 Mute @ The Remarkables

On the other hand, snowboarding is not the only thing to do around here. Though I haven’t been traveling too much yet, I did a nice trip to the west cost about eight weeks ago. I visited Wanaka (P7), Mt. Aspiring National Park, some nice beaches (P8)(pretty cold though, I was lucky I bought that wetsuit in the US), and the glaciers Fox and Franz Josef, which descent from the Southern Alps and almost reach the sea, surrounded by tropical rain forests.

P7: Lake Wanaka
P8: Haast Beach

Queenstown itself is a rather interesting place, too. Though it only has about 12000 inhabitants, it is crowded with tourists and long-term visitors. Rumors say, there are some 3000 Brazilians living here, and there definitely are heaps of Aussies, British, Irish, Japanese, Koreans, etc. However, you will rarely find Kiwis here!

As you can imagine, this place has anything to rip of tourists. Besides skiing in the winter Queenstown focuses on a wide range of adventure activities. The world’s first commercial bungee jumping site is just a couple of kilometers away, and it’s not the only one nearby. Otherwise they offer stuff like helicopter trips, river surfing, para-gliding, and jet boating. The latter usually costs 60 EUR for a 20 minutes trip, but me and my flat-mates did it almost for free on locals’ day. For 8 Euros, this was actually fun! (P9)

P9: Jetboating @ Shotover River

The other thing I did after the snowboard season ended was getting a part-time job. So I’ve been working at a small computer company for about two months now. They do websites for customers from the tourism industry, and they are a rather relaxed employer. Though it has been fun working there, I decided to quit now and try something else for now.

Last week I applied for a job in some of the local bars here in Queenstown. I was actually invited for a trial in a place called World Bar yesterday, and I’ll start working there next week. Though the place is pretty busy, this kind of work seems very relaxing so far. No
responsibility whatsoever! And it’s only three nights a week, so I should finally have the time to travel some more.

Though I really enjoy working at that bar and going out in Queenstown, all the pubs, bars, and clubs around here are actually pretty crappy. Well, most of you know, how picky I am about the places I go to in Munich. And I have to say, I really miss places like KuK, Favorit,
Hochhaus, and Registratur! On the other hand, it is fun hanging around in these tourist joints with lots of drunk people from all over the world. I even don’t care about the boring music any more. I guess, that’s what it’s like being on vacation!

So that’s about all for now. Just for the record, I intend to stay in New Zealand for another two months. That means, I should be back to Europe by the end of February.

It also means, I’m going to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve here in Queenstown. Pretty weird considering it is summer by now. We’ll probably do a BBQ by the lake or something. Should be fun! At least I won’t have to put up with all that winterly Christmas decoration crap!

I hope I’ll manage to send my next report a little sooner than this one. Until then, I’d appreciate to hear lots of stories from you! Though I’m not home-sick yet, I definitely want to hear what’s going on at home!

Peace out,
Michael

PS: I still haven’t seen “The Lord of the Rings”.

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