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Day 27 – Queenstown to Omarama

November 11, 2012

Our journey today would take us from Queenstown which had been our base since Wednesday – we’ve had a great time whilst there and is certainly somewhere we would have possibly spent longer at had we more time.

Our destination was Omarama which is a small town that lies on state highway 8 and has a worldwide reputation fro gliding because of the strong northwest thermal updraughts. As it is a Sunday we found it a little noisy as the small planes towing the gliders seemed to be taking off at around 5min intervals.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that we had passed the spot on our way in to Queenstown where the birth of bungy jumping in NZ first commenced back in 1988. The bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge is where you plummet 134m (440ft) over the gorge towards the fast running river tied to a rubber cord strapped to your ankles and thighs – not for the faint-hearted. So we decided to stop and see if there was going to be any action and we were not to be disappointed as there were a steady stream of people looking for that ‘thrill of a lifetime’. We watched as a young couple tandem jumped of the jump pod and hurtled downwards before being yanked back up through the tension of the elasticated cord.

We got to chat with them afterwards and it had been their first jump and were still buzzing with the thrill of doing it. They had decided to jump together because they felt if they had gone solo one of them may well have pulled out at the last moment.

So as we left after watching other ‘jumpers’ we looked at each other and said – yup it’s to get to out of here before we have any foolish ideas of jumping!!

Back on the road our journey continued on state highway 6 which took us through some of the wine and fruit growing area of the Gibbston Valley. This area is particularly well known for it’s Pinot Noir grapes and it certainly does taste good as we sampled a bottle with our meal the previous evening.

We reached Bannockburn then Cromwell which is at the junction of state highway 6 and 8 just as it started to rain very heavily. Thankfully it wasn’t too long before we left it behind as we followed the shoreline of Lake Dunstan then through the Lindis Pass. We were really high up at this point and the surrounding vista was stunning. From the summit of the Pass coasted down hill for around 25km until we entered Omarama where the sun was shining as we drove into the holiday park.

Our plan was to get booked in then drive up to the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park which Mount Cook the highest mountain in NZ stands (3,754m/12,316ft above sea level). However, on checking in with the webcam that overlooks Mt Cook we could see that we would be wasting our time as it was raining and very cloudy. The forecast for tomorrow is promising so we plan to set off early and hopefully do some walking towards Mt Cook.

So instead we took a stroll around Omarama which didn’t really take that long before returning back to the holiday park and spent the afternoon relaxing.

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