We were back at it on Day 8. We woke up to great weather so we got our hiking gear on and headed out early. We hiked the Hooker Valley Track which took about 3 hours and gave Caitlin way too much time to make inappropriate jokes about the Valley, Hooker Lake, Hooker River, etc.
The route took us over a few swing bridges right up to the base of Mt. Cook/Mt. Aoraki, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. We were smart to get out early, as the trail was very crowded on our way back.
Once we got done with the hike, we took off to our next destination—Queenstown. The drive was about 3 hours and very hilly, but it seems that the hillier the drive the more interesting and prettier.
Queenstown is going to be the last real town or city we will be staying in so I swear this will be the last time I say this, but Queenstown has now taken over the #1 spot on our list of favorite cities. In everything I've read, it's described as the most popular spot on the South Island and is the "adrenaline capital" of New Zealand. Immediately, we were able to see this as shops lined the streets advertising their own activities.
Once we parked our car (and earned our first New Zealand parking ticket), we went to Winnie's which is a bar and restaurant that a friend of ours recommended to us. This was an awesome spot that had a retractable roof that is opened up on nice days like this was.
They are famous for their pizza, so we split an appetizer of pesto bread and dipping sauces (I'm not sure what they all were), and their most popular pizza, which had a bunch of random things like chicken breast, sweet chili sauce, artichokes and who knows what else—but it was delicious.
After lunch we walked around their town centre (what they call downtown in New Zealand), which was filled with awesome shops, restaurants, bars, and adrenaline pumping activities along the lake (bungee jumping, jet boating, parasailing, and even a haunted house). There were old boats that have been converted into cafes, bars and restaurants, and right alongside the lake a large park that had a very San Franciscan Dolores Park feel (but less drugs).
After a short stroll, we checked into our hotel which is in a great spot within walking distance of the town centre. We didn't have much on the agenda, and Caitlin pulled the 'you're only in New Zealand so many times' argument to talk me into going on a jet boat ride. In it's simplest form, jet boating is a four row speed boat driven by a man who's job is to scare the piss out of you by spinning you in circles and driving as fast as he can at things that would surely kill you if he made contact, but then barely missing them. (We'll upload our video later today if we can find a place with faster Wifi.)
Afterwards, we picked up some beverages (a Tui IPA for myself and a cider for the lady) and headed over to the little Dolores Park area along the waterfront to hang out and drink with the masses of other backpackers.
We were told that they allow open containers on the street until 10PM. We are afraid that it's only a matter of time before some dumbass Americans come over and ruins this rule for everyone but we made it a point to NOT be those people.
For dinner, we went to a local Latin restaurant that got great reviews, and it was fine but nothing to write home about (that phrase works really well in this scenario).
It is 7AM here and we leave at 8:50AM for bungee jumping!!!!!!