Friday, July 5, 2013

The Travelling Trio Part 7 - Shotover Jet and Arrowtown

Day 8 - Friday 28th June

Son heads for home today. A check of his itinerary reveals he needs to be checked in by ten to three. We are driven out of the house by tickets for the Shotover Jet at 10 am. We check travel time and best route with our host and he confirms Tommie’s recommendation. The temperature is in minus figures and the car is frosted but the road is dry. 
Even taking our time, it’s less than 15 minutes before we’re pulling into the parking area for the jetboats. We obtain our tickets and head out again and down the hill to the check in hut. There’s a large Contiki group ahead of us. So we chill out… literally… as we watch the comings and goings of the boats as they zip back and forth. It’s nearly 10.30 before we’re all decked out in waterand windproof overcoats and life jackets and are bustled across for our group photo. Then we’re down the ramp and climbing down into the jet boat. 
Our driver is a veteran of over 10 years and it shows. He is slick and professional as is the whole operation. The hand rails are heated but they are not as warm as the ones on the Wanaka River Journey’s boat and don’t really do much on the keeping me warm front. At least they aren’t rods of ice to hang on to.
First up we do a leap and a pass with waving for the cameras on the jetty, then we go tearing down through the rocky gorge doing 360s regularly and continuing straight on. There’s multiple boats operating through the same section of river and there is a carefully choreographed routine to avoid collision. Each boat has a spot where they have to pull up to wait for the other boat to come through, so everyone knows where the others are.  At first our eyes scream at us. Watering and stinging from the wind chill. Son soon pulls his neck thingy up over his nose and mouth. I’m hiding my mouth and nose behind the collar of my own coat. Ah. That’s better. Our eyes adjust after a few minutes and it’s then a matter of just enjoying the ride.  Well, unless you are hubby. He’s lost his headwear. Oh gee that must sting I think. It mustn’t be too bad because he didn’t notice the hat go.  Maybe he was concentrating on the motion sickness. He hasn’t got sick on our other jet boat trips maybe he’s still a bit sensitive after feeling ill for a while on the boat the other day. Having gone down river then up river we head down river again and Hubby fears he’s not going to be able to avoid throwing up. We stop down river again and we are all quizzed, where are we from (almost all Australians and one American with a Kiwi companion) and “Who has been on a jetboat before,
? First time? Last time?” We win with this being our third, but Hubby announces it is also his last.  Yeah, I think it might be my last too. I don’t think I need to do this again. I’m a bit surprised that I’m not really feeling the g-forces much and now I really get the supreme manoevrability of these boats I’m not getting the adrenaline rush as we narrowly miss the rocks such along the way. I contemplate the difference to the Rapids Jet out of Taupo. Riding the white water on the Rapids Jet is more exciting I think… but it was also my first jetboat ride… hmmm. Hard to tell…. But I settle on Rapids Jet being the most fun. Not that there’s anything wrong with the fun on the Shotoverjet! Unless you get sick of course.
So what now. Yeah yeah. We get the video pack. It’s well presented and quite fun and this is a landmark trip with Son. They’ve put some effort installing the camera system and having the photographer there etc. I don’t mind them making a return on it and they give us the digital versions online as well.  I also pick up a pair of those nice overgloves we wore on the Wanaka River Journeys trip. They make a real difference over the top of our merino mink gloves.  Son and I peruse the signed celebrity pictures on a wall. For some of those people I wonder how the staff knew who the heck they were. I shouldn’t have thought them household names.. like some guy who founded some company I’ve never heard of. Not a NZ company mind you.  What? Do these people announce who they are when they are booking? Does Shotoverjet google every passenger? Do they arrive with a security entourage in tow? It’s a mystery. 
So, what do you want to do for the rest of day I ask Son.  Eat. He replies. OK. Brunch it is. We’re off to Provisions of Arrowtown to test their sticky buns and other wares. Son and I go for the Provisions Muesli with greek yoghurt and fruit. Hubby goes for the prawn fettucine. Haha I KNEW he would order that! The pasta again arrives with about twice as much sauce as would be delicious. Seems to be the popular approach over here. There’s a flavour I can’t quite place in my muesli… is it the pepitos? .. Hmmm. Ah I know, it’s bran. Lots of bran in this muesli. The yoghurt is nice. That’s a pretty big complement because our local dairy at home does a very natural yoghurt (just milk and culture and a bit of honey to sweeten) that is a prize winner and consequently we’ve been ruined for having yoghurt from anywhere else. .. I hope you appreciate my refraining from a yoghurt rant…It’s taking some effort! Haha
Son and I also sample a sticky bun. It’s a swirl of croissant pastry with dried fruit in the middle, topped with a gooey caramel and slivered almonds. Nice… but it is a bit too cold for optimal appreciation… and the memory of that cinnamon swirl in Dunedin is very tough competition indeed.
So, what now? We’ve still got nearly three hours. Son elects to go for a drive out to Glenorchy along Lake Wakitipu. The driving is pleasant and the views along the way are likewise pleasant, until to come to a lookout with a gorgeous vista over the head of the lake. A must stop and it’s been worth the drive. We continue on a very short way past Glenorchy itself before we figure we’d better head back to the airport. The views on the return are better than the way out, and the sun is behind us which helps a lot. It’s been a lovely drive.
I ask son what his favourite part of the trip has been. He consideres for about three or four seconds. Doubtful Sound. He’d like to come back to Doubtful Sound some time. His overall comment is that he wouldn’t have done any of the things we’ve done if I hadn’t recommended them and he’s had a great time.  Another successful conversion of a kiwi skeptic!  I point out that if he does come back he still hasn’t done the South Island Loop that includes some of the most stunning scenery in the country… this trip has only been a taster. He nods, impressed. I must point out that a comment of “I’d like to come back” is very significant. Son does not really like travelling. He does travel, but it’s usually for the company rather than the destination or for work and it’s generally not his idea. In short, he’s a chip off the old block. Hubby’s mini-me… though I’m slowly converting Hubby J
So what for the rest of the day. I feel like driving back to Cardrona. I could handle revisiting our drive back from there.. but Hubby’s keen to head home for a coffee and see how he feels. Yeah. Better I just explore Arrowtown I think. He drops me off and I’ll walk home.
I start my exploration with a walk up and down the street, browsing the shops a little. They have a lot of high end warm clothing. I generally hate shopping, so this doesn’t take long, I’m half heartedly looking for kids clothes. The need to window shop is offset by the gorgeous streetscape. I LOVE Arrowtown. It’s just lovely. The tourist in me thinks that a car free policy in the main street would add to its charm.  I note the location of Saffron and Pesto.. and further along I wander in to check out the wool store. Lots of temptation here, but I have a heavy knitting program already so I resist.  I do find something I wasn’t expecting. They sell a series of murder mysteries, something after the style of Alexander McCall Smith, the author is Sally Goldenbaum and it is the seaside knitters mystery series. Irresistable.
I wonder what the time is.  Still time for a look at the museum. I wander in and browse there in the gift shop. Hmm. A novelization of the Larnach story. I’ll give that a go. I pay for book and $8 Museum entry and head on in. The top floor is well presented and covers the local history and prominent persons. I’m a bit tired and not really processing the detail very well. I wander downstairs. Goodness. Another outstanding effort with lots of recreated premises illustrating different topics. There’s a newspaper printing room, possibly the best schoolroom I’ve seen so far, a carpenters shop. The atmosphere is really helped by soundtracks for some of them. I reckon the people who recorded the soundtrack for the shanty pub had a great time in the process! There’s even a surprise or two along the way that make me laugh. Goodness me Kiwi’s put in the effort. This place is great. There’s many a local history society at home that would benefit from a visit to any of New Zealand’s small community museums.

It’s getting late and time to head home. Hubby’s been veging out. We relax together for a while and then we need to decide what (if anything) to do about dinner.  We decide to head in to Pesto. GOOD DECISION. We’re neither of us in need of much and we’d both like to keep it fairly simple. Hubby goes for the spaghetti and meatballs and I simply cannot resist the Chestnut and haloumi ravioli. Oh…. Sooo gooood. The mains are so good we cannot resist sampling the dessert. I’m happy to share a serve of Italian doughnuts, but hubby wants a serve of Zabaglione. Both were fabulous. Hubby suffers an extended period of my proclaiming how much I like Arrowtown. Great food, great ambience. I would love to return here. Even if it was for a few days without a car. I have read that Arrowtown can get very busy and congested with tourists. It’s not at the moment, so perhaps that’s made a difference for me, but Arrowtown joins Russell up on the Bay of Islands as my two favourite historic villages in NZ. Wonderful. Both very romantic places. 

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