And no, we didn’t go bungy jumping.

April 3, 2011 Comments Off on And no, we didn’t go bungy jumping.

227 km

Breakfast in Wanaka was amazing because it involved a delicious pumpkin chocolate muffin. Mmm.

A guy at the hotel had recommended that we avoid Queenstown and have lunch in nearby Arrowtown, which is supposed to be just unbearably quaint and adorable. It sort of was, but it was mostly a main street of very upscale tourist shops and expensive-looking cafés that weren’t open for lunch yet, anyway. I found a very pretty sheepskin coat that I might have considered buying if it hadn’t been $3,000. That’s the kind of place it was. And those kinds of stores make me uncomfortable. I feel like the salespeople fix me with their laser X-ray vision as soon as I walk in the door and can see that I have no intention of buying anything that costs more than $50, which is probably a single glove or a fancy chocolate bar or something. I feel so much pressure to act like I regularly spend thousands of dollars on luxury clothing that I barely even see what I’m looking at. These are the situations where I need Kelly. Kelly is an expert at disdaining salespeople, the famous example being Munich, where we found a ridiculous shop that sold crazy-looking costumes which were very funny, and the salesladies hated us. Kelly was cool as a cucumber, but I laughingly asked how much a tiny gold lamé dress with a purple feather ruff was, and the woman looked daggers at me and replied, “Es ist sehr teuer” (“It is very expensive”). I was completely cowed and made Kelly come away with me, and when she found out why I had left, she wanted to go back on purpose to spite the woman and give her a hard time, which would have been satisfying, but I couldn’t handle it and instead impulse-bought a beautiful skirt which I love to this day. The point is, Kelly can deal with salespeople and I can’t. And even though the man selling the $3,000 coat was very nice and helped me try it on and chatted with us about what we thought of New Zealand, I felt guilty for letting him down when we left without buying anything.

Queenstown is very pretty, which I wasn’t expecting because it’s the South Island headquarters for extreme sports. The array of activity pamphlets is eye-popping:  skydiving, bungy jumping, jetboating, rock climbing, swinging over a canyon, whitewater rafting, river surfing, skiing, canyoning, whitewater sledging, paragliding, abseiling, mountaineering, hang-gliding, and mountain biking. We did none of that, to the great disappointment of every Kiwi who found out we’d gone through Queenstown. As it was, we walked along their nice (but windy) waterfront and ate fish and chips. There were two good statues: a moa and a man with a sheep, which I thought was very funny.

That is all we did in Queenstown, and then we pushed on and drove to Te Anau, which is where everyone bases themselves for trips into Fiordland. We walked around downtown and got bug repellent, and Simon bought the most kick-ass raincoat ever. It is black and relatively classy-looking, with neat little Maori-ish designs on the bottom. It was nicer-looking and cheaper than the ones at the outdoor store we’d been considering. Victory for Simon. It was here that we discovered the magic phrase for dealing with enthusiastic Kiwis who were invariably crestfallen we weren’t going to do this or see that, and blisteringly disparaged the other island when we mentioned going there: when they express their disappointment, you smile and say, “We’ll do it next time.” Their faces light up, and they say, “Oh, yes! You absolutely must do it when you come back!” and they’re so excited that you like their country enough to return, it’s positively adorable. Speaking as someone who has been disdained all over Europe, it’s wonderful to feel welcome as a tourist.

[back-posted]

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