Spoiler alert: Luckily, there was no yakking while kayaking!
We eagerly arose at 6am, hopped on our bus and were greeted by Rosie, our driver and guide for the day. She tried her best to keep everyone entertained and informed throughout the drive, but the bus was a tough and silent crowd for most of the way. After picking up a couple more FunYak-ers, we took the scenic drive over to Glenorchy, which is a very popular route and a “must do” in the forums. Attempting that drive on our own would have been pointless in retrospect, considering how beautiful the sun and cloud kissed landscape looked. We probably would have barely made it in time for our appointment.
Once at the FunYak base, we suited up into our gear: wetsuits, water shoes, fleeces, a jacket and life vest. All in all, it was a tight outfit (pardon the fun). Every layer helped stay relatively comfortable in the cool water. In fact, it was so cold that our driver had a permanent snot-stash lingering as he turned to drop gems about the importance of gold and jade in the area’s history.
We darted over to the base of the river where we boarded our high speed jet boat. We feared nausea and the unlikely occurrence that we’d hit a rock during one of the 360 degree spins, but the sight of the mountains along the river valley and thrill of the boat ride soon dispelled any apprehension..the heated metal handle bars were also a warm touch, defrosting our frozen smiles along the way.
After about an hour, it was clear that we merely skimmed the surface as we reconvened with the rest of our tour group, who traveled by truck with our inflatables. They gave us a quick kayaking lesson before we took the paddles into our own hands. Let’s just say it looked way easier in our tutorial and after a bit of a struggling start, we developed our own system for maneuvering our funyak (read: out with the Oxford/Cambridge form fail, in with the Tourette syndrome-esque instructional yammering). We also were welcomed by the plethora of sand flies –those little buggers! – whose relentless bites made it extremely difficult to keep paddling while also taking in the mountains and valleys around us. We made it out alive and grew a lot closer as a result (nyaw).
We floated down the river, took a break for lunch, and continued until we hit Paradise Valley. This place certainly lived up to its name. It is also the home to various scenes from LOTR and numerous other movies and commercials. We wish we had more time to hang out in paradise, but we had to pack up our funyaks and make the journey back to Queenstown.
Our evening was spent enjoying our homemade five-ingredient tuna casserole (our kitchen is awesome), some champagne (complimentary gift in celebration of our honeymoon), and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The surreality of art coming to life was a perfect way to close out the evening.