When I arrived in Queenstown for the very first time, it was New Year. The streets were filled with drunk Brits and I was being followed by a harmless but irritatingly persistent fellah sporting a mullet and a Hawaiian shirt. I quickly decided that I couldn’t possibly live in the tourist-trap-town and was happy to head off to peaceful Wanaka a few days later.
During the eight happy months I then lived in Queenstown, I heard a lot about the infamous Queenstown Bubble. That, once you’d spent a certain amount of time in the town, you’d get sucked in by a fantastic bunch of friends who spend all winter on the mountain, all summer on the beach and while away spare time after work doing extreme sports while ordinary people would be watching TV.
A regular in the cafe where I used to work told me he’d come to Queenstown on a spur-of-the-moment two week holiday. He’d popped round to his Mother’s house in his hometown in Ireland and asked her to look after his beloved pet dog for a fortnight. That was four years ago. He never got around to going back, and his poor Mother is still taking care of the dog.
I therefore should not be surprised to find myself back in Queenstown after a month of travelling, despite having a flight booked to and a visa ready for, Australia.
After re-locating a few times since coming to New Zealand, it was hart-warming to arrive somewhere and be greeted by lots of friendly, familiar faces. When I arrived back late on a warm Saturday evening, I was picked up at the bus stop and had dinner made for me complete with a bottle of local Pino Noir. The following day, I went to one of my favourite coffee shops with my infamous partner in crime (aka Charlie, my former workmate) who greeted me by shouting WELCOME HOME in my ears, startling several tourists nearby.
I’ve ended up moving in with Charlie, too. We live in a wooden cabin in the Holiday Park, originally intended as a holiday home (or ‘batch’ as the Kiwis say), but now one of the many inhabited year-round by the hordes of people increasingly calling Queenstown home. I’m not sure I could live here in winter (my visa expires in May, so I will be/should be gone by then anyway), but there’s an advantage to living in a hut vaguely clad together when the days are comfortably reaching 30 degrees.
So the weather’s great, the mountain views are still stunning and the new job leaves me time to get a little more writing done. But it’s the people that make me thrilled to be back here in the Queenstown Bubble.
As for the extreme sports, the snowboard has been returned to its owner and there’s no snow left to play with. So, guided my a bunch of very enthusiastic daring people, I’m now on the look out for a bike, will be giving downhill biking a go soon and am training for a bit of open water swimming. Oh, I’m back boxing too. And if the sports don’t kill me, the beautiful wine will. Just don’t tell my Mother what I’m up to.
It’s a good job the view is good, the windows take up most of my new room!