Queenstown, NZ – Monday, Jan 20th, 2014

Monday started off with the fire alarms going off at 9:30am and the hostel being evacuated.  Knowing I went to bed early, it’s funny watching a bunch of hungover or still drunk 20 year olds that early in the morning deciding if they want to go back to bed or just stay up.  I stayed up and took the Skyline Gondola up the mountain.  I have a nice view of the Gondola from my balcony.

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It’s easy to get to the ramp that takes you up the hill to the Gondola, just down the sidewalks of Queenstown but after that it gets much more difficult.  There are a series of switch back ramps that get steeper as you go.  I made it up the first ramp then I asked a guy from France for help, who was going to the Gondola too.  After you get up the ramps there is a steep hill to get up to the Gondola.  I had help getting up this hill as well.

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After getting my ticket I headed to get on a Gondola car.  The cars are very small with bench seats on either side of the car.  The opening to the car is no more than 25″ wide.  My chair is only 22″ wide.  There is a big step to get up to the car, about 8″ high.  The Gondola staff had to stop the car and help bump me up the step.  It’s about a 3 minute ride to the top.  I got off the car by going down backwards down the step with help from the staff.    There is an elevator up to a small area where wheelchair users can go without help.  This area is flat but there is a big up hill to another level and a big downhill to a lower level.  I was able to go down to the lower level without help but would not be able to make it back up.

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There are a few activities people can do on top – luge, mountain biking and hiking.  After about 2 hours I headed back down the Gondola.  I took a short cut and went through the bike exit which is on the lower level and takes you right to where you get off and on the Gondola.  I did this so I did not have to get back up the hill.  After exiting the Gondola at the bottom on the mountain I went down the first of the steep hills.  Instead of going back down the switch back ramps I went down Man St to Shotover St. that got me to where I started.  This is a little bit longer but not as steep as the switch back ramps.

I then started looking into various activities to do in Queenstown.  I was emailing ZipTrek zip lining before I left and stopped in to see if they were able to make progress on making it accessible.  They have not made progress on accessibility yet, this was very disappointing.  In the same building was SkyTrek paragliding and hang gliding.  I talked with them about paragliding and made arrangements to go Tuesday morning.  They had no issues with taking me paragliding.  My tires have been a little low on air and the very nice people at Blue Lizard Bike and Surf Shop where great to pump my tires up for me.  Next, I stopped by Off Road Adventures about a 4 x 4 trip to Skippers Canyon, an old gold mining gorge north of Queenstown.  They have no problem taking me but need a two person minimum to take the tour.  I hope they have other people sign up for the tour before I leave Jan 29th.
I had a few beers at Atlas Beer Cafe on Steamer Wharf before having dinner at Pog Mahones, an Irish Pub.  Steamer Wharf has an elevator to the second floor where more restaurants are located.  Pog Mahones does have an accessible bathroom on the ground floor but when I was there more abled body peopled used it instead of going up stairs to the non-accessible bathroom.

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