The Road to Recovery for Queenstown’s Quintessential Settings
Ranjit Shergill / February 12, 2021 / 0 comments
Queenstown’s intention to preserve its status as one of the most visited tourist towns in New Zealand is going to be aided by a more comprehensive Covid-19 testing regime at its airport, ports and maritime borders. Therefore, more visitors could be experiencing arguably the most panoramic backdrop of any air taxi ramp in the world.
No complacency at all costs
There have been no new Covid-19 cases in Queenstown and indeed the South Island since April 2020. However, it is important to note that a recent spike in cases in the North Island has caused a need to reinforce compliance measures in the south of the country.
The Southern District Health Board (responsible for the region’s healthcare) has reiterated that their Covid-19 case-free results were due to mandates in place to manage Covid-19 compliance implementation at major regional events (including concerts) and for the likely influx of tourists during the peak holiday season.
The Director of the Southern District Health Board, Lisa Gestro, said: ‘‘It is imperative that the ongoing requirement to maintain sufficient surveillance in our community, as well as undertake the required level of port and border testing, alongside the need to deliver regular pop-ups in high tourism areas, such as Queenstown, means that we need to transition Covid-19 testing into more of a business-as-usual approach.’’
Cost-efficient strategy going forward
The absence of Covid-19 cases in the South Island in the past nine months has resulted in a reduction in funding for testing regimes. Furthermore, health service personnel that were previously involved in the Covid-19 testing implementation have now had to relinquish their duties. This is so they can facilitate other health departments in catching up with their oversubscribed waiting lists.
Furthermore, the travel corridor between Australia (another example of a country with successful Covid-19 implementation) and the South Island has resulted in the need to reassess Covid-19 testing requirements for travellers between the two regions. This includes testing implementation plans for Queenstown Airport that will require further manpower as and when such initiatives are rolled out.
When it comes to the viewing Queenstown, New Zealand, in freefall, the ethos of ‘Live More, Fear Less’ comes to the party!
Indeed, I refer to the highest Bungy jump platform in New Zealand, The Nevis, at the small matter of 500 feet tall. The build up to the dropping platform begins at ground level in the town centre and you have several hours to manage your nerves, excitement or a combination of both.
Upon completion, you can say that you have experienced Queenstown in its entirety by fulfilling this obligation to jump. Furthermore, on completion you are provided with a certificate and t-shirt to proudly and continuously display your achievement to the outside world!
One food for thought, is that on the Bungy platform, do not fear the height you have ascended or will descend to, but rather pick a reference point upon the vast mountainous landscape, to be able to bask in the glory of the panoramic views that await!
Whilst worms do not look all too pleasing on the eye, give them a ray of light and suddenly you can’t get your eyes off them! Indeed, the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are home to the unique species of worms known as ‘Arachnocampa luminosa’ that intermittently light up and receive undivided attention from the human eye. Indeed, the saying ‘keep your eyes peeled’ applies quite literally as one must look up at the cave ceiling and continue to stare in anticipation of a sudden scattering of turquoise as the worms radiate their light. The image it depicts is not too dissimilar to what one might experience during Northern Lights, except with the Glowworms the likelihood of seeing them light up is significantly higher! Glowworms appear to seek attention and when the crowds of tourists pass by their territory, they like to let them know they are being watched.
The journey to the Waitomo Caves starts in a wet suit. At this point you are politely reminded not to ‘relieve’ yourself inside your wet suit and instead ensure you make yourself comfortable prior to the cave expedition. You have been warned! On your way towards the entrance of Waitomo Caves, you will walk past a plethora of sheep farms, which defines a huge part of New Zealand’s identity. The tour starts with the joys of ploughing through ice cold water and crawling up and down inconsistent rocks. Thereafter the real fun begins as you get yourself into a swim ring and lay back as it is now time for the Glowworms to fulfil their part in the journey through Waitomo Caves.
Whilst floating down the water, there were two Danish girls in my tour group who decided to sing a rather tranquil sounding song in their own dialect, which added to the ambience of the surroundings. Indeed, all tour members heads remained firmly upwards awaiting the performance of the tour courtesy of the Glowworms. And boom, the cave ceiling explodes into 50 shades of green. This was complimented with 50 whispers of ‘wow’ from tour group members. Unfortunately cameras aren’t allowed in the Waitomo Caves, although it is probably a blessing as it ensures that you view the Glowworm effect through your own eyes only.
In the latter stages of the tour you have the opportunity to test your body flexibility and susceptibility to small confined spaces. The tour guides led us to the smallest hole in the cave and suffice to say that one can imagine what is must have been like for ‘los 33’ – the Chilean miners who found themselves in such a predicament for so many months!
Book onto the most popular combo package, Glowworm Cave & Ruakuri Cave by clicking here
Quite simply worm your way through the caves to witness an instant glow!