The day starts with an early morning taxi to the airport. It's a smooth check in right up until I'm handed a letter from the airline detailing the chances of making it to Queenstown and the options available if we don't. The most likely, according to the security guy who appears to take a little too much pleasure in checking me for metal objects, is ending up back at Christchurch and getting on the bus.

I make my way to the gate more in hope than expectation, where I note the incoming aircraft is conspicuous by its absence. It turns up eventually and spits out some tired-looking passengers, which makes it our turn to try. This flight is full, but happily I have a window seat because the scenery for the hour long flight is spectacular. As we head south, the mountains protrude out of an opaque layer of what may be either fog or landscape.

It's all looking good as we gradually descend into the cloud with the mountains towering above us, and everything just goes white. We drop out of the fog over Lake Wakatipu and do a tight turn over the Frankton Arm of the lake to approach Queenstown Airport, giving great views of Queenstown. The runway has big drifts of snow visible piled up at the sides as the pilot plants us on the runway.

The airport isn't quite as tiny as Islay, but it's close. There's a shuttle to my accomodation which turns out to be an easy walk from town, so I leave my baggage with reception and walk down to the Adventure Capital of New Zealand.

It's a little cheesetastic, but it's also a reasonable way to orient yourself, so I head on up the gondola to the Skyline in the hope that the fog layer over the Remarkable Mountains (surely the finest name ever for a landscape feature) will lift. It's the same idea as the Rotorua Skyline - there are a couple of cement luge tracks down the mountain which aren't quite as extreme as they like to claim they are. The advanced track at Rotorua is much hairier.

My run down the scenic track is marred by a small child crashing spectacularly on a chicane in front of me. Happily I get to find out whether it's possible to down the length of the advanced one without braking (answer: no, you tip over on one of the corners).

During my time enjoying and photographing the scenery, I've been noticing a gradual stream of people flinging themselves off the mountain under a paraglider. I eventually crack and go to find out what the deal is.

It turns out they're offering tandem trips to the bottom, and more importantly, they have free beer vouchers for the nearest brewpub. I take them up on their offer.

There's a part of me is expecting this to be as terrifying as flinging myself off the bungy platform. But I'm ignoring it. And with good reason as it turns out - the experience is a long way from the bungy-related terror of swift and crunchy oblivion. It's more like a gentle stroll in the air between the mountains, and the pleasure of being released from the limit of two dimensions on the ground is surprisingly reminiscent of scuba diving. It's just very natural and comfortable dangling over Queenstown, and the pilot's thoughtfully brought along a camera on a stick to prove it.

Being New Zealand, he flings us around a bit to show what it can do, but in the main it's just chilled (and pretty chilly). The landing's also suitably laid back; a swoop down onto the school rugby pitch coming to a stop in a stall which allows me just to stand up. I'm grinning like a fool for the entire trip.

The gondola's closed for a function in the afternoon, so I don't get my return trip up. So the next job is to check out the brewpub. I'm on to my third pint before I remember I haven't used the voucher.

The other job for the day is to book a flight and cruise to Milford Sound for the morrow. The thought of getting up at six to spend eight hours on a bus getting to and from the Sound doesn't appeal.

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