Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Botswana Butchery

After an exhausting afternoon's rafting, we were booked into what appears to be the best restaurant in Queenstown - Botswana Butchery. We hadn't thought far enough ahead to bring smart clothes, so turned up in t-shirts and shorts. But Queenstown's a pretty informal kinda place, and in fact we weren't the only ones so attired - although a few people had put on long trousers and shirts.

Botswana Butchery
As the name suggests, meat is the main order of the day here. We started with duck livers (me) and rabbit risotto (Nicola), then both went for Wakanui eye fillet, with pinot noir & thyme sauce (me) green peppercorn sauce (Nicola). Were they good? They were bloody marvellous! We (I) wanted pudding, but by then we were stuffed (the starters had been quite rich), so I had a coffee and we called it a night there.

Kawarau River Rafting

Back to Queenstown again on Friday - we're wearing a groove in the Gibbston Highway - we first headed to the Skyline gondola for a ride to the top. We were intending to have lunch there before the afternoon's activities, but it was fully booked, so we admired the scenery instead:

Overhead, tandem parachute jumps were being launched - think we'll give that a try next time we're in Queenstown:

After stopping in the café for a tea and coffee, we headed back down into town to find a bite to eat before setting out to find the Queenstown Rafting shop on Shotover Street, to begin our white-water adventure.

The bus drove us out of town to their centre, where we changed into wetsuits and were issued with hard hats and lifejackets. Properly attired, we then took another ½-hour bus ride to our starting point. We were then split into groups, largely based on linguistic ability of the guides - there were a fair few Asian groups travelling with us as well as a French family. Our guide, Chief, gave us the safety briefing and basics of rafting, then in we got and away we went! The Kawarau River is graded 2/3 - most of the rapids are grade 2 with one 3 at the end. One of the first things we did was take a dip in the river - after the bus ride in 26° heat in wetsuits, we wanted to cool down! The river is icy cold, being mainly meltwater from the snowfields above, but you soon get used to it in a wetsuit. The biggest challenge is getting back into the boat. We made out way down through the rapids, which were quite fierce in places, but without the big drops that we'd had when we went on the Barron River in Queensland - so us "old hands" felt quite blasé about it! the final stretch is a 400 metre grade 3, which was pretty cool! We were slightly hindered by one of our boatmates who didn't seem keen on getting his paddle wet, which meant we were a bit unbalanced on each sides' rowing strength.

After the final stretch we got our boats ashore and stacked them on the trailer, and were then bussed back to the centre where we showered and changed, before getting a ride back into town. I was talking to the driver who took us back into town about the Shotover River rafting, which I had deliberately not booked as it's graded 4/5, which can be pretty hairy stuff...but from what she was saying, it sounds like it's not as scary as we thought, and she reckoned that as long as we didn't go in Spring, when the meltwater is at its highest and the river is in full spate, we should be OK...so next time we're in Queenstown we'll give that a go as well.