There are all kinds of fun to be had in New Zealand. Some of it is crazy (which I’ve written about in a previous blog), but other stuff is tamer but still fun. The first fun activity was Fear Factory in Queenstown.
I adore Halloween activities, and when I live in the States, I fill up my September and October weekends with all kinds of fall and Halloween fun. I missed all the Halloween haunted houses this past autumn, because I currently live in Korea. However, I had a chance to rectify that a bit in Queenstown. I didn’t even know about this until I arrived in town, but Queenstown has a year-round haunted house called Fear Factory. It is setup conveniently in the city center, and it is open from 1100 until “late.” Once I saw that, I knew I had to visit. I know haunted houses are supposed to be more fun with friends, but I was traveling alone (like usual). Like so many other things in my life, I had to make a choice of doing something alone, or not doing it at all. That was an easy one for me. Plus I’m used to going to haunted houses alone, because I never had anyone to go with me in the States. I decided to wait until after dark to go, because it just seemed off to emerge from a dark, scary haunted house into bright, shining daylight. Since it was summer down there, that meant waiting until after 2100. But so I entered. Not surprisingly, I got a few “You’re so brave for doing this alone” comments, but soon I was off to get my ass scared off.
This haunted house is set up a bit differently than others I’ve visited. Most of the ones in the States I’ve been to, have a series of macabre scenes interspersed with occasional “jump out” scares. This haunted house is almost entirely in pitch dark. I made my way through the maze by feeling the walls and following a small red light. Most of the scares were psychological through a combination of occasional lights, creepy voices designed to unsettle me, loud noises and creepy touches. That is also another difference from the haunted houses in the States. The actors are allowed to touch you at Fear Factory. Like I said, it’s more creepy touching than anything truly dangerous, like fingers brushing along my arm, the back of my neck, or my lower leg. It’s definitely unsettling, because I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear them taunting me with my name. The tension was ramped up for me, just because I KNEW something was going to happen, but I didn’t know what or when. Based on the sheer amount of screaming I did (I scare and unsettle easily in these type of scenarios), I definitely got my money’s worth. At $29 NZ per adult, it is not a cheap thrill. But if you love haunted houses and aren’t paralyzed by fear of the dark, I suggest you experience it. Since it is all in complete darkness, your own fears and imagination amplify whatever you experience in the house for creepy, good fun.
A different sort of fun was to be had at the Queenstown Wine Experience. This was my final evening in Queenstown, and I decided to end it in a semi-classy way. This is like the best, most comprehensive winery tour wrapped up into one location. It’s in the city center, and it’s a great activity for the entire evening or just a precursor to dinner or a nightcap. This place gives you the opportunity to try over 80 wines from nearby wine regions. The available wines to try were pretty much every variety offered in New Zealand. The setup at Queenstown Wine Experience is pretty cool. I arrived and received a wine card. From there, I could try as many wines as I wanted. The choices were to try a taste, a half glass, or a full glass of any available wine. All I had to do was stick the wine card into the machine, select which wine and size to try, and it magically filled my glass. I tried a wide variety of wines, like pinot noir, sauvingon blanc, pinot gris, Riesling, Guwurtztraminer, and a couple dessert wines. I ordered a very tasty smorgasbord of local meats, cheeses, bread and olive oil to accompany the taste parade. I had the opportunity to order wines for delivery home, but I elected not to, since I would have had to send the wine home to the States and not have it for available enjoyment back in Korea. If you love wine, and want to try a wide variety of wines, in the comfort of a big soft chair, this is the place for you.
My last bit of tame fun was a visit to Freddy’s Ice House at my last night in Auckland. It used to be called Minus 5 during my last trip to Auckland (I guess they’re under new management). There is a bar by the same name of Minus 5 in Queenstown, and I did visit there during my first trip to Queenstown eight years ago. This bar is pretty much the way it is described. It is a small bar in a large freezer where everything is made out of ice, including the glasses. I received a big, warm parka and some gloves and it was go time. The bar reminded me of the White Witch of Narnia’s palace where everything was frozen solid in ice. Price of admission ($25 NZ) buys you one mixed cocktail of your choice and all the time you want to stay in the bar to relax and play. I was there on my own, so I didn’t spend the entire evening there. This is probably more of a fun group activity, but it is enjoyable on your own.
This pretty much ended my month long New Zealand adventure, and it was good.