Let’s give it a go!: Fear Factory haunted house

Why? It was a rainy afternoon in Queenstown, and apparently the canyon swing wasn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for one day.

How did it go? It was much creepier and less cheesy than we were expecting. I don’t want to describe it in detail, because that would spoil it, but it was disorienting and interactive. We had to find our own way through the house in the dark while ghosts could be anywhere around us. They were listening to us and responding, too.

We had a nice chat with the owner at the end, and it was interesting to hear how she and her family decided to set up a haunted house. They’d only been open for about six months.

Would you do it again? I’d certainly try this kind of haunted house again. Even this one wouldn’t be the same a second time, so it would probably still be fun.

Let’s give it a go!: Luge


Why? When you buy your tickets to take the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown, they really encourage you to buy luge tickets too. We weren’t sure if it was worth doing, but we thought we’d give it a go, so we just got one luge ride each.

How did it go? It was more fun than we expected. For your first ride, you have to take the slower, scenic track to get used to controlling the luge. That was fun enough that we bought a second ride so we could try the faster track, and that was even better. The course was long enough and had enough twists and hills to be interesting, and the view was great.

Would you do it again? Yes! I wished we’d gone for one of the multiple-ride deals after all.

Beckie listens to Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Why did you read this book? Another hasty audiobook choice.

Has Jeremy read it? No.

42-word review: Ugh. This was similar to The Anatomist’s Apprentice, but worse. It began with an hour-and-a-half synopsis of Pride and Prejudice and ended with another rehash from Darcy’s viewpoint. The remainder was largely plodding “as-you-know”-type exposition, plus ridiculous tie-ins to other Austen works.

Overall rating:  1 gentleman (out of 5)


Let’s give it a go!: Paragliding [Beckie only]


Why? We kept seeing paragliders over Queenstown, and I kept thinking about what a great view they must have (Queenstown is incredibly beautiful). We went parasailing in the Bahamas a couple of years ago, and I loved the feeling of flying, but I thought that paragliding involved jumping off a cliff, so it would be too terrifying. However, we got the gondola up to the top of the hill overlooking Queenstown and saw some paragliders taking off. Turns out, the sail is inflated before you leave the ground, so there’s no terrifying free fall! After I saw that, I wanted to try it, and Jeremy ended up giving me the flight as my Christmas present.

How did it go? It was fantastic! I only had to run a few steps before we were in the air and flying. We rode the air currents up way above our starting point, and the view was incredible. I felt completely safe even when the pilot did some swooping tricks (I told him I’d done the canyon swing the day before, so he did the paragliding version of a swing). I think I was lucky to get a longer flight than some, but I would happily have stayed in the air even longer.

Would you do it again? Absolutely.


Let’s give it a go!: Canyon swing

Swing 01 - Multi [No Border].jpg

Why? We were in Queenstown, the reputed adventure capital of the world, so we thought we should face our fear and try at least one adventurous activity. We really wanted to try zorbing, which seemed more fun than dangerous, but it turns out that’s only available on the North Island. We kept seeing ads for the Shotover Canyon Swing, and it was highly rated on tripadvisor, so we decided that if we were going to do something adventurous, that would be our choice. The decision to actually do it took a lot longer and involved several trips into and out of the storefront before we finally bought our tickets.

How did it go? It was terrifying, but I was glad to have done it, and the swing part at the end of the free fall was actually fun. It didn’t quite hit me how terrifying it was going to be until we were all harnessed in and the operators were trying to get us to step up to the edge. They kept asking cheery questions about where we were from etc to distract us, and we just made up answers because we were too preoccupied by our impending fall to our deaths. I was muttering about backing out, and I think Jeremy would have joined me, but the operators didn’t give us a chance to reconsider. They kept up their chatter and convinced us to step up to the edge “just” to take a couple of photos, and next thing we knew, we were falling to the bottom of the canyon. The free fall went by so quickly that I don’t remember it, but it transitioned smoothly into swinging across the canyon, which was fun.

Would you do it again? They actually give you the option to do a second jump within the next day or so for a fraction of the price. If I’d considered it for a few more minutes, I probably would have gone again while we were there (and done a different style of jump–you could hang upside down, or sit in a chair, for example). Unfortunately, I took my harness off while I was still thinking about how terrifying the initial jump had been. I did keep thinking about going back the next day, and if it hadn’t been a bus-ride away, I might have done it. Instead, I did something much more fun, which will be the subject of the next Let’s give it a go! post. I don’t think there’s any way Jeremy would do it again.