Glamping in New Zealand Jeep style
Last February 6th was New Zealand Day also known as Waitangi Day, which reminded me of my recent trip to one of the most beautiful outdoor adventure places and is a bucket list for nature seekers. We flew New Zealand’s adventure capital, to Queenstown last December to try out the all-new Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. Our timing was perfect, had we arrived a week before, the nearby Lake Wakatipu swelled and the streets of downtown Queenstown was flooded.
Our first stop was to check in at Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa and the quaint and rustic town center was bustling with tourists and being the country’s adventure capital, these travel agencies offer various tour packages for adventure seekers from skiing, fishing, sky diving, camping, mountain biking, bungee jumping and just about any other activity for adventure tourism. With only just a few days, we had to make the most of our stay there. On our first evening, we were greeted by local Maori tribesmen and they performed their ceremonial “war dance” just before our first dinner. The “warrior” theme was very appropriate considering it was a Jeep Gladiator ride-and-drive experience.
From Queenstown we drove off to our campsite destination passing through Cardrona Valley with some two dozen Jeep Gladiator pickups and along the way, we engaged in some rock crawling and river fording with our very capable Jeep Gladiators in the off-road trails of Mt. Aspiring. Rated at 285 horsepower and 353 Nm of torque, it ably crawled over the most challenging terrains with the trail masters guiding us along the way. The 250mm ground clearance and 760mm water fording capacity was all we need to trek through mild-to-medium levels of off-road obstacles without any modification done on these production Gladiator models.
We parked our Jeeps near a riverbed and we were picked up by two helicopters that flew us directly to Avalanche Camp. Our campsite sits behind a glacier-capped mountain range and is one of New Zealand’s highest peaks. The park is known for its spectacular view of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. There were several hiking trails in the area for nature seekers and the crystal clear water can be taken directly from a nearby stream. At the campsite, we each had our individual teepee-shaped tents where we camped for the night. Our main hospitality tent was specially prepared for the evening festivities and a chef was specially flown in to prepare another sumptuous meal complete with flowing wines and local craft beer.
It must have been 5 degrees Celsius the night before so we had to wear thermals and layered clothing. Some of us went out for white water rafting at the Matukituki River and because of the melting snow and recent rainwaters, the water levels were higher than usual which added to the excitement of the rafters. One the way back to Queenstown, we passed by Cardrona Hotel. Established in 1863, it is probably New Zealand’s most iconic hotel and one of the most photographed building facades.
The iconic Jeep Gladiator is scheduled to have its debut in the Philippines this summer and we will surely do a local Jeep adventure trek very soon.
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