21 October, 2013 – Middle Earth
Queenstown, New Zealand

This morning, I planned to walk to the top of Queenstown Hill.  I thought about trying to get up there in time for sunrise, but as I’d never been there before (obviously) I didn’t want to try the walk in the dark.  Probably a good plan.  It was not for the faint of heart!  It was a strenuous walk up (at least for me) and, because it was steep, going down was a bit scary in parts.  And I was even stopped by a few goats!

The view is worth it.

Queenstown Hill - Full

At the top, I met up with an older gentleman who walked this hill everyday.  He told me a bit about it, and showed me a great message, written with rocks, below.  I guess it often changes, depending on the time of year, or who’s messed with it.  “I love you mum” at Mother’s Day; “I love you mum and dad” at Father’s Day, etc.  I love it.  It’s perfect and kinda romantic, even if I’m not the romantic type.  After my hill-mate started back down, I took a load of photos of the scenery and even myself, and tried some panoramas.
I was back at the hotel in time to relax, have a snack and meet the van for my afternoon tour that I’d booked the night before.   I took the “Discovery of the Rings” tour of the Wakatipu region.  I’d hoped to take a different, even more scenic tour, but as the weather wasn’t going to be very good, this one was suggested.

ArrowtownWe saw a lot of great scenery (how could you not, in this area?) and some Lord of the Rings shooting locations.  It was interesting to hear some behind the scenes information on how some things were shot.  The tour was not overloaded with LotR information as I was the most fan-y of all on the tour… and I’m not a huge LotR fan. Most people were just there for the scenery, and that was just fine with.  One spot I was most interested in seeing, on this tour was the rocky riverbed where Arwen turns back the Ringwraiths.  This is usually where the tour stops for a picnic lunch.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate.  The river was so high that, while we did drive to the spot, we didn’t get out of the jeep and certainly didn’t stop there for supper.  I barely even got a good photo out of the window.  :(  Safety first though!  Here’s a video I took to show how bumpy it was.  I thought it was ‘fun’ driving through ‘rivers’ in Iceland.  Those were practically paved roads, comparatively!

We had a great time, saw some great (through foggy and rainy) scenery, learned a bit more about the movies and some random, large, land owners that you’ve probably never heard of.  Just a couple of guys named Mutt Lange and Peter Jackson.  NBD.  Jackson is working with local groups to form activity trails through his land with the understanding that people will stay off the rest of it.

Can’t wait to try some other tours of theirs… you know… next time I go there.

There’s an event that takes place in the area in winter, sort of a relay: One participant skis down one hill and takes another who bikes into Queenstown.  #3 kayaks across part of Lake Wakatipu and tags the final participant who runs up the next peak.

Wrap-Up

Impressions: Can I go back now, please?

Daily Casualties: My brand new $175 backpack purchased in Rotorua.  Lost in the tour van.  Status: Returned a few minutes later, after calling the company.  Sigh.  I even checked my seat when I was dropped off at the hotel!  But I forgot that, at some point during the tour, we put all the bags in the front seat.

Walked: Can you believe I left the pedometer at the hotel!? Again!  But I think about 9 miles.

The Rest of the story:

Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
– Day 123 – The Journey
– Day 4 – Auckland
– Day 5 – North Island Culture
– Day 6 – Rotorua
– Day 7 – Wellington
– Day 8 – Wellington
– Day 9 & 10 – South Island Scenery
Day 11 – Queenstown
– Day 12 – Middle Earth
Day 13 – The Last Day
Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
Day 15 – Alice Springs
Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments

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