This covers some time on from the 27th November. I’ve been a hard core camper apart from one night in Queenstown. The night of the 28th was a cold one. I actually woke up the night before due to it being cold, but my super duper sleeping bag held it’s own. The night of the 27th someone who’d upgraded actually gave me their sleeping bag so I had two and was so snug. When I finally woke up and there was actually a thin crust of ice on the tent.
So the 28th we travelled to Queenstown. There is an awful lot of travel to do, and it can get mighty slow with the old rickety (it feels rickety) bus and trailer that we have and we do tend to get quite soporific.
Queenstown is home of the holiday home of Peter Jackson, and quite rightly too. It apparently couldn’t cope with the influx of LOTR fans who came to Queenstown and used it as their base while gallivanting to LOTR locations around-about so the infrastructure has had to grow to support the tourism. It is also the adrenaline capital of NZ. I didn’t really believe that when I was told, but it is. Every other shop is a booking place for some high speed/adrenaline rush activity, and the ones between either sell food or beer or sell extortionate clothing.
I of course had to go on what has been termed a Lord of the Rings ‘safari’. This was a 4WD drive along to Glenorchy and into Paradise Valley. Stunning landscape pics to follow. Pardise Valley was used not only for LOTR but also for Narnia. Part of the valley is in Mount Aspiring National Park and is a southern beech rainforest. This was used for both Lothlorien but also the scenes where Frodo and the others run from the Uruk-hai (or so we were told).
We spent some time exploring this wood, and finding bait traps for stoats and rats.
Further into Paradise Valley is the site of Isengard, which stands on a braided river system (the Dart river). You wouldn’t think so in the film, but the surrounding mountain peaks match the film still we were shown. Apparently the guide who took us out there said he has actually been asked if Isengard itself was actually built there. Methinks the locals would’ve had something to say about that.
On the 29th we left the buzz of Queenstown and headed to a bush camp on the shores of Lake Wanaka, at Boundary Creek (try finding that on a map!). The sandflies here were every bit as bad as those at Hollyford. They ensured that we ate our breakfast really quick, packed up and left promptly.
Coffee stop at Mataroa (rally not sure about the spelling) and then onto the Blue Pools where I managed to spear my thumb on some wire. These are glacially fed pools along some rivers – very pure water, very clear and very cold. One the way to the pools though we had to walk through some lovely rainforest and saw a very tame rock wren.
The 30th found us camping near the beach at Okuru, having come through the Haas pass. We had a beach bonfire which we kept going and alothough I headed to bed at 1am (ish), someone stayed on the beach enjoying the fire, the stars and the sea until 4am.