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Travels: Queenstown, Dart River, New Zealand

March 2, 2019

Next morning it was up bright and early again to catch a bus – this time for fun!

The clouds in the surrounding hills and mountains were spectacular.
They hugged the land and the mountaintops at different levels.

Funny story – We had to get to the tour office across town to catch our bus to Glenorchy where the day’s adventure would start. This fabulous tour company said they’d send a complimentary taxi for us which was appreciated. It would be  a looong walk there.

The taxi picked us up, carried us up the hill from our lakefront room to the top of the street, and dropped us off at the bus stop on the street about a one minute walk from our room albeit climbing stairs the whole way. Apparently the bus comes through town and will pick us up right at the stop across from our hotel. We all laughed at that.

We caught the bus and rode up around the beautiful and long lake Wakapitu  to Glenorchy and got all kitted out in fleece, wetsuits, jackets and life vests for a day on the Dart River. It’s pretty cool that we have fabric technology that will keep us warm in this cold water.

A jet boat ride onto the lake included some fun spins and fast fast skidding along the top of the river – think “drifting – as in the motorsport – but in a boat. The jet boats are designed to run in water as shallow as 4″. It was a pretty short 30 minute ride upriver. Then into our Funyaks – two to three person inflatable kayaks. Stable enough that the majority of our party, who were absolutely inexperienced on the water, were able to manage. Gotta say, having Ethan steering was a pleasure. He’s an experienced rafter and kayaker so we could zoom around anywhere we wished to.

This was our lunch break stop. The mountains were spectacular and imposing. We passed numerous Lord of the Rings film sites  including Isengard, Fangorn Forest, Beorn’s Realm, the peak where Gandalf fought the Balrog, the orc battle at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring.

This amazing little side slot canyon was phenomenally beautiful.

Back to the movies. I don’t get excited to see film sites here because of the fame of the movie or the people where were here. Peter Jackson includes multiple hours of “special features” for every hour of film that went into the theater. My kids and I have watched and rewatched those “special features” for years. They show every aspect of how these movies were made; from story development to Tolkien’s history, to animation, filming, post production processes, and prop making. Oh, the prop making!!!!! Hand woven tapestry’s to dress a set that took the maker months to create but will only be on screen for seconds. The craftwork and loving detail in every single set is mind boggling. 

But the scenery of New Zealand shown in these features is described and shown and featured by people who have a deep love for and connection to the land. You can’t help but fall in love with it. And we did. And THAT, my friends, is why Ethan and I are here. And probably half the tourists who support a big chunk of NZ’s economy have fallen in love with these remarkable landscapes because of the way Peter Jackson has shared his love of this place with the world.

What a truly amazing experience! The picture of Ethan resting is really just us – helping deflate and pack up the Funyaks.

Back to the hotel… get a quick shower and change and off to another lecture that night. I didn’t get a picture but what a lovely group of women. At each place I lectured on this trip quilters traveled up to two hours to come join us. And the venues were fun too. The Queenstown lecture venue was a community center with rugby and cricket going on outside, a view of planed taking off out the window, indoor soccer happening next door, and a really lovely lecture room with it’s own AV setup. Thank you Queenstown for an amazing couple of days.

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