|This is a real easy update so far.
We drove from Milford Sound back to Te Anau. At Te Anau we got fuel for the bus and then drove to Queenstown. It was dark so we couldn't stop for walks or photos. We watched "Scary Movie" on the ride and I am dumber for it. I checked back into Discovery Lodge and will stay in Queenstown until I do a whitewater rafting trip down the Shotover River and do a Lord of the Rings tour.
May 22nd. Didn't do anything exciting except spend money to book these trips. Like I said before, money evaporates from your wallet in this town.
May 23rd. Today was a chance for me to be a Lord of the Rings fan. I have read the books a couple of times and seen the movies, but I am not the most passionate LOTR fan ever. I went on a tour with Wanaka Sightseeing that was to include several movie locations, lunch, a chance to handle some props, and some other bonuses. We started the trip at around 10:00 and made our way to Deer Park Heights in the nearby suburb of Frankton. Many scenes were shot here but the most notable were the scenes in The Two Towers where the people of Rohan are fleeing to Helm's Deep and the Wargs attack. We saw the rock where Aragorn fell off the cliff which was probably the most notable sight and a few others. The area was a bit foggy and so it was difficult to place some of the scenes but still photos from the movie helped. We spent most of the morning exploring the locations found in Deer Park Heights and then went for a cafe lunch. It was fancy food so that place was out of character for me. After lunch we got a chance to handle some replica props from the movie. These included several weapons (Sting, Anduril (Aragorn's Sword), Eowen's sword, Narsil (Isildur's broken sword), Gimili's Axe (which is really heavy), Legolas' knives, Theoden's sword and Arwen's sword. We also has a replica of Gimli's helmet and an actual elvish cape that was used in the movie. This part of the tour was interesting and was a hit with most of the other 5 tour members. We then went to the Kawarau river (where the Aragonath statues were seen in the Fellowship), and to Arrowtown where several other scenes were shot from the Fellowship. I had a good time, but was not as passionate as the other participants so I maybe didn't take as much as they did. I enjoyed the scenery and will probably go on another Rings tour elsewhere if I have some time. (I took notes of what we actually saw, and where we saw it so if you want exact info on locations and other stuff I learned then lemme know). The tour was pretty much a full day, but I managed to go to a bar that evening to mingle with some of my roomates from Discovery Lodge. It was quiz night and the prize was a $100 bar tab. I was involved so of course we won, and the team bought me a red bull as a thanks. It is amazing how much fun one can have in life when you actually try (Rachel, your advice from a while back was a major influence in me going out to party).
May 24th. My last day in Queenstown. Today's big activity was my first NZ rafting trip to Skipper's Canyon/Shotover River. After bungy jumping I was hoping to do the jump here but they shut down the jump in winter, so the rafting trip was a satisfactory replacement. Being winter, the river is really tame and wasn't as exciting as rafting the Kicking Horse in Golden, BC last year. It was still fun and I really enjoy calling the strokes from the front of the raft so we managed to get wet in 4 degrees Celcius water and get some speed. The final area of the river included a lengthy tunnel and a big rapid. They had a photographer take some photos but they turned out pretty crap so I passed on them(I would have bought one photo, but you had to buy the $40 package). Whitewater photos from elsewhere will follow, either in Rotorua or the River Valley, so I will proabably buy some eventually.
The tally on activities not covered by insurance is now at 7.
Anyways, I have to say that Queenstown is as close to Canada as you will get in the Southern Hemisphere (and really I haven't been anywhere except here). The weather, the mountains, the people, and everything could easily be Banff or Jasper if they would just have a goddam Tim Horton's somewhere. I may return here if a decent work opportunity comes up, the activities and nightlife are awesome. But it is cold so I won't guarantee anything.
I head to Christchurch tomorrow and will slowly make my way back to the North Island over the next week or so.