NZ Land Logs 14, Year 2: South Island—Queenstown and Glenorchy
Date: Sunday, March 4, 2007
Weather in Queenstown: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand

Our little cottage at the Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park Creeksyde is quite comfortable. As with our other accommodations, it has a kitchen and a bathroom, plus this one has a nice living room with an organ from the 1800’s. Not sure why that is in our cottage, but it certainly makes an interesting conversation piece.

Our first exploration of today took us to Glenorchy. This is a tiny little town on Lake Wakapitu, north of Queenstown. The road is tauted as spectacularly scenic in the literature, and we were not disappointed. Lake Wakatipu starts in Glenorchy where the Rees and Dart Rivers converge. It heads south and then makes a curve to the east to Queenstown, and finally it heads south to a town called Kingston. On the north leg of the lake, the landscape is dry with mountains on either side of the lake. Our first stop was Twelve Mile Delta, the land of Ithilien in The Lord of the Rings. We didn’t make it up stream to the area where Smeagol caught his favorite food, but we could just imagine Smeagol presenting his Coneys to the hobbits. Further along the road as we got closer to Glenorchy, we began to see snow-capped mountains in front of us. This is the land of the famous Routeburn walking trail and it was snow-clad Mt. Earnshaw and her surrounding peaks in Mt. Aspiring National Park that were the setting of the Misty Mountains in The Lord of the Rings. The Routeburn Trail will take you to the LOTR’s sites of Isengard, Amon Hen, and Lothlorien. Long ago the Maori came through this area in search of pounamu. This is the Maori word for jade or greenstone. The area then became a farming area, and then more than 3,000 gold miners arrived in the late 1800’s in search of that precious stone. Instead of gold they found scheelite, an ore used to make tungsten. Today Glenorchy is a center of adventure as the gateway to Mt. Aspiring Naitonal Park and the home to many sheep who graze along the shores of the Wakapitu Lake. On our trip back into Queenstown, we stopped in Closeburn for one more Lord of the Rings hits. Closeburn was one of three sites used for the climatic finale of The Fellowship of the Ring. The lake and the mountains most definitely bring Ithilien and Middle-earth to mind.

Back in Queenstown, it was time to ascend Bob’s Peak in one of the world’s steepest cable ways in the world. It rises over 446 meters in a distance of 731 meters and gives a spectacular view of Queenstown. At the top we enjoyed the scenic overlook and then is was back down for some town touring. We walked to William’s Cottage, the oldest home in Queenstown. Unfortunately it was closed, one of the few places closed in Queenstown on Sunday, so we didn’t get to see the inside. Instead, we sat on the waterfront and just enjoyed the views. We bought local salmon and fixed dinner back at our cottage. Tomorrow it is on to Te Anau and then to Milford Sound. Sure hope this beautiful weather continues.

070304 Web Pics–Queenstown and Glenorchy