Queenstown to Wanaka

Saturday started with a bit of a hitch as myself and three others in the group were booked for a morning Lord of the Rings tour and the company was 1/2 hour late. It turned out that they had made a mistake with our booking, but it ended up being ok and we were whisked off to meet our guide. We were with a company called Paradise Tours and our driver was Badger, originally from Reading. He was absolutely brilliant and had loads of knowledge about the films, books and history of the area we were in.  

Our first stop was by the edge of the lake where we could see Mount Ben in the distance. This is where the fellowship go when Sauroman sends the snowstorm. 


Fun fact: as ‘poor old Bill’ the pony could not be transported up here by helicopter, the horse you see in those shots is actually two people in a sophisticated horse costume. Also, the second time Sean Bean went up there he refused to go by helicopter so had to drive and then climb it. 

We had a short bathroom break in Glenorchy, which is a very small but cute town between Queenstown and Paradise. Our next stop was here:


Used for Isengard and also a scene on Wolverine where he blows up the helicopter. Looking at it from a different angle:


This is where Beorn’s house stood in The Hobbit. It was really built there, not just CGI.

Our third stop was for morning tea in Lothlorien.


Also the forest where Boromir is killed and Merry and Pippin lead the orcs away from Frodo and Sam. The floor is covered in golden leaves, exactly as described in the book. However this wasn’t enough for Peter Jackson – he brought in hundreds of fake gold leaves to scatter. Brilliant attention to detail, but as the area is part of a conservation project it meant that they had to pick up all of the fake leaves by hand. 


After this we had one more stop on the way back. We had a short bush walk in some beautiful surroundings.


This took us to the place where Sam and Gollum have their argument about potatoes and the best way to eat rabbits.


Which is on the same ledge that they all look out at the elephants from. 


The tour was a great experience, Badger was a great guide and the whole thing was really interesting. When we were dropped off in town we went and had a snack at the same place we had eaten breakfast the day before.


After that it was time to meet up with the rest of the group and go up the gondola and luging! This was so much fun! Mountain bikers go up to the top and cycle down which is just mad and you can also bungy jump from there. It has a great view too:


We got 2 goes on the luge for $15 and it was worth every one! 


After luging we drove the short distance to Arrowtown. This is an adorable old mining town where they’ve maintained the facade of the buildings. It also has beautiful autumn colours and an original Chinese settlement.


After Arrowtown we stopped for a viewpoint picture in the mountains.


We arrived in Wanaka just as the sun was setting which made for some perfect lake pictures.


For dinner four of us split a cooked chicken and some salad, then started watching Return of the King. Just another day in paradise! 

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