The final day of the Red Carpet Tours 2 week LOTR tour was a pick your own day. Based for the last couple of days in Queenstown, there is plenty to choose from: this is a town with no industry other than tourism!
Naturally, I chose to go horse riding. Well, I couldn’t very well go all that way and NOT go riding, now could I? (If you’re new here, I’m a professional dressage trainer by day, author by night).
We were picked up early morning, and stopped along the way for a photo op:
Dart Stables still have some horses that were used in the films, but I didn’t get one of those, never mind, the scenery was spectacular!
When we arrived at Glenorchy, they quizzed us about our experience, and I landed an ex-racer who didn’t like to be kept back – fortunately, this was a fast ride – 22km in 3 hours – and that’s not hanging around.
We did stop for some pics along route:
So this is me, riding along with the Misty Mountains for a backdrop!
In the afternoon, we swapped scenery for the glorious region known as ‘Paradise’, and the Ride of the Rings. Lots of familiar spots here, from The Fellowship (Boromir tries to take the ring, Boromir’s death, and Lothlorien) to the site of Beorn’s house from The Desolation of Smaug.
Returning to Queenstown, we got off the bus in the centre of town to be treated to this spectacle:
Our grand guided tour ended with a fabulous meal in the Skyline Restaurant above Queenstown, accessed by Gondola.
The next morning we collected our hire car and set off on our own for the West Coast. En route I took a quick picture of one of NZ’s farming industries: deer farming! I’ve not seen deer farmed like this, but on South Island it’s a big thing.
The countryside turned mountainous after that – spectacularly so!
And then we reached the coast, with this weird arrangement of trees that appear to grow out of other trees
and fabulous coastline
Breath-taking, all of it.
So our destination that night was Franz Josef Glacier – or rather the town at its base, which nestles in tropical rain forest. I’d booked us in to stay in a ‘tree lodge’
We took an evening stroll out towards the base of the glacier
And we weren’t alone
Along the way, we came across this amazing triple waterfall
And here is Brian at its base, to give you some idea of scale!
I’m going to break here, as the next couple of days were really special – as if the rest of it wasn’t!
For the following day, we went a’climbing!
Just the one more post to go, promise!