Well, hello all again, First off, there were no problems with the earthquake that happened down here. Nobody in New Zealand felt it, and the tsunami wave was only like 2 feet tall. I was at Mt Cook, which is the highest and one of the most central points on the south island. I didn’t even hear about it until I was driving out and coastal folks on the radio were complaining that they were forced to evacuate when nothing really happened.
I got to Edoras/Rohan. Oh man, it was extremely cool. We got to ride up the mountain itself and sit on the spots where the buildings were. The tour guides brought along some of the authentic sword replicas and we got to have ‘mock battles’. I got a picture fighting with this crazy French guy. Also on that site is the canyon of Helms Deep. I managed to get over close to it, lined up with the aerial shots from the movie and took a few shots. Extremely cool. I spent a day and a half at Mt Cook – the highest point in New Zealand – and it was absolutely stunning. The weather was perfect and I got a few great sunrise pictures of the mountains. Mornings were freezing cold in the high elevation camp – perfect. I did a great hike to the glaciers – which crossed over the glacial-melt rivers via these cool walking suspension bridges. We kept hearing landslides and avalanches all day. I heard at least 7 of them. It’s part of a whole range of mountains, so they were happening in places we couldn’t see (thankfully). Saw a bunch of other little towns in between and a few movie sites.
The land of New Zealand is very diverse, green, and gorgeous. It reminds me very much of Oregon. Right now I’m in Queenstown – the birthplace of bungee jumping. The town is very small in size, but full of every extreme sport you can imagine. The whole town is one big jumping off point for with hippie touristy adventure: bungee jumping, jetboats, steamers, taking 4wd’s out for a spin, mountainbiking, canyoning, paragliding, skydiving, skiing/boarding, and stuff I’ve never even heard of. I’m trying to get on a huge Lord of the Rings tour. Queenstown is where they filmed a great majority of the scenes, and it turns out that taking this one tour gets you to most of the most beautiful spots around here and is cheaper than going on individual ones. After this I’m heading down to Te Anau and then Milford Sound – some of the most remote and most beautiful parts of the south island. I’ll probably spend 2-3 days there before returning to Queenstown. Both those locations are really out in the middle of nowhere, so I might not have email contact. Internet access is sometimes hard to come by and often very slow; so I probably won’t be putting more than a picture or two up on my site until I get back.
I’ve been extremely lucky with the weather, and it has been nothing short of miraculous. At 3 different places folks were saying, “It’s been terrible weather around here the last week, but it just got clear today”. So lucky – so I guess I’ll keep the prayers up. The north island is getting pounded with rain this whole last week – what a difference a change in latitude makes. Best get to bed – have an early day tomorrow and a lot of driving.