Day Seven (Monday, April 16th)
We left Te Anau around nine in the morning. Our destination was Queenstown where we had a double room booked at ˜Deco Backpackers'. It was a lovely, clear morning. We could see far into Fiordland. The deer bellowed their goodbyes as we drove away. As promised, I drove back to Queenstown so that Greg could have a chance to look around. It was a pleasant trip across mostly farmland. We arrived in the bustling œadrenaline capital of New Zealand and found ˜Deco Backpackers'. Our hostel was an ok place, up in the hills with great views of the city, Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. Queenstown's population of about 10,000 is surprisingly small. There are no tall skyscrapers “ although I doubt they'd make much of an impact anyhow with all the snow-capped mountains for company.
Queenstown is so busy with tourists that it feels like a big city. It wasn't even ski season yet. It must be a zoo in July and August. After checking in, we gassed up our car, bought a few groceries and ate a picnic lunch in a park down by the lake's edge. The weather was much milder than it had been when we passed through town a few days earlier. We explored the city that afternoon, peeking into shops, cafes, and restaurants. We found AJ Hackett's bungee centre. They organize bus trips from downtown out to the various bungee sites around Queenstown. Greg decided against going. It was a much more time-consuming venture than we'd imagined for a 5 second rush. We found a Lord of the Rings souvenir shop. I confess that I was drooling over the sword replicas and pewter goblets. Some of the items were pretty junky, though. Everything was outrageously expensive. We walked down to the lakeshore and found a cafÃ© where I bought freshly squeezed orange juice “ at $4.00 it was the cheapest thing on the menu. Bottled water would have cost me more!
Late in the afternoon we drove to the tiny town of Glenorchy at the far end of Lake Wakatipu. There's not much there but the spectacular alpine scenery. Somewhere around the town there were a few locations used in The Lord of the Rings. A company in Glenorchy offers horse and 4-wheeler treks to the sites. In my opinion paying to see the exact location is unnecessary. You can tell just by looking around that the scenery is similar. Orcs could have ambushed us from the forest, and I doubt I'd have been all that surprised.
Back at our hostel that night we had a simple dinner of soup and sourdough bread. I did a load of laundry (clean towels!!). We finished off our Speight's and played a game of chess. Greg won, of course. (*Greg: I believe my victory in chess was due to forfeit.) I called and booked our ferry and bus tickets home. Was our holiday really almost over?!