Thursday, July 2, 2009

LOTR Tour & Milford Sound

This is going to be a very long entry because we’ve had limited internet at the hotels we’ve been staying in. So I’ll start with yesterday.

Yesterday we went on a Lord of the Rings tour in Queenstown, which was really amazing. We got to see a bunch of different sites where they filmed different scenes and the views were fantastic. We got to see the place where Sam and Frodo were eating breakfast and then they saw the huge elephants go by, the river where they filmed the scene in which Smigel finds the ring in the stream, the area where Isengard was, and the best one – the river where the two Pillars of the Kings once stood. It was so cool to stand there and think that Peter Jackson or Vigo Mortensen or even just LOTR crew once stood on the same ground I was standing on, and sets once stood where I was looking right in front of me. I can’t even imagine how incredible it must have been to spend so much time filming in such a beautiful place.

Today we took a day trip out to Milford Sound. Before we even got there I was excited to visit a Milford in another country and I was eager to find out if this one would live up to the Milford in Mass. The scenery around us as we drove there was, as usual, amazing. At multiple points we were literally driving in the valleys between huge mountains. On the way we stopped a few times, one of the stops being Mirror Lakes. When we were leaving, we had a first for all of us – picking up a hitchhiker! Well, I exaggerate. A girl named Jen, who was a student from Canada, didn’t get back on her bus in time, and it drove off without her. Turns out she was headed to Milford Sound as well, so we gave her a lift and she was successfully reunited with her tour group.

Milford Sound was really awesome. It is one of the many sounds in the fjords that line the southwestern coast of the southern island of New Zealand. We took a boat, the Spirit of Milford, along the sound and out to the ocean, where we turned around and headed back into the shore. Before reaching the shore, we stopped at the underwater observatory. The underwater observatory was this circular station beneath the water that allows visitors to see fish and other sea life that can be found in the sound. It was really an awesome experience!

On the way back from Milford Sound, the weather got bad, and it started snowing really hard. After waiting 10 or 15 minutes in a tunnel that ran through a mountain, plows led us down the road, plowing the way for us and the other cars with us. Luckily the snow turned to rain and then stopped before we had to drive up any steep hills.

Unfortunately the internet situation has been a bit problematic lately, so I can't upload my photos now. I'll upload them as soon as I can, which will probably be when we leave Queenstown in a day or so. That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

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