The Trip to Middle Earth ~ 2003 ~ Chapter 5 ~ We Become Adreniline Junkies.
To conserve space these photos are small. Mail me if you want the hi-rez image.
Saturday December 6 - The itinerary says "make sure you have plenty of film". We're going to Milford Sound! There were lots of other sights on the way as we road the bus from Te Anau to the ferry. For once, the day started beautiful and stayed that way for the entire trip. The mountains were spectacular and the sunny sky allowed excellent reflections for the photographers at Mirror Lakes.
One advantage of the downpour on the previous evening was the numerous waterfalls on each side of the road. At the rest stop we also were able to get up close and personal with a Kea (parrot). The birds are used to sponging off the tourists, so it is forbidden to feed them, but it was completely unafraid and posed for many photographs.
We also made a stop at The Chasm on the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound. It is a popular attraction, with well paved paths and bridges over the rushing water. Then it was through the Homer Tunnel and on to the ferry.
The Milford Monarch is our ship, one of several in a fleet that run the trip up the sound. Naturally Mitre Peak is one of the first landmarks, and there are plenty of waterfalls on this side of the mountains as well.
Phil also took a photo of the captain in his noisy, hi-tech control booth. We thought we'd take a break for some tea, but an announcement of "Milford Mermaids" came on so we all grabbed the cameras again.
The weather was holding up pretty well, so when Vic offered to let the 'wet group' go on another jet boat ride, we were ready to return to Lake Manipouri. This time the scenery was breathtaking. In the soft light of early evening, you actually could see the River Anduin.
Another lovely day for a change. We must be on a roll now. We're headed to Kelvin Deer Park Heights for more adventures in Rohan. The views from the top are spectacular. You can see Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
After a false start, Gondor 2 got with the program and began to spot the signs marking the special locations. There was much re-enactment of Aragorn's header off the cliff. With the right photo, it looks soooo dangerous. I will never tell how high it really was. Christina did a Legolas moment after I took the dive. We also looked for the spot Gimli fell off his horse near the small lake, but I don't think we ever figured it out. The Warg attack rock was also a bit hard to get an angle on.
On to Arrowtown to see the Ford of Bruinen and some of the SBS-ITU World Triathlon. If you want to see the actual ford spot, you get to wade. This was not as adventuresome as my famous fording at Edoras. I was very careful NOT to fall in. The river was actually warmer than I expected, but still rather swift in current, though not deep. After the gazing and photography, we wolfed our lunch and did some Christmas shopping. Coming out of the store, we ran full on into the biking part of the trials. We yelled "Go Canada" just like all the other folks standing around us. Neighbors to the north are cool!
Back on the bus for one last visit. This time to Amon Hen via the Twelve Mile Delta. The Delta was a site for Ithilien in the films. I'll take the opportunity to stick in a rare photo of Phil the photographer. Sometimes he does let me use the camera! I don't have any photos of him acting Aragorn at Amon Hen. I was too busy being an attacking Orc. We do have some photos of the documentary crew filming it, however!
Queenstown is the extreme sports capital of New Zealand, and home of The Wine Deli. Stop in for Viggo Mortensen's favorite liquer chocolates. Yummy! I fell in love with the Moa statue in the town square. This was also the place where I actually managed to fulfill my dream of rowing to the 'Pillars of the Kings'. Except that it was white water rafting at this time of the year, and no photos could be taken. Still here we are in our gear as we head down the Anduin, and the whole group after.
That evening we went over to Pog Mahone's Pub for some grub. Pog Mahone's is an Irish pub that was shipped over from Ireland. The name means "Kiss my arse" in Gaelic. The barkeep said we should come back the next night to help them celebrate the 5th year since they were flooded out (see their photo below). When we said we had a big dinner party at the hotel, he told us to come over after, as they would be going most of the night. So we did, and stayed as long as my hayfever could take it. Live music and a crushing crowd.
The next day it's Phil's turn again. I forget where he found out about the Nevis Highwire jump, but he decided if he only gets one chance to bungy jump, he was going for the big one, 440 feet. I stayed in town to confirm our flight out (actually I was too chicken to watch). Luckily the other three jumpers from Red Carpet were there to help document the big moment.
Since he came back alive from that experience, we went out walking. The parasail caught our eye. He had seen one in Paihia, but we hadn't had time. Now he wants to do it in Queenstown. A double threat: he's afraid of heights and I get seasick. Add to that a rare attack of hayfever (mine) and you will understand why I didn't really mind that it never worked out. These photos aren't of us. Every time we got signed up, the wind changed, so we never did get to try going up, just out on the boat. Just another reason to return! Our visit to the local wineries and cheese factory worked out just fine.
At last we come to the end of our fellowship in Middle Earth. Some photos from the joint Farewell Party. I don't have any photos of Phil finally fulfilling dream number #1. Remember that wet day at Hobbiton? He wasn't able to do Bilbo's Birthday Speech under the Party Tree, but Vic let him do it at this party instead. Thanks Nikki, for standing in for Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.
In New Zealand, 'Haere ra' is a Maori term meaning more than goodbye. It expresses sorrow at the departure, regret at the necessity for parting, hope for a reuniting in the future. Haere ra, mates!
Kathe & Phil
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