Middle Earth aka New Zealand is indeed as mesmerizing and stunning as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. A friend and I travelled through the South Island in 2011 and stayed for a week in Queenstown.
Queenstown is as touristy as they come however waking up to the snow dusted mountains and sipping luscious New Zealand wine by the lodge fireplace in the evenings, well and truly makes up for the overpriced and somewhat crowded town. Apart from the skiing and adventure sports, there are several heavily marketed tours around the area. The most popular ones are a trip to Milford Sound, the beautiful reserve worth the 4 hour bus trip each way, the high speed river jet safaris on the Dart river into Mt Aspiring National Park and a scenic trip to Glenorchy. Due to bad weather we lost a few days of sightseeing however we happily used them to drink wine and just chill out. However when we did venture out to book some tours, we sorely realized we were short on days as Milford Sound is a 4-hour ride away from Queenstown and it would taken an entire day.
There was nonetheless a way around it and that was to fly to Milford Sound, do the boat tour around the reserve and then fly to Glenorchy for the river safari and be brought back to Queenstown by a shuttle bus. While it deeply slashed into our budgets, we quietly slid our credit cards across the counter promising not to think about it till we got home!
It is was a decision we could not regret. Apart from the time saving factor and that we were butt-tired exhausted by the end of the day, the epic scenery is something one does not forget in a lifetime!
Here are some pictures from that trip.