Saturday, February 12, 2011
Today was our first of 2 "long hauls" in New Zealand. We left Christchurch by 8 am to drive to Queenstown, a journey that would take us more than 9 hours' drive, including stops at the Tin Shed (a store that sells NZ wool products and really was housed in a tin building), McKenzie's for lunch and Mrs. Jones for ice cream and to admire her rose garden. Although I'm not fond of long drives, the views helped to pass the time pretty well.
Coming out of Christchurch, we drove through the plains of Canterbury which were, well, plain. I could almost imagine driving down I-5 in California to travel through Central California. The landscape was pretty flat and well dotted with sheep. We did pass some small rivers that provided some interest. And one section where our bus driver told us they did film several scenes from Lord of the Rings there, namely where Eomer had to "muster the Rohirrim". My inner nerd perked up at that.
After some time, we turned towards the mountains and the views started getting pretty spectacular. There's something about the majesty of mountain ranges that are both humbling and awe-inspiring. Not much I can say and the pictures never do the real thing justice but here are a few examples to share:
In Queenstown, we're staying at another Rydges hotel, this one the Rydges Lakeland Resort. The various Rydges hotels have been pretty good places to stay at with good service and clean rooms. I have to give top marks for this one just for the views alone. It's situated facing the water. Here are some shots from my 8th floor bedroom balcony - imagine waking up to this sight: