Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 17 (Jan 5) - Queenstown Gardens and Glenorchy

We did not know what kind of bird this was.  But by its looks we decided it must be an original Turducken, this mysterious beast that is part turkey, part duck, and part chicken, and has become infamous on American Thanksgiving tables.

A morning walk through Queenstown took us to the peaceful Queenstown Gardens, which opened in 1867 and contain a variety of exotic and native trees and plants.

Racing motorized sharks on Lake Wakatipu

Located on a peninsula within Lake Wakatipu, it also offers great views of the many – and somewhat crazy – water attractions operating from Queenstown harbor.


A drive along the lakeshore took us to the small village of Glenorchy (named after Glen Orchy in Scotland), and to the wild river delta formed by two glacial streams, the Dart River and the Reese River. 

Views across Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy

The super-picturesque valley lies at the base of Mount Aspiring National Park, and Fiordland National Park.

Sheep near Glenorchy

The scenery features prominently in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring.  E.g., Lothl├│rien, the “fairest forest realm of the Elves” was shot in a place called Paradise, a few kilometers north along the Dart River.

On the banks of the Dart River, Paradise is in the background at the foot of the mountains

Several other movies were also filmed in this area including Prince Caspian from the series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Three of us.  On a a bridge near the trailhead of the Routeburn Track.

The valley is also the eastern terminus of the Routeburn Track, considered by many to be the most beautiful of New Zealand’s nine “Great Walks”, and ranked by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 treks in the world.

On the Routeburn Track.

The 32km track crosses the Southern Alps connecting Glenorchy with the Milford Sound.  The shortest road from one end to the other is more than ten times as long as the trail. 

On the Routeburn Track.

I was very intrigued by the possibility of running the Routeburn Track in a day but I was ultimately put off by the amount of family time lost to make it happen, including a six to eight hour bus journey that would have been necessary to connect the two termini.

On the Routeburn Track.

This decision was well rewarded when Cora and Julian agreed to join me on an evening hike along the first section of the track starting at the Glenorchy trailhead.

On the Routeburn Track.

That night I also formulated the plan to get up before dawn the next morning to climb to the top of Ben Lomond, the prominent mountain towering right behind Queenstown.

Dart River at sunset.

There are not just sheep in New Zealand.

Road near Glenorchy in evening light

Lake Wakatipu in the evening.

Along Lake Wakatipu

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