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Trip Report Crazy Queenstown Day Trip for a LOTR Fan!

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Hey Fodorites! What's up!

Thought I'd do a quick little report on a recent day trip that I did with my two teen brothers to Queenstown and back (from Timaru, two hours south of Christchurch). I found out some interesting facts that I never knew before...

Started the day at 5am, as it is a four hour drive from Timaru to Queenstown. Went down state highway 1 and turned off down the Waimate/Kurow road, which is a quicker alternative than heading north through Tekapo from where we were. Got to Omarama at 7am, then headed on through the Lindis Pass.

Reached Cromwell by 8:30ish and stopped to use facilities and take pictures with the giant fruit (laughing away at being tourists in our own country). We chose to go this way on the way there and were intending to go through Wanaka on the way back....but more on that later. After Cromwell, once we were in the gorge, we stopped to take a look at Roaring Meg, which is a dam/man made waterfall on the Kawarau River. This river (parts of it) were used as locations along the River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Upon arrival in Queenstown around 9:45, we dropped in to the I-site and the people there were very helpful, and we now know that the public restrooms can be found in the Adreneline sports booking building directly across the street from the I-site. Worth noting. We had a spot of morning tea on the edge of Lake Whakatipu with The Remarkables lying beautifully across the lake, even though it was an overcast sort of day. Following this we decided it was best to go up the Glenorchy road before the weather packed it in. (Had to see the "most beautiful road in New Zealand"). I recommend it! Beautiful views the whole way along! Make sure to stop many times if you venture upon this road, my favourite spots were a spot with a little ramshackle fishing pier, about ten minutes down, then a spot near a cafe with a huge metal fish sign (in order to fully appreciate it you need to go down to the water's edge, there is a culvert with a little stream to jump over, then sheer beauty of the lake, mountains, and the remains of an old pier, which looks very rustic, and believe me, rustic is hard to come by in this country!).

We arrived in Glenorchy in time for a picnic lunch, but the weather was bad, so we ate in the car. We had a look at the Glenorchy shed and the yellow mud mangroves then returned to Queenstown. If the weather had been better we would have gone up the Paradise road in hopes of seeing some more LOTR locations, but that will have to be another time...

Time for shopping in Queenstown! To be honest, the shops aren't really all that. My top two would have to be: The British Lolly Shop (If you go nowhere else, go here! Amazing selection of sweets, lollies, and gum balls so big that if you can fit one in your mouth, you get your money back!) and Reel Collectables (movie memorability geek shop! The owner is cool and he has lots of great stories to tell about his most famous customer visits). Most of the shops are way too expensive!

Botanical gardens, nice:). Trying to find a parking space that lasts for longer than 30 minutes, hard! There is a parking building, but I was too cheap for that.

We decided now to leave Queenstown and head over the scenic route to Arrowtown. My petrol was running pretty low, but I thought I'd get more in Arrowtown....mistake number one. Got to Arrowtown, which was very pretty on this day. Petrol was flashing empty. I went to the I-site and found out that there are no Petrol stations in Arrowtown! Guts! The closest is back at Franktown, ten minutes before Queenstown, which was twenty minutes away from Arrowtown. Double guts! Lesson: always fill up when you are in a large settlement, don't presume that places have petrol stations.

So we decided to find the Ford of Bruinen location in Arrowtown and worry about the petrol later. The I-site lady was really helpful, but she didn't know exactly where the location was n the river. So following the direction of the Lord of the Rings Location guidebook, we headed left from the car park and followed the river upstream. Beware, your shoes will probably get wet if you try to find this location:). But literally a few meters upstream it's right there! Beautiful! You don't need a tour to find this one LOTR fans!

So we JUST made it back to Frankton before the petrol ran out completely! Phew! It was 4pm and we made the decision to eat McDonalds in Frankton and head home, skipping Wanaka, because I didn't want to drive the gorge or the pass in the dark. Good decision. Four hours later we were home, safe and sound, having had one of the most interesting day trips ever. P.S. I don't really recommend driving eight-nine hours in one day, it's exhausting. But I was the only one with a license, and I really wanted to do it. Also, LOTR fans! Just do it! Totally worth it!