After stepping into and laying eyes on the resplendent sights of New Zealand, one can easily understand and appreciate Peter Jackson’s vision for Middle-Earth. Defined by snow-capped mountains stippled in rich hues of emerald and gold, traversing rivers stained in variegated greens and blues, and vibrant meadows etched in valley floors, her imposing beauty was his perfect muse. Bolstered by the naturally sweet air, Queenstown is magical. So uniquely magical, that crossing paths with a hobbit (or two) wouldn’t have seemed out of the ordinary.
A view of Queenstown from a pass leading into Skippers Canyon.
A mountain view from the Kawarau River.
The snow-capped mountains and quiet meadows of Queenstown.
The rivers and lakes in and near Queenstown are stunningly indescribable bodies of water that look like liquid opal. This picture was not altered in any way. Like any picture, the real thing is always more beautiful than the picture.
Queenstown’s rugged landscape and spectacular beauty beckons outdoor enthusiasts from all corners of the world. We found common ground with other adventurists and filled an entire week with (rational, level-headed) activities that appealed to us. We rode the Skyline Gondola and alpine slide; went white water rafting down the Shotover River, quad biking along a mountain slope, and speed boating through Skippers tight canyon walls. It was a perfect blend of excitement and entertainment for our family.
Skyline Gondola and Alpine Slide
A cloudy view of Queenstown from the top of the gondola. Our first day in Queenstown was cold and rainy. Luckily, it warmed up the next day, and stayed that way until the day we left.
Chris going down the alpine slide. This photo was taken by pure happenchance. Kylee and I were standing on the observation deck when we saw Ally fly by. I tried to capture a picture of her, but it was too late. A few seconds later, Chris sped by and I was able to get a picture of him before he disappeared around the corner.
Ally, wet and cold, but looking forward to another trip down the alpine slide.
Family Adventures White Water River Rafting
The four of us dressed in wet suits, fleece jackets (Kylee and me), life jackets, and neoprene booties. For those of you who are Lord of the Rings fanatics (yes, I’m talking to you Rose family), a scene from the Fellowship of the Ring was shot here. It is the scene where Arwen carries Frodo across the Ford of Rivendell to protect him from the forces of evil. It was a twenty second scene that took one week to film.
Starting our rafting trip down the Shotover River. We are in the raft on the right.
Hitting some rapids.
Taking a short break before heading back into the rapids.
The rest area had a rock ledge where people could climb up the rock face and jump into a deep pocket of water below. Ally was the only one in our family who embraced the freezing waters.
Off Road Adventures Quad Biking
All lined up and ready to go! I love the way that Ally and Kylee are rock’n their industrial black gum boots!
Ally looking over her shoulder, making sure the rest of us are keeping up.
What’s not to love about quad bikes and deep, muddy river beds.
Skippers Canyon Jet Boat
The beautiful Shotover River running through Skippers Canyon.
A closer view of the Shotover River.
Ally and Kylee preparing for the jetboat ride.
A picture of a different group going upstream.
When we weren’t engaged in pulsating activities, we were enjoying simple, quiet moments along the lake that paralleled the hotel. We walked and rode bikes around the lake, fed ducks, took pictures of pink flamingos (that were really buoys) and grey whales (again, that were just buoys), and watched the girls climb and swing from trees.
The girls enjoying one of many walks that we took along the lake.
Ally biking along the lake trail.
Ally and Kylee found a swing near the lake that they enjoyed playing on during down time.
Ally and Kylee feeding the ducks near the hotel. By the time we left, the girls had several of the ducks trained to visit them on the deck in front of their room.
Another one of Ally’s wildlife selfies.
Before making our final departure from Queenstown, we found the (much required) time to stop at its most touted restaurant, Fergburger. After a 30 minute wait in line, just to order, and then another 25 minute wait, to receive our food, it was worth every second. The Fergburger was one of the best burgers that we have ever eaten! For what it’s worth, an article in CNN.com proclaimed Fergberger “the best hamburger joint on the planet.”
Kylee contemplating another bite of her giant Fergburger. By this time, she had probably only taken two or three bites of her burger and she was starting to feel full.
Queenstown was an ideal place to find extreme beauty (and ducks), experience extreme activities and adrenaline fueled fun (and ducks), and eat extreme burgers (no duck burgers). We would love to return to New Zealand and see more of it.