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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Driving Lake Wakatipu

Day 6 of our trip, on Friday Februrary 26th, we set out to have some fun in Queenstown. We decided to do the Dart River Jet Safari. They picked us up at our hotel & then we re-arranged buses at their main shot downtown, before heading out for our drive. Heading from QT to the base shop at Glenorchy, the road hugs the coastline of Lake Wakatipu and is a spectacular drive, even if you decide against doing the jet boat ride.

When you make that final turn around the bend in the lake, you are greeted with some spectacular views towards Mt. Aspiring National Park.

We turned the corner & were treated to this majestic view of the Rees and Routeburn Valley!

The sun was rising and the early morning light was just beautiful on the mountainside.

The bright pair of peaks on the right is Mt Earnslaw- East and West Peak. To their left, is the Dart Valley (with the Dart River) and Margaret Glacier.

You've gotta love a peak with a name called Big Geordie! And you have to love maps that tell you what the heck you are looking at :)

Mount Earnslaw is a popular peak for climbers to attempt & was featured in several Lord of the Rings scenes.

Seriously- a stunning view & I could have stayed there all day, but we were going to the north end of the lake, where the shallow, wide Dart River dumps into the deep lake.

There were these large golden tussock in many parts of New Zealand and they added to the beauty was they waved in the wind (although this photo illustrates driving at 40mph, not wind!).

We'd been warned about about sheep crossings in our driving preparations for New Zealand, but these guys were the only ones we ever encountered.

These horses were magnificent creatures & they looked all the more beautiful surrounded by the spectacular scenery.

Then there were cattle in the road!

This whole area, and a very large section of the South Island, called
Te Wāhipounamu were made into a UNESCO world heritage site for their pristine condition & almost zero impact from man on the ecosystem.

Various film crews rent out this valley and hire anybody & everybody in town to work movies for months at a time.

"Station" is the name for a very large farm/ranch from the turn of the century. Some of the largest ones in the country are in the Rees Valley.

This was probably one of the most scenic places we traveled on our entire trip- the drive & the jet boat ride were unreal.

There are several other activities you can do in the Glenorchy area, like horseback riding & I'd have love to done those too and spent more time there.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Lightroom 3.0 has been released & I am ready to commit the time to learning about all the updates!

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