THE GREAT LAKES TOUR
1. Queenstown, 2. Tekapo, 3. Lindis Pass, 4 - 6. Milford Sound, 7 - 9. Blue Pools track, 10. Haast, 11 - 12. Franz Josef Glacier, 13. Lake Matheson, 14. Lake Tekapo.
Because we are total geeks IRL, Chris & I went on a road trip of the South Island, aka the Great Lakes tour, and I kept IMDB open to make sure we weren't missing any prime LOTR/Wolverine film locations.
A few of the things I loved about each town we visited:
Christchurch - It was amazing how they made a great effort to decorate every street corner, wire fence and empty lot with flowers and art, amidst the rebuilding of the city following the devastating earthquake. The container mall was so cool - super innovative - a bunch of shops operating out of brightly coloured shipping containers (thanks for the tip, Lara!)
Tekapo - During the day, the surrounding snow-capped mountains are mirrored in the crystal blue glacier-fed lake. At night, the quiet and lack of light pollution allows you to see the stars at their finest. A visit to the Earth & Sky observatory is a must, and if you're keen - a four-hour hike up Mt. John for breathtaking views. On the way down, stop by the hot springs!
Queenstown - While we are typically not thrill-seeking individuals, we tried to do at least one adventure-y thing. That was the Shotover Jet. Surprisingly I did not throw up, but I was pretty out of it for the rest of the day. We also did a bus tour to Milford Sound and it was craaaaaazy. In the best way. Even on a rainy, foggy day, Milford was incredible. We also passed the field where they filmed the main battle scenes in Return of the King, and I pretended to be an orc commanding my warg/husband.
Wanaka - Not surprisingly we visited Puzzleworks and spent a good couple of hours attempting to navigate the maze, only to be shown up by pesky kids. It was also a good chance to stop for an outfit post.
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers - climbing a glacier is an experience I'll not soon forget. After a brief helicopter ride to the base of the glacier, we hiked with crampons for about 4 hours. As the glacier itself moves one metre a day, it's sad to think that one day it won't be there anymore. When that was over we dared to do a two-hour horse trek...my horse was really not interested in anything but Chris' horse's b-hole.