My next stop was Queenstown. Originally a gold mining town, Queenstown has developed into a bit of a tourist hub, particularly specialising in adventure tourism.

On the way into Queenstown, I decided to take a look at a Lord of the Rings filming location, known as the Pillars of the King. The road to the location bore the following warning:


I ignored this warning, and followed the gravel track along the side of a cliff. Eventually it provided views of the river on which the fellowship rowed past the statues of the King, which themselves were probably CGI.

Pillars of the King

During my day in Queenstown, I went on a Lord of the Rings tour. It was a small tour, only four including myself, and we were taken north through the farming village of Glenorchy, into Paradise Valley, and the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park.

On the way, still on Lake Wakatipu�which Queenstown sits on the shores of�we passed the marches which Peter Jackson wanted to use for the Dead Marches. He ended up using a car park.

The marches

Glenorchy is a small farming village, and has mostly avoided the effects of tourism on the area. Particularly amusing was the Glenorchy library, which opens at 2:30pm every Friday; this is the only time it is open.

We entered the forest in Mount Aspiring National Park in which several scenes were filmed, including those in Lothl�rien, and those in which Boromir perishes.

The forest

Paradise Valley itself provided the backdrop for Isengard. Though Isengard itself only exists in a computer. The valley is apparently often used in films and adverts.

On the way back into Queenstown we stopped off to see the wild New Zealand Oliphants, or at least the location where they virtually roamed. Above this stands the camp fire where Gollum presented Frodo and Sam with rabbits to not cook.


I had planned to fly to Milford Sound, a fjord (not a sound), in the afternoon, but unfortunately it was cancelled as it was too windy for a plane to land at Milford. By land it would be an eight hours return drive, which I just didn't have time for. I guess I will have to come back some other time...

Instead, I took the gondola up one of the mountains to get views of Queenstown below. Then I went for a jet boat ride on the Shotover River. I have never had air forced up my nose quite so forcefully before.

Shotover jet

Leaving Queenstown, bound for the west coast, I took a road that was dubious enough to have a sign to say that it was open. It started very steeply; so steeply that people with wings were jumping from the top.

People with wings

I then drove past past a couple of lakes, and into the Haast Pass, which would take me to the west coast.