Day 14 – Fond Farewells

I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

As I look back on this trip, I am reminded of all the amazing landscapes, film locations, special guests and delicious food we got to experience. But at the end of the day, what truly made it special was the company we shared.

Being able to experience these things together with a group of people from all over the world, who got along so well, was a very special thing. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I am very glad to have had these experiences and been able to share them with this group. I hope these posts and photos will help me remember everything that we did, and the fun times we shared.

Thank you all for your friendship, camaraderie, kindness and enthusiasm (and for letting me take sneaky photos). I sincerely hope we will meet again some day. Until then, I wish you good luck and good health.

Kia Ora.

Day 13 – Queenstown

Better than rain or rippling brook, is a mug of beer inside this Took!

Nothing booked today, so took my time in the morning, and ventured out for a morning walk around town. I walked along the river, towards the Queenstown Gardens, and had a stroll through there. The weather was surprisingly clear, so I managed to get a few photos and enjoy the scenery.

Since I hadn’t eaten anything yet, I decided to make an early lunch stop to try and beat the foot traffic at Fergburger. I walked back along the river this time.

When I arrived at Ferg and was surprised to find not much of a line. Two minutes to order, about a 10-15 minute wait for the burger, and I was off! I also ran into Tim there, so we took our burgers down to the shore and ate them there. I got the Bombay Chicken (grilled chicken, ginger/coriander yoghurt, raita, mango chutney) – it was sublime. A messy one though, especially when not seated at a table, but thoroughly enjoyable.

From there I went straight to get some Ferg Gelato for dessert (hokey-pokey and a creamy chocolate flavour). Both amazing.

After a bit more of a wander around town, the winds started to pick up and the rain clouds were moving in, so I decided to head back to the hotel and rest before we all met up for dinner. Good thing I did, as it did proceed to rain, but at least I had enough time to explore in the morning.

We decided on a pizza bar called the London, so after meeting up in the hotel bar, we all headed over together. Unfortunately Dino and Raulene were going to be late meeting us, as they had a full day-tour booked and were due back at 8pm. When it reached 9pm and they hadn’t arrived, Martijn went back to fetch them, in case they had missed our messages about where to meet. A few others called it a night at this point too and said their goodbyes.

Martijn returned victorious, and renewed energy was injected into the group, as is often the case when Dino is around. They had only just gotten back at 9pm and came straight over – I’m not sure how they had the energy, but we were grateful to share a drink with them and watch the footy together, while Dino explained all of the rules to everyone (including me; Australian by the way).

We then all headed back to the hotel, said our goodbyes to those we won’t see tomorrow, and turned in. South Africa is playing in the footy later tonight though, so Dino was planning on going back out to watch it somewhere, but I need sleep, especially since I’ll need to wake up kind of early to see some people off. At least then I’ll have a few hours to pack everything and explore a little more before my shuttle to the airport at 2pm.

Day 12 – Arrowtown & Bungy Jumps!

Don’t you let go… Don’t let go… Reach!

A very nice, relaxing start this morning, with a long sleep-in, and a late breakfast at Joe’s Garage (pikelets!), before meeting up with the group at 12pm to drive to Arrowtown.

It’s a really quaint little town, with cute little streets and alleys, shops and restaurants. Our first stop was The Old Smithy to pick up jewellery some of us had preordered (and for some people, to buy some new things).

We then had some free time to explore the town and get some lunch. We ran into a bunch of others from the group when searching, so ended up going to a bar & grill type place together and had some great food. I had a really nice pulled chicken sandwich.

By the time we had all eaten and had our drinks, it was nearly time to leave, so I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos. Soon enough, we headed off to the Kawarau Bridge where they have bungy jumps and zip lines.

We spent a little time there, watching the jumpers (none from our group ended up jumping). Bill did however do the zip line, and we all cheered him on from the sidelines.

Then back to the hotel, for our group farewell dinner. We had a great buffet, and of course the customary chat ‘n’ a laugh. After our meal, our group leader and guide Julie gave a nice speech and handed out prizes to various people (I got the photography one!).

Then Martijn, Jess and Barbara all said a few words too. It’s really nice to hear how everyone in the group enjoyed the trip so much and became really close friends. Hearing what it meant to everyone, especially those who hadn’t travelled overseas much (or at all!), was quite lovely. We’re planning to do our own group dinner tomorrow night as well since we don’t leave until Monday, so it wasn’t goodbye exactly.

A bunch of us did all go out after dinner also, to Minus 5 (an ice bar), which is basically what it sounds like. A room made of ice with ice sculptures, ice cups, ice everything; and it’s freezing cold and there’s neon lights and loud music. Not my usual scene, but it was a fun experience.

And on the way there, I snapped a real quick phone picture of the lake, since we were walking past it and it was so picturesque (terrible quality, but the scene was so nice that it doesn’t matter).

I’m really hoping to explore Queenstown tomorrow, but apparently it’s going to rain 🙁 I really hope not, as the small amount I’ve been able to see has been amazing, so I’m keen to see more and capture some of it if I can.

Day 11 – Fangorn Forest & Mavora Lakes

Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!

A bunch of different locations today, but at least they were all relatively close to each other. It was a decent drive out to the middle of nowhere initially though. The road became another dusty path and we drove past fields, forests, lakes and mountains to reach our first destination which was used for a few scenes, on the outskirts of Fangorn Forest.

Of course there was also a convincing reenactment (wind warning).

A short drive down the road led us to this nice photo spot.

Then a really cool river location with stunning views.

Further along the river and we reached the area seen at the end of Fellowship, which was just another all-round lovely place.

After a quick duck onto the nearby forest to spy out where Frodo and the hobbits hid from the Uruk-Hai, we grabbed our picnic lunches and ate on the shores of the river.

Then it was the long drive back towards Queenstown, with a couple of customary stops on the way, including a honey tasting. Finally arriving in Queenstown, we settled into our hotel (the final one for our trip).

Tomorrow we have a super late start! Yay! I will have a nice sleep-in, and then maybe wander around before our noon meeting to go to Arrowtown.

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