QUEENSTOWN
The flight from Auckland to Queenstown was an easy hour and a half. The descent between the mountains around the Queenstown airport is really beautiful. Once on the ground, we picked up our rental car and headed off to find new adventures.
Since it was early afternoon when we arrived in Queenstown, we decided to check into our hotel. Our room at the Copthorne was "just OK" inside, but the view from the deck was great. The peninsula you see across the water is a golf course. Looking 180 degrees the other direction over the roof of the hotel is the gondola heading up to Bob's Peak. If you look closely below the main building at the top, you can see the trail leading to the bungy jump gantry.

With the afternoon free, we decided to take the gondola up to Bob's Peak and see the sights. The view of Queenstown and of Lake Wakatipu (the third largest lake in New Zealand) is beautiful from up here. There are a lot of things that can be done on Bob's Peak such as parasail, luge and bungy jump (as seen by the bungy platform in all three of the pictures).

Speaking of luge, we took several runs and had a ball. We also did the luge in Rotorua on the North Island. It was completely different. The Rotorua luge isn't as steep, but it's a much longer run. This Queenstown run is steeper and faster. It has really tight turns (banked) and a couple of drop-offs where you can catch some air. VERY FUN! The luge has it's own chair lift that's higher than the gondola station. The last picture below shows the bottom pulley for the luge chairlift. There's a promo video of the luge at this site: http://www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/luge/

Our second day in Queenstown started off with a ride on the Shotover Jet, named that because it runs on the Shotover River. WHAT A RUSH! It was the most fun Genelle & I had in New Zealand. This boat has two supercharged Buick engines with a total of 800 horsepower. It runs up and down a tight canyon at about 60mph. With the twin jets, it can spin 360 degrees under power and be back up to full speed in seconds. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE SHOTOVER JET.

After getting off the Shotover Jet boat, we caught a helicoptor up the Kawarau River to do some whitewater rafting. For fun, the pilot did a couple of sharp banks and dives. I enjoyed that. Unfortunately, most of the pictures I took from inside the helicoptor did not come out well.

Our original plan was to raft on the Shotover River because it was supposed to have class 5 rapids (the highest level). Unfortunately, it's been a dry summer in New Zealand and the river was too low to have good rapids. We enjoyed the Kawarau trip, but it only had class 4 rapids. Also, they didn't offer any professional photos of the trip, so the only photos I have are ones I shot at the top of launching point where a winch lowers the rafts down to the river. The humans had to walk down.

After we returned to the hotel from our raft trip, we had the afternoon free, so we decided to drive our rental car to the top of Deer Park Heights (see first picture below). The "Remarkables" mountain range is behind Deer Park Heights. There are several ski resorts up there, so Queenstown is a busy winter town, too. Hwy 6 heading north out of Queenstown crosses the one-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge. A traffic light is currently being installed at each end to control traffic flow. The last picture shows the Queenstown airport where we flew in on a Qantas Boeing 737.
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At the top of Deer Park Heights is what looks like a Chinese Prison. It turned out to be an old movie set for a Disney Movie called "The Rescue" release back in 1986. Deer Park Heights is privately owned by one person. I'm sure he was paid a nice sum by Disney for letting them build a set and shoot some scenes there.

You may remember the movie series "Lord of the Rings"? That's where the owner of Deer Parks Heights really did well. Many scenes were shot on his property. He continues to make money from the movie by charging tourists $10 per car to drive onto his property where they can follow marker posts showing where various scenes were shot. But the main reason I went up there was for pictures of the view over Queenstown! In the last picture, I labeled approximate where our hotel was located.
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The morning of our third day in Queenstown, we went on a 4X4 Nomad Safari drive in the mountains around Queenstown. In the second picture below, we stopped along the Arrow River at the point where the "Ford of Bruinen" scene was shot for LOTR. With the river so low right now, it's hard to imagine the huge flood that Arwen called down.

In the afternoon, we took the historic 90-year old TSS Earnslaw steam ship from the Queenstown harbor over to Walter Peak Station, an active sheep ranch. We watched a sheep shearing demonstration, then had tea and cakes in the beautiful estate house. It's hard to believe that the sheep actually roam all the way up to the top of Walter Peak which towers above the station, then get herded back down by men and dogs for shearing.

To cap off a fantastic stay in Queenstown, I decided to jump off a bridge. I'm a bit afraid of heights, especially when I stand on a ledge, so this took a bit of mind over matter. I lost my mind, so it didn't matter! This was my first ever bungy jump. A couple of things made it even more special: I jumped on my 49th birtday and this location on the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge is the worlds first commercial bungy jumping station. Note: A lot of people spell this bungee, but the AJ Hacket Company that runs this business spells it bungy, so I'm going along with that.
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