Off to Hobbiton
Sauron's power and fury couldn't keep us away, though we nearly didn't make it. Checking in at the airport, with not that much time to spare, they told us New Zealand customs require we have an outbound flight, otherwise they won't let us into the country. Panic stations. Ran to the in-airport travel agency to book a flight to LA from Auckland on the 27th of May, the date we hand in the second campervan. It was a bit more expensive than what we'd seen online but at least the crisis was averted. Made it onto the plane with seconds to spare. We got those critical, judgemental stares as we walked down the aisle from all the goody goody passengers that were there 3 hours before the flight and were now annoyed at the 5 minute delay. Water off a duck's back, it isn't the first time we've done this. And it won't be the last.
The ride was a bit bumpy but coming into Queenstown is an amazing experience. The scenery is breathtaking, beautiful mountains covered in heather, bushes and trees, clear turquoise glacial rivers, green meadows and forests... all amongst a mixture of cloud and sunshine which resulted in the most amazing sight. The only annoyance was that they didn't check if we had an outbound flight. And they made us throw away some bananas (no fresh food allowed into the country).
Queenstown is mostly a skiing and adventure town, it's big season is winter. Right now it's supposed to be a bit quiet, though there seem to be plenty of tourists and locals walking about. It must get really heaving in July. It is on the shores of lake Wakatipu, the second-largest lake in New Zealand, nestled amongst various mountains which contain 4 different sets of ski slopes. Of course you also have bungee jumping, fishing, golf, climbing, hiking, boat and helicopter trips, rafting, canyoning, glacier walks and who knows what else.
We are at a hostel for 4 days until we can pick up our campervan. Today we just strolled round, had a pint, and (since it is a bit chilly in the evenings) got some thermals and hats as all mountain gear shops have autumn sales on.