A Voyage to Middle Earth: South Island New Zealand
After of the release of the Lord of the Rings films and Hobbit trilogies, New Zealand will forever be known as the home to hobbits, elves and stunning settings. While in Queenstown, Eric and I went in search of the land of J.R.R. Tolkien or the Long White Cloud. We found that the best way to discover it was by helicopter and boat.
Arriving at the Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter terminal, we were thrilled to learn that our pilot Alfie knew Middle Earth intimately, having provided the aerial film work for both film series. We also hit the jackpot with the weather. It was warm, sunny and not a cloud in the sky.
Mitre Peak beckoned as our helicopter lifted off to begin our journey to Milford Sound.
From the sky, we discovered isolated valleys of ancient forests and pristine rivers famous for their fishing, as well as mountains sculpted from ice over thousands of years.
Gaining in altitude, we flew past tops of mountains and ice falls before landing upon an ice field on Mt. Tutoko, a glacier in the heart of Fiordland National Park.
From that vista, we enjoyed 180 degree views of jagged mountain peaks and the dramatic valleys. For the first time in my life, I truly felt like I was on top of the world.
Taking off from there, we explored Milford Sound and the Tasman Sea before landing near the cruise ship dock
The boat traveled past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls. One vista was more spectacular than the next.
We were fortunate enough to catch some nocturnal seals, sunning themselves on rocks. I never did manage to take a photo of the seals, due to battling selfie sticks and the abundance of amateur photographers.
(The entrance to Tasman Sea, which is one of the roughest seas in the world)
The helicopter ride home over Ben Lomond Saddle, though less dramatic in scope, offered us magnificent views of Glenorchy, Lake Wakatipu and Deer Park Heights, where I’m still convinced the hobbits and elves were hiding out.