Saturday, December 03, 2005

In the Name of the Lord

I didn't plan my trip to Queenstown until the other day in Brisbane, and now I'm simply stoked about it. As the plane got stuck in a holding pattern before landing at the teeny, tiny, miniscule ZQT airport, I looked out the window and the geek within me started to glow: "Holy shit! That's Middle fucking Earth!"

There's this whole Lord of the Rings mania in NZ, just in case no one has informed you. They have the whole trilogy on-demand on longhaul Air New Zealand flights. There are tons of Rings tours on offer. I skipped the $150 option to truck out of Auckland and check out Hobbiton, but I couldn't resist walking into the official Rings store here in Queenstown and looking at the piles and piles of crap they have on offer. I'm fairly certain Peter Jackson has supplanted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour here. I'm pretty sure they even have a brand of cigarettes named after his Fat Beardedship. I can't be too cynical about it. Having laid my own eyes upon Rohan, Gondor, and the Misty Mountains, I can definitely see why the trilogy has boosted New Zealand tourism.

All my pain and misery from Auckland is gone. I booked into my accommodation at Bumbles, right on the shore of one of the most magnificent lakes I've seen. I got to my room to unload my stuff and - lo and behold - I have a panoramic view of that very lake from my bed.

If that wasn't enough to make me feel better, I walked into town and got myself onto the Shotover Jet, a jetboat tour of the shallow, rocky Shotover River. Weighing in at over 2.5 tonnes, equipped with two Buick V6 engines producing 520 horsepower, and with a capacity of 14 passengers, these boats rip down the Shotover at over 80kmh. The Shotover's no Mississipi. It's about as navigable as a bathtub, but these boats somehow glide through water as low as 2 inches at full speed, pulling 360-degree turns and burnouts in ways those Louisiana fanboats can only dream of. This was just the shot in the arm I needed to get my last week of holiday back on track. I thought the adventure portion of my trip had come to an end, but instead I find myself in the adrenaline capital of the world.

Needless to say, I think I've tuckered in for another slice of paradise. Now I just need to find myself some authentic Kiwi food (mmmm... lamb, maybe some mussels?) for the night and a few pints of Speight's and Steinlager to get myself back to 100%.

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