To the foot of the top...
Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
54Trip End Jul 09, 2011
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Where I stayed
High country backpackers.
We arrived into the sleepy town of Twizel after a bus jouney up past the huge lakes and dramatic scenary of the south island, settlements here are few and far between as the landscape dicates the few pieces of land suitable for building on, its amazing the roads they have managed to build there.
A town of only a thousand we were dropped nearby the centre pedestriansed square, it was made up of cafes, wine bars, restuarants a hardware store and a chemist, a supermarket and information point was nearby and that was your lot. It was adorable, surrounded by many of the huge alpine lakes the town was originally doomed from the start. It was built to house the workers of the nearby hydro electric dam project (a quarter of NZs power comes from hydrodams - an awesome statistic). However when the project was finished and town was due to be demolished and returned to its original farming land the people had fallen in love with it and formed a strong tightly knit community, the protested and voila - power of the people eh - its here for us all to enjoy still
We stayed in a motel that had a section for backpackers and enjoyed the final lord of the rings film (on video!!) that evening, we have now watched them all while in the country! the owners were really friendly and the communal social areas were huge, full of nice people.
Saturday I hope you do not judge me for our morning activities...due to steves persistance we embarked on a lord of the rings tour...yes i see the judgement on your faces, we paid money for this!! haha! luckily due to it being the end of the season it was just us on it (which as you will see later i was uber uber thankful for) and so it was personalised and we got to ask loads of questions. We drove out of the town in a four wheel drive mini bus and headed out onto the massive landscape that was used for the Pelennor fields, basically massive battle scenes and horse charging scenes, with shots of the mountains behind them you can see why this location was chosen. Many of the locals were extras and we learnt all about the behind the scenes secrets. Many of the armoured warriors in the horseguard cavalry were women, it was filmed during lambing season for the town so many of their men were up in the fields with the sheep and didnt have time to be extras on filmsets!! We heard how those villagers who were partial to nipping over the fences of this private land at night to nab themselves a rabbit or two for dinner which they had been doing for years (they are considered pests out here with no foxes to control their numbers - sorry mum and mim) suddenly found themselves being hoisted up and growled at by burly security guards who told them in no uncertain terms to get of the property (security was massive at all filming locations
The afternoon was spent sipping hot chocolate in cafes before walking out to a nearby salmon farm. Normally you would be able to feed them, they become piranha at the surface accordingly to a local lady who was upset her kids couldnt do it. The fish couldnt be seen and werent coming to the surface due to the peppermint milky colour of the water, when the earthquake in christchurch struck it caused shockwaves through to the nearby glaciers which feed the mountain lakes and caused more movement than normal (some move up to several meters a day anyway) as they move they grind rock into powder which the locals call glacier flour, when this enters the water it turns it this strange colour. It was a shame not to be able to see the live fish but they had many frozen ones to buy, the full ones were huge, we bought a fillet a good size for two and had the best tasting salmon for dinner that night.
Sunday we booked on a shuttle to the nearby Mount Cook village, near the base of the awesome Mount Cook - the tallest mountain in New zealand, a whopping 3700meters high
Back in twizel we chilled out before heading on...
Lots of love to everyone,
Ps I would like to thank Sir Thomas Crapper for inventing the flush toilet, after all of the isolated walks here in the bottom of the south island, I am ever so grateful whenever we return to civilisation and do not have to use the sandfly ridden long drops.