New Zealand – Day 4

Thursday, Dec. 23 – Auckland to Queenstown

Got up rather early today, at 7pm, to make our way to the airport to catch our Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown. The taxi driver that took us to the museum yesterday – Tom, from Samoa – gave us his card and told us he’d come pick us up at 8am to drive us to the airport. He told us a bit about himself: originally from Western Samoa, lived in New Zealand, then in the US for a few years, and now back in NZ. Has five children, the youngest is 16; one of his daughters is soon to become a lawyer, another son is a builder and a third is a pilot. He could say shalom and toda but thought that we were speaking Latin…

Our flight left Auckland at 10am. We arrived in Queenstown around noon, took our rental car and checked in at our hotel (the Abba Green Motel). The room wasn’t as good as the one we had in Auckland but the view was awesome. Pretty much every direction you look, all you see is mountains covered in a sea of green. It’s a small town (population about 8,000) but with many things to do and see.

This is Lord of the Rings land; many of the scenes in the movie were filmed in this area and there is a whole tourism industry around the movie: Lord of the Rings safaris, LOTR hikes, LOTR guidebooks, LOTR helicopter rides, and so on and so forth. Every shop you walk into has LOTS merchandise. If only Tolkien knew what he would do for the New Zealand tourist industry…

The weather is decidedly against us in this trip. It’s been raining since we got here and only in the last two hours it slowed down to a drizzle. It’s quite cold and we walk around with three layers of clothing. The weekend is supposed to be nicer.

We didn’t accomplish much today. Also, I’m told pictures are not showing up properly, so I’ll post only text until the problem is fixed.

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