Safari of the Scenes, a tour well worth doing!
Day 2 - Queenstown and surrounding area.
On our second day in Queenstown we did the Safari of the Scenes tour with Nomad Safaris. This is a 4 hour tours that starts with a pick up at your hotel at 8:30AM. Lord of the Rings fans will be happy to know they visit several locations where the film was filmed, thus the name Safari of the Scenes. However this tour was in existence before the film actually came out. It covers the Wakatipu Basin and part of Skipper’s Canyon.
The tour is done in a Land Rover Defender as the terrain warrants nothing less than a reliable 4WD. We start out with a steep climb up the Misty Mountain range from where we were blessed with incredible views of Deer Park Heights.
We also visited Arrowtown which is rich with history from the Gold Rush dating back to the 1800’s. The main street still looks like it could be a gold rush town from the 1800’s. The Arrow River today is still panned for gold and on occasion some get lucky. Our tour actually included a lesson in panning and we all had a go, no one got lucky, but the homemade fruitcake served with our coffee by our driver was worth writing home about.
This was definitely a very fun part of the trip as the Land Rovers ford the river several times as we travel down the river. Make sure you take your pictures with the window closed on this part!
|Chard Farm Winery|
We visited the Kawarau Gorge on a rather narrow road with a rather curious sign (see picture to the right), that is apparently built for two way traffic; thank goodness this is not part of my daily commute! From here we could see the original site of the first commercial bungee which was started by A. J. Hackett. There is even a winery situated off this rather tiny road. Apparently the owner had great insight as it is a successful business now producing 6 variety of wines. But, when he first started most believed them foolish to even try.
The last part of the tour was to Skipper’s Canyon and in my opinion it offered the most incredible views of the day. The day was sunny and bright and because it was New Zealand’s fall the tussock (native wild grass) was stunning to see with the shades of gold, brown and orange. Not to mention the while seated on the passenger side, which was also the outside edge of the road the view was literally heart stopping! Skipper’s road is considered one the top 25 most scenic drives in the world and probably one of the scariest, but so worth it! Our tour concluded at our hotel so we could get ready for our next adventure.
Nomad Safaris also offers other tours in the area including Glenorchy, private tours and they also have All Terrain Vehicle options. I’d be happy to give you the details on your next trip to Queenstown.
Denise Gushue - Certified Travel Advisor