Lee’s Summit “Hobbits” Go Jet-Boating
June 21, 2014
Dart River, Queenstown, New Zealand, June 18, 2014 …. Lee’s Summit couple, Dan and Phyllis Hall, recently spent an interesting day in “Lord of the Rings” country near Queenstown, New Zealand.
They reported that the highlight of their visit to New Zealand’s south island was a spectacular 1 ½ hour journey; through the Dart River’s braided river system on a 700 hp jet boat that reached 70 mph.
The river is surrounded by breathtaking snow-covered “Remarkables Mountains,” hidden valleys, and waterfalls, until it reaches Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown, NZ, is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
The Halls reported that the high powered jet boat ride was exhilarating, exciting, and terrifying all at once. According to Dan, “It was like riding in the front seat of a high speed roller coaster for the very first time.”
The day also included a 40 minute walk along the “Heritage Trail” at Paradise, NZ, where the guide provided informative and entertaining commentary about the ancient native beech forest, the unique flora and fauna, the native Maori people, and the European Colonial history of the area. This unique “rain forest” receives over 200 inches of rain a year and is listed as a, “World Heritage Site.”
The guide explained that the Europeans and Americans came in numbers following the discovery of gold in 1861. Most of the first Europeans arrived between 1850 and 1870 building railroads, towns and villages as they searched for gold. Early explorers named the rugged snow-covered mountains, “The Remarkables” no doubt because of their spectacular appearance and giant waterfalls.
Today tourism is the number one New Zealand enterprise, followed closely by agriculture (namely sheep and dairy), and then by movie production. It was one these south islands, approximately six hours from the south pole, that the Tolkin novel was made into the epic movie, “Lord of the Rings.”
The film is considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious film projects ever undertaken, with an overall budget of $280 million.
The entire project took eight years, with the filming for all three films done simultaneously and entirely in New Zealand. First sighted in 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, the country in 1769 was mapped by James Cook, the British captain who dominates the story of the European discovery of New Zealand.