Tour of the Rings

After finishing up watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy throughout our NZ travels, it was time to visit some of the best filming locations yet. Queenstown is surrounded by epic spots from the movies, so we set out up the lake toward Glenorchy on our last full day.

A few kilometers down the road, we pulled off at Twelve Mile Delta. Eight years ago, my friend Angelica and I spent the night here in our camper van. It’s a stunningly beautiful spot, and also happens to be the filming location for the Oliphaunt and “taters” scenes from The Two Towers. Hundreds of actors and crew camped out here for months while filming, but they left it as they found it, and there’s hardly a trace.



Using our trusty movie location guidebook, we spotted the wooded clifftop where Gollum and the hobbits sheltered while the Oliphaunts and Haradrim marched below. If you look closely, you can see my dad with said guidebook in front of the cliff.



We wandered off the path to check out a gorge on our way back toward the car. It was easy to imagine that the Rangers of Ithilien could pop out from behind a tree at any moment.


Nah, just Andy though.


Looking down into the gorge, I spotted a guy rock climbing. Little did I know, Kelsey Barton and I would be back at this very spot in a month’s time, canyoning and climbing through this gorge, which we now know is called Queenstown Gorge. Look for the helmet at the top of the photo. That’s me and Kels in a month!



Andy, as usual, waited patiently for the rest of us to satisfy all of our Middle Earth photographic whims.



Time for a quick visit to the lake before continuing on the winding Queenstown-Glenorchy Road.



This stretch of road is often rated one of the best drives in the country, and who could argue with that? The snow-covered peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park loom over turquoise Lake Wakatipu, and you really have to pull over to get a chance to take it all in without risking your life.


We made it to Glenorchy, at the top of the lake, just in time for lunch.


Funnily enough, we ran into the honeymooning Texan couple from our wine tour the day before and ended up all having a meal together. After our good banter and fabulous food, we bid them adieu and set off to explore the nearby boardwalk trail. Melissa and I stopped here on our trip a couple years ago, and I knew my family would love it. Birds and views – who could ask for more?




I love how the snowy mountain peaks contrast with the vibrant yellows of the marsh.


There’s those cute parents again!


And the brown shoe brigade.




This next shot really sums up NZ to me – low-key style and a jaw-dropping view.


Before my final Fly Fam Queenstown blog and more Middle Earth (Lothlorien!!) up next, I’ll leave you with these two awesome trees. Thanks, Dad, for pointing out a photo op you knew would be right up my alley.



Ah, to be a tree, in a place like this.

2 thoughts on “Tour of the Rings

  1. Richard H Fly May 29, 2017 — 4:11 pm

    That was one of the best of the many great days on our trip. A short trip by distance but long on wonderment, jaw-dropping views and fun exploration. What a wonderful day at the top of the lake, and beyond.


    1. What he said! That boardwalk and the golden scenery – so cool. And thank goodness we achieved success in locating the cliff that overlooked the oliphants. A real group effort, but mostly you and Dad. Such determination. 🙂


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