|(Long lost friends together again, thanks to a short plane|
ride across the world. This was taken while checking out
the scenic route from Queenstown to Invercargill. Windy!)
WARNING - LONG POST (but good I think, naturally)
|(So that branch he has wriggled out onto is hanging over|
nothing but a nice long waterfall drop. If you glance to the
right where the water is starting to drop you can almost
imagine how high up we really are at this point. Nice.)
Since then Scott and I have moved in and out of one another's lives, though even when separated by vast distances we try to keep up our friendship. This is not always easy. While the distance and our busy lives have been no benefit to our friendship, there are few people out
|(Oh ya and lighthouses too!)|
Now that I am done gushing all over another man publicly, we can move on with his actual visit!
When we began telling people we were moving to New Zealand most folks thought we were joking originally. Scott was the opposite. Before we were even 100% of when we were flying out to travel here Scott and I were planning his trip down! "It's always been a dream of mine to visit New Zealand and I have the perfect reason
|(We liked to frolic in the fields some.)|
There were a few requirements and when all was said and done and they were as follows: We need to hike (a lot!), we need to see a fjord, we need to see as much Lord of the Rings stuff as possible, and let's do something fun for New Years.
Scott arrived on the 18th of December and the whirlwind commenced! We spent our first two days checking out Queenstown a little bit, driving through the beautiful countryside seeing spectacular sites, hanging with penguins, watching sea lions as they napped, discovering ancient bridges, doing a few short hikes, finding secret paths to the tops of waterfalls, and catching back up on what had been happening in one another's lives.
|(The camera simply cannot capture what we were seeing.|
This is the closest one I have seen in our photos to almost
catch some of the beauty that is Milford Sound.)
Oh ya, and we, of course, went to see a fjord! Wrongfully named as Milford Sound, we went up and joined a group of kayakers to head out on the fjord for a five hour kayaking trip. It is impossible to describe the magnitude of the sheer cliffs we were paddling in between during this adventure. We experienced kayaking under the Stirling Falls, kayak sailing (which is fantastic), saw seals who take refuge in the peaceful fjord, and met some fun folks from the UK, Germany, and NZ.
Then we took on the Routeburn Track!! (you can read all about this on our previous post by clicking anywhere on this line - there are plenty of amazing photos on there of the hike too.) We started on the 22nd and finished on the 24th, just in time to head back and celebrate Christmas in Invercargill (and to get Sarah back for her shift starting at midnight).
|(Christmas dinner and relaxing with friends.)|
On the 26th we flew up to Wellington via Christchurch (where we had an eight hour layover - unfortunately we had to leave Sarah in Invercargill so she could work the next two days). We spent a little time checking out the Container Mall in Christchurch where a previous earthquake had destroyed much of the city, and then stayed in Wellington for the night at a friend's house of my friend +Bryce Ashby (this is one of my favorite parts of NZ - people open up their houses and let strangers who know some guy who used to know their brother's friend stay with them - awesome!). Bryce's friend was not even in the country but set it up so that his roommate would meet us and let us stay in their place! Are you kidding me?? What amazing hospitality!!
|(Outside of the Weta Cave Workshop are these amazing full|
sized statues of the trolls from The Hobbit. Watch out
Scott, you're about to get stomped!)
|(Scott said that he was only so angry b/c he|
needed more hugs. I'm not sure if that is
going to have the desired effect but maybe.
The Uruk-hai may just be to evil for that
sort of redemptive love. Maybe not??)
We finished our time at the Weta Cave the only way one should, by heading over to the Chocolate Fish Cafe for some lunch, because as everyone knows the cast of LOTR reportedly ate there quite often. Is it my fault I want to eat where +Vigo Mortensen and +Sean Bean maybe enjoyed a quiet meal? Who knows, but it was delicious food and it prepared us to see +The Desolation of Smaug (the second installment of +The Hobbit) at The Roxy movie theater (which is epic for about forty-five reasons including there is a giant statue of Gandalf out front of the theater). What could we do to top this sort of LOTR's day thus far? I'm glad you asked.
The answer is you head North and you check out +Hobbiton Movie Set, which for a fee allows you to walk through private farmland with 48 amazingly crafted hobbit holes. Yep, and the tour ends at the Green Dragon where you can sit and drink a cup of beer/cider/non-alcoholic to end your tour. And yes we did this on the next day and yes it was awesome. We walked up the path to Bag End, we stood where Gandalf rode into Hobbiton on his cart full of fireworks, and we too thought about running to jump over the very fence where Bilbo leaps over exclaiming, "I'm going on an adventure!" Quite surreal in many ways after having been an avid fan of +J.R.R Tolkein for so long.
|(The Hobbit holes looked so real!! Nice.)|
Remember that New Zealand hospitality I was mentioning earlier? A friend from seminary days, Mr. Russell Bone, now lives in Auckland with his Kiwi wife Sarah and their family. So naturally they opened their home to Scott and I for a few days. Amazing. So we rested, still reeling from our LOTR's high, went to parks and beaches, visited a winery or two, and brought in the New Years as the first major city in the world to do so (which was cool). Sadly Scott had to fly out on the 2nd of January.
|(The outfits we had to wear under the gear|
for kayaking. Pretty stylish no?)
By the end Scott and I were almost ready to strangle one another, mostly I think because our time together was pretty jammed full of so much to do - amazing things but just a lot. In the few weeks since Scott has left though I find myself once again realizing the immense benefit of having someone like him in my life. It can be easy to lose track of how important people are to us when they live far away and this trip was a helpful reminder about how fortunate I am in his friendship. While life may take us to opposite corners of this earth, I hope and pray that we will always seek out ways to continue building our friendship.