I hopped on the tour bus for Mount Cook, clouds looming all over, threatening to hide the sun again today. I hoped it would clear up... No hope for that this time. We went through some I the same country that we had gone through to get from Christchurch to Queenstown. Vineyards, farm land, and more sheep. We stopped at a fruit store and then stopped again at Omarama for breakfast. We got to see some great mountain area from the valley road and the glacial blue lakes and river along the way.
We got to Mount Cook but with the cloud cover there was no way to even see the summit. I had planned on trying one of the helicopter tours that went around it and to a nearby glacier to touch down an walk around. But with the cloud cover there were no flights, so I had 2 hours at te base of the mountain. I watched a planetarium show and a 3d flick of Mount Cook, walked around and explored the visitor center before I grabbed a bite to eat from the cafe. Despite not seeing the summit, I still had a lovely view.
I walked around a bit more waiting for the bus. I found a hidden trail I wish they had told us about. It was only a 40 minute return trip but by the time I found it I had half that time left. Sad indeed. So as thundered rolled in a distant part of the range I took a few more photos... This area looks like where Helm's Deep would have been... Tucked back in the valley between the mountains in the distance. I am seriously wondering if they used that to CGI the castle/defenses in. I could just imagine the Orc armies at the base on the flat land as it darkened and rained before the battle began. I think I have had too much LOTR on my mind in this country.
I took a few more pictures to soak in what I could and I finally boarded the bus for the return trip.
I returned to the sun breaking out as we got closer to Queenstown. I got back to my room, where the obnoxious girls had returned to. (Seriously, is there no other open room in this place?) I took my shower, and decided to kick back and relax. I will do a bit of souvenir shopping in the morning... Not that I can fit too much in my bag (nor do I want to). Then it will be off the airport for a little time travel. I take off at 1430 in New Zealand on the 27th... And 20+ hours of flying later, land in Portland at around 1900 on the 27th. Yay for time travel!!! I will be home for my father's birthday and just in time for Thanksgiving the next day. Not a bad way to return to the States I suppose.