Travel and Culture

Sofa Sightseeing: Queenstown

Queenstown needs no introduction, a theory suggests,  it was gold prospectors, captivated by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers, who hit upon its name when they pronounced it a “town fit for a Queen”. Can’t argue with that.

Enjoy this virtual tour of Queenstown through the lens of our very good friend Janis White.

 

-Tāhuna, the Te Reo Maori name for Queenstown, means “shallow bay”.

– Queenstown’s founder William Rees first arrived on the shore of Lake Wakatipu in February 1860. Some of his descendants still live here!

The Franz Josef glacier

– In 1865 German geologist/explorer/museum founder Julius Von Haast decided to name the glacier after the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Josef I. The local village later took its name from the glacier.

-While The Lord of The Rings holds pride in place with so many New Zealanders Glenorchy is equally famous for so many other films like Vertical Limits which was filmed in the mountains around Glenorchy, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Water Horse, both The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia series, and more recently Tom Cruise was hanging around town filming the latest instalment of his Mission Impossible movie – Fallout, in the Rees Valley.

Janis spotted a mysterious creature at Hokitika gorge 😀

-Ever wondered why Hokitika so blue? Well it’s all down to something called ‘rock flour’ which is ground down mineral-rich schist rock and sandstone which is so fine that instead of settling to the bottom of the river it remains suspended in the water as it flows down from the southern alps through what some refer to as Hokitika blue gorge.

 

Punakaiki pancake rocks

-The Pancake Rocks are most spectacular in the Putai area. They were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers.

How can a trip complete without visiting Milford Sound

-Early European settlers named the area for its geographic features, but they made a mistake in doing so. A sound is formed when a river valley gets flooded by the sea. But Milford Sound was carved out of glacial erosion – thus making it a fiord, not a sound.

-The British author Rudyard Kipling went to Milford Sound in 1891 and famously declared that the fjord is ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. On his New Zealand visit, Kipling also passed through Dunedin and Auckland and wrote a short story inspired by his travels.

Karamea beach

-A small lake between Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound, it lies close to the New Zealand State Highway 94 (the Milford Sound Road) and the Divide of the Southern Alps. The small tramping camp of Cascade Creek lies close to the lake’s southern end. The west branch of the Eglinton River flows through the lake. There is a Department of Conservation campsite located within.

Lake Gunn

-A small lake between Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound, it lies close to the New Zealand State Highway 94 (the Milford Sound Road) and the Divide of the Southern Alps. The small tramping camp of Cascade Creek lies close to the lake’s southern end. The west branch of the Eglinton River flows through the lake. There is a Department of Conservation campsite located within.

Oparara Basin Arches

– The Oparara Basin is formed from a bed of 350 million year old Karamea granite overlaid by a narrow belt of limestone, with a layer of blue-grey mudstone (or papa) on top. The Honeycomb Hill Caves tunnel system was formed over the last million years, while the limestone itself, from 15 to 60 m. thick, is approximately 35 million years old, formed from deposits of shell debris when the area lay under the sea.

Check out more from our Sofa Sightseeing series HERE.

 

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