Saturday, January 2, 2010

Middle Earth and More!

Experienced the most amazing day! This morning we were collected at 9 a.m. by Andre from 4x4 New Zealand (based in Geraldine) and enjoyed a full day tour of Mt Peel and Mesopotamia Stations as well at the stunningly beautiful Rangitate Gorge region. Words and pictures do not do justice to the views we saw today. It truly was a privilege to have been able to visit this awesome country. At Mt Peel station we visited the tiny Holy Innocents Church and walked among the gravestones of many former station employees and their families. So many graves of young babies and children as well as sons who lost their lives in the First World War in Gallipoli and France. Andre's knowledge of the early settlers in this region and his various stories about how land was acquired and the struggles endured by the early day pioneers was extremely informative. I got a real sense of the isolation experienced by these early settlers and learnt how they lived and survived.
We then headed onto Mesopotamia Station and enjoyed morning tea at the quaint (former) Mesopotamia School. The muffins and biscuits made by Andre's wife were delicious!
Along the way the scenery just seemed to get better and better as we traversed the many valleys that meander through the Canterbury Mountains. We crossed snow fed braided rivers, tussock covered hills and were dwarfed by towering mountains with amazing vistas all around.
Onward deeper into the Rangitata Gorge we visited the regions where "Edoras" stood and "Helms Deep" appeared in the Lord of the Rings. We saw where the "Fellowship" tried to cross the Misty Mountains and "Aragon" road his horse from Edoras to Helms Deep.
After traversing a track high up along the side of a mountain we finally arrived at tiny hut nestled in the most beautiful valley where we enjoyed the best salad rolls and caramel slices. Again, thanks to Andre's wife Kirsty!
This truly was a unique alpine wilderness safari totally devoid of tourists and souvenir shops. It must be one of the most amazing places on earth.
We arrived back at the Scenic Route Motel at about 6 p.m. still awestruck by what we had experienced.

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