Darting up the Dart River

The Dart River — what we in America would call a mountain stream — runs down from the Southern Alps and feeds into Lake Wakatipu here in Glenorchy.

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We boarded a jet boat (a giant jet ski) and made a fabulous run up the river this afternoon.

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The ride, complete with twists, turns and the occasional 360, was almost as thrilling as the scenery.

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The dry river bed, which we were told floods briefly in April/May, served as the backdrop for the CGI-generated Isengard (home of Saruman, the good-wizard-gone-bad) in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

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The beech forests on either side of the river, part of Mt. Aspiring National Park, certainly transported me to Middle Earth. In fact, several scenes from Peter Jackson’s masterpieces were shot here.

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Some of the trees in the forest we walked through are 900 to 1000 years old. One had a hole in it that I could squeeze through. I couldn’t help but think they looked like Ents.

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Glenorchy and its environs is such a magical place. It wasn’t on our radar screen when planning this trip, but it has turned out to be a hidden jewel we discovered at the top of the lake.

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