Plane Table Lookout
Time for our whorl-wind tour to move on for Wellington today. We first took a drive up to Plane Table Lookout for a view of the Gibson Valley, Once again, the climb up in the coach was breath taking. We were actually in the clouds and didn’t get a clear view of the valley. It was eerie, though. As we descended the clouds broke for great views of the valley. Ian, our poetic leader, said he thought the clouds were going to hold us in Queenstown but now they’ve decided to release us. Down in the Gibson Valley we stopped at a winery and cheesery, then a short stop to watch the crazy people bungee jump, and finally headed for Arrowtown.
Arrowtown is a former gold-mining settlement. This area of New Zealand had a major gold rush following the California gold rush. Ian said there is no gold to be found on the surface any longer. Only deep excavations currently produce. Today, the little 150 meter town has become an upscale tourist stop with high-end clothing stores and restaurants. There is a mixture of Marino wool and possum fur used here that makes the softest, most beautiful clothing. The New Zealand possum looks nothing like the American Possum, and the fur is silky. But most sweaters are around $400. My memory of the feel will suffice.
Flying to Wellington
This afternoon we boarded our 2 hour flight for Wellington. Wellington has been the capital of New Zealand since 1865. It sits on an amphitheater-like harbor formed by the flooding of the crater of a very large and long extinct volcano. Rugged hills surround the harbor where its distinctive wooden houses (which have drawn parallels with San Francisco) perch precariously. Wellington is the home town of Peter Jackson. I’ll keep my eye out for hobbits. Pictures at flickr.