The road from the west side of the island to the east was a treacherous one… and we were in a stick. Wesley did an amazing job driving through the icy mountain passes (literally… they were icy mountain passes). There were even a few instances where construction forced us to stop (going uphill of course) and we made it through! The sight of countless full rainbows reaching between mountain ranges was worth it though.
Christchurch (our destination) was recently destroyed (twice) by earthquakes. I myself navigated through the rush hour traffic driving the stick shift… which was very good practice but the city was pretty much closed down by the time we arrived. We decided to walk through the park to the downtown area to see what might be open… but everything there was also closed. One neat thing about Christchurch was that the city had created makeshift multi-level stores and restaurants out of shipping containers, which was very creative.
The next day we were picked up in an 8 wheel drive off-road vehicle and made our way out to Edoras (which is actually a cow farm). Apparently one week before we arrived, the entire area was covered in several feet of snow and it had all melted, leaving us with a muddy, wet, soggy mountain. Our guide was on the fence about hiking up the mountain but we convinced him and in the blistering wind, we hiked up the side of the slippery mountain (or maybe it was a hill?). Our guide was an older fellow who LOVED lord of the rings and had hiked up to the top more times than he could count, so we trusted that he would get us there in one piece. However, there were times honestly thought I was going to get blown off… in fact, our guide told us the wind was somewhere in the range of 65+ mph! Wesley, on the other hand, skipped up the mountain without any trouble and even brought Aragorn’s sword up with us for a photo-op. It WAS worth the hike… such an amazing view! Neither of us stepped in cow paddies either.