Well, it certainly has been a pretty nutty first few days for Ariel and I on our trip. Our goal has been to combine the Tolkien stuff with some of the, you know, actual real New Zealand. Renting a car (or taking buses) is a great way to see how the country really works. This is a major reason why we didn’t just book ourselves on a Lord of the Rings type of tour. Also, we want to see what we want to see.
Having said that… NOT being on a tour has its disadvantages as well…
Like hypothetically, if you were a couple of not-quite-in-shape Americans with limited hiking experience, you might want to think twice before doing the Tongariro Crossing… I’m not saying it nearly killed us, but I’m also not saying it didn’t. We’ll have the full story (with some AMAZING pictures) on that later on.
In the end it was worth it both for the incredible views and the sense of accomplishment.
So here’s a quick recap of what we’ve done so far.
On day 1, after stocking up on kosher deli meats at Gray’s Deli in Auckland (where we went straight from the airport), we drove around Auckland and got some pretty scenic views of the city at the Mount Eden overlook. After some pretty awful driving (on the “wrong side” of the road mind you) experiences in the city proper we were off to our first major film location.
This place was pretty awesome and not that hard to get to. We stayed on the road to avoid the ring-wraiths. Actually it was private property. But the wraiths too.
From there we went to Matamata where we stayed for the night after our first decent meal in about 40 hours at the Redoubt Bar.
On day 2, it was time for our tour of Hobbiton.
There’s not much more to say in a quick summary like this other than that it. Was. AWESOME. I’ll do a full post on this later on when we have some more time, but suffice it to say, if you’re in New Zealand, you have to come here. Even if you aren’t so into the Tolkien stuff, what they did with this set is nothing short of incredible.
From there we went to Rotorua where we learned a bit about Maori culture and saw some amazing geological features.
They have a couple of really cool geysers there (not QUITE Ole Faithful, but still…) and the whole area is a smoking, bubbling cauldron of boiling mud pits and steam vents. Really really cool.
We then stopped at Lake Taupo on our way to our destination for the next two days, Tongariro National Park. THE VERY SLOPES OF MOUNT DOOM.
On day 3, we did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
This will be fully detailed in its own blog post. But for now, suffice it to say that one really REALLY REALLY does not “simply walk” into Mordor.
That’ll do it for today. More to come soon!