Not all those who wander are lost: New Zealand South Island

Here continues our Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand, this time in the South Island.

Tuesday 6/13 – “I always imagined that as one journeyed south it got warmer and merrier, until winter was left behind for ever”

Spoiler alert, it doesn’t get warmer as you go south once you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. 

This morning we visited JensHanson, the jeweler who created the One Ring for the movies. They showed us a bunch of different One Rings as well as their takes on the Rings of Aragorn, Galadriel, Elrond, and Gandalf. The One Ring they created is special because of its weight, which you can definitely feel. We also got to pass around the large size ring that was used for the reflection shots you see during the Council of Elrond. Talia and I both bought silver One Rings with the elvish engraving on them; they should be on their way to the US now.

The main event of today, a helicopter ride, unfortunately didn’t happen due to bad weather, but instead we went to the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars. It was an odd combination for a museum, but we had a good time. After lunch, we went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (really not much to do in Nelson).

Family photo in the Ring

Wednesday 6/14 – “The Road goes ever on and on”

Today was 100% a travel day, from Nelson to Christchurch. On the drive, we finished  watching Fellowship and watched all of Two Towers. I started reading Two Towers but it was slow going as I of course had to watch the Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippen parts of the movie, leaving only the Frodo and Sam parts for reading time.

Thursday 6/15 – “There stands aloft a great hall of Men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold.”

This was quite possibly my favorite day of the tour, even though I slipped in mud and fell twice. We visited Edoras! It was a 30 minute hike up to the top of the rock where the Golden Hall once stood and was quite difficult going, but it was amazing at the top. The recognizability of the spot coupled with the spectacular views made for an unforgettable day. We took lots of pictures with Julie’s Rohan flag. It was on the way down that I slipped for the first time – 3 of us slipped on the muddy hill.

We stopped at two pretty lakes then had dinner at our hotel in Twizel, which happens to be the only hotel in Twizel. 

Edoras, where the Golden Hall stood
Forth Eorlingas!

Friday 6/16 – “Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!”

Alternate quote: “20 ks off the road stuck in a shed with a farmer and a mannequin” -Ian the Real Farmer™

We hit two big filming spots today, Pellenor Fields and the Laketown refugee camp. At Pellenor fields we recreated Theoden’s speech and the charge of the riders of Rohan. I played an orc during both takes as I didn’t want to risk running down a hill and slipping again.

At Laketown we met Ian, Real Farmer™ of Tazman Downs. He showed us his little steam engine,  his shoe Ferris wheel, his mannequin Robert, his motorized cooler, and his movie theater trailer that can be pulled by tractor. We loaded into the movie theater seats and he took us to where they filmed the Laketown refugee scenes. Unlike the other sites we’ve seen, Ian was left with some set pieces from the Refugee scene, so we played around on those for a bit before getting back on the road.

This evening we arrived in our final city, Queenstown.

You didn’t believe me about the cooler car did you?

Saturday 6/17 – “I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are evil.”

For the final day of the organized tour, we stopped at a ton of different filming sites. We took photos at the locations of the orc funeral pyre (Two Towers), entering Fangorn Forest, and calling Shadowfax. We crossed a bridge over River Anduin (seen just after the Fellowship leaves Lothlorien), then finally to the spot where Frodo and Sam leave the Fellowship and Boromir’s body is sent into the river.

Our lovely orc funeral pyre
Our Frodo at the breaking of the fellowship

Sunday 6/18 – “Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid at your feet, though you do not see them.”
The tour technically went until tonight, but we didn’t have any activities during the day. Mom, Talia, and I took a jet boat tour on the Dart River then a four wheeler adventure in the mountains around Queenstown. The river boat ride was beautiful, but we were freezing even with the blankets and raincoats they provided.

After everyone’s activities for the day were done, we all met in the hotel for a farewell dinner. Julie gave out certificates to everyone in the group – Mom got trivia queen and Talia and I got Merry and Pippen, respectively.

Freezing in the jet boat
One last view of Queenstown from the top of the gondola

Monday 6/19 – “We must away ere break of day”

We had the moarning free before our flight to Auckland, so we went to breakfast with two of our friends on the tour (hoping to run into Henry Cavill (is that spelled right?) who’s filming something in Queenstown). Mom, Talia, and I then went up the gondola for a view of Queenstown – it never gets old). 

Flying out of Queenstown was spectacular

Tuesday 6/20 – “I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.”

Today was the actual longest day ever – I was awake for 32 hours. Coincidentally this is the same amount of time I was awake for my journey from Madrid to Bangkok, but since that trip technically covered two days, this one gets the longest day ever title. Our flight left Auckland at 1 pm(ish) on 6/20 and arrived in LA at 5 am on 6/20. We then had a 4 hour layover in LA before our flight to Atlanta. We got to Atlanta about 29 hours later at 8 pm on 6/20.


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