It happened. I was in New Zealand for 18 beautiful days. It’s strange to read this post from about a year ago because at that point I thought I would be going at the end of this year. I’m so happy that I went when I did because my Fellowship was the best (I’m sure people say that every month but I’m right).
I left for NZ on January 1, and my flights were just…not fun. Not to get too personal but I had BAD cramps the entire time, I was grumpy and I just wanted to get to Middle-earth as soon as possible. I arrived in NZ a day before my tour started which I didn’t want to do initially for $$ reasons, but it turned out to be a blessing because it meant I had a little time to recuperate before I met everyone and started my journey. I definitely made the right decision to go with Red Carpet Tours, they took such great care of all of us!
Here are some of the highlights from my trip. 🙂
- I met Shane Rangi and sat across from him during the welcome dinner!!! It was amazing but the entire time I couldn’t figure out where to look — do I watch him eat? Do I very obviously not look at him?? He is a really nice guy and I still can’t believe I met such an inspiring person. I also need to add that he called James Cameron “Jim”, and if that’s not one of the greatest things you’ve ever heard I don’t know what to tell you.
- I WENT TO HOBBITON!!!!! I have cried just thinking about going there but when I saw everything in person I didn’t shed one tear. I was more in a daze, it didn’t feel like it was really happening! I loved it of course, but I have some thoughts to share on the entire experience. I’ll save that for later.
- I didn’t expect this to happen but the Trollshaws location turned out to be one of my favorite places! I’ve seen some beautiful scenery in my travels but WOW, everything was so blue and green and vibrant!
- I learned that most of the world calls pineapples “ananas”, and that ended up being a very intense topic for the rest of the trip.
- We got a special presentation from Daniel Falconer (basically Weta royalty) who I was lucky to meet last October at NYCC. If I wasn’t such a pile of anxiety I would have asked for another photo. Next time! Then soon after we met RICHARD TAYLOR, caps necessary. Pretty sure when I turned around and saw him I gasped/screamed, I don’t know it all happened to fast. After that I spent 80% of my NZ budget at the Weta Cave, not surprising.
- Later that day we visited the folks at Meniscus and make our own leather key chain/necklace. BUT the thing I need to get out is that I MET JED BROPHY. And I’ll tell you the whole story. So since the Meniscus shop isn’t big enough to house the almost 40 people in my Fellowship, we split up in two groups. So while Group 1 was at the shop, Group 2 (me included) stayed behind at a cafe. Deanna, a Wellington RCT volunteer was with us, and while I was too busy admiring the ocean she quickly talked to someone. She came over to us and said “Do you know who just walked into the cafe?” And I shit you not, I thought “If she says Jed Brophy I am going to scream.” She said it was Jed and my roommate and I yelled “JED BROPHY???” So the people in my group went back inside to see him and even though he was having lunch with a friend he agreed to take photos with us. I honestly don’t remember what I said, it was probably something stupid. So afterward we all went back outside and suffered the Wellington winds and who came outside later? JED. He talked a little to Deanna and the only thing I was able to do was stare and hit my roommate because I was so excited. In case it isn’t already easy to tell, Jed is one of my favorite human beings. Telling my friends that I met him was hilarious because most of the responses involved the word “FINALLY!!”
- As if seeing Shane, Daniel F., Richard, and Jed wasn’t enough, the next day we met Daniel Reeve. DANIEL REEVE. He created all the maps, the “No Admittance” sign, he wrote in the Red Book of Westmarch!!! The guy is pretty much an art god to me. And I just need to tell you that he really does write perfectly straight, I’ve witnessed it and it’s amazing.
- A couple days later we visited the Jens Hansen shop and met Halfdan! I mentioned that I was the winner of their first One Ring tumblr giveaway — which was back in 2012 — and he remembered!
- To help the time go by faster, our tour guide, Julie, did a Tolkien quiz and I placed in second! I was aiming for first but it’s fine because I got to be a captain of a team for the last round and we won. 😉
- Later in the day we went kayaking from the barrel scene. It was a very eventful day, there was a capsize and I got stung by some demon insect that gave me a bacteria infection but I’ll talk about that in another post.
- WE CLIMBED UP EDORAS! I didn’t know the trek up Mt. Sunday would be so intense, but once we made it to the top, all my feelings of exhaustion disappeared. That was the place where Meduseld stood! Where Eowyn stood elegantly in the wind (oh my god that wind was ridiculous, I don’t know why I even bothered to try and make my hair look presentable that day).
- The next day we went to the Pelennor Fields and Lake-town refugee locations. We got to charge and scream DEATH, Theoden would have been proud. And Lake Pukaki, oh my god. Gorgeous location! I can’t even begin to describe the bizarre time we had there. I’ll tell you about Ian, the owner, and his 1950’s movie seat transport system another day.
- Another location we went to was where Pippin dropped his leaf brooch. I’ll never forget Marion’s impression of Gimli! I’ll need to figure out how to post the video on my blog.
- The second to last day of the tour we went to the Breaking of the Fellowship location, it hurt how fitting that was. I miss everyone!
- The final day we all did different things, 10 of us did a “Touching Middle-earth Tour”. We went to a few more LOTR locations and played around with weapons. You don’t even know how excited I was to see Herugrim!!
- I was sad to say goodbye to the people I spent two weeks with but I was also excited because when I got back to Auckland I met Sophie!! We became friends four years ago on tumblr (so many embarrassing memories of our LOTR graphics and gifs). Then the next day I had lunch with Dallas Barnett, Bill Ferny Sr. from DOS! Such a hilarious guy.
- I also need to talk about how our bus driver on the North Islands was named Wayne, our bus driver on the South Islands was named Wayne…and the taxi driver who drove some of us to the Queenstown airport on the last day was also a Wayne. Every time I meet a Wayne I’ll think of NZ. ❤