March 09, 2005
Jody writes:

See our Hobbiton pictures.

The Lord of the Rings score boomed through our bus stereo as we headed to Hobbiton. Brochures featuring authentic replicas of swords, armour and the One Ring (now mass-produced in a variety of styles to suit all occasions) from the films was passed round the bus. We'd booked a tour to the set Peter Jackson used as the location for the Hobbit's village in The Fellowship of the Ring. Neither Amy or I are big LOTR devotees, but we knew it would make her dad, Malcolm, damn jealous.

There are loads of LOTR tours now in New Zealand but this is the only one where sets are still standing. On all the others you just have to trust the guides when they say, "See that mountain up there? That's Mount Doom, that is."

We were surprised at how good the tour was. There was only one diehard LOTR fan who must have taken 300 pictures (admittedly, we probably took 100), but sadly no one came dressed as Gandalf. I thought about it, but I didn't have space in my weekly budget to shell out for a cloak and white beard.

The site was huge. The crew had gone to great effort to remove every trace of New Zealand - dressing up native trees with extra branches and leaves to make them look like English oak. We posed for photos in front of tens of Hobbit houses that upon review, all look pretty much the same. We also hugged The Party Tree. And stepped in lots of sheep poo.

After the tour we fed some sheep that the farmer keeps as pets. These lucky lambs live a life of luxury and will never end up in the supermarket. Two dippy girls accompanied us on the tour and realising that the pet sheep had names, asked whether the other 1,200 sheep the farmer owns have names too. They're probably referred to as 'meat,' I thought.

Amy was bitten on her EYELID by a mosquito the other day (ouch!). Noticing her bulging eyelid, our Hobbiton guide offered some advice on bringing down the swelling. Apparently it's an old Maori remedy to rub a gold ring (the One Ring, perhaps?) on swollen eyes to cool them. Hokum maybe, but it was a much more pleasant solution than the other Maori advice offered by a passing woman the other day. "Rub urine into your eye," she said. Though I offered to help out however I could, Amy's sticking to antibiotics.

I'm really enjoying New Zealand. The place is beautiful - it's all hills and livestock. Yesterday Amy and I went to Hell's Gate - a geothermic national park with a spa tacked to the side of it. We wandered around bubbling mud pools and breathed in the sulphuric waters (which blow-out eggy steam) and later went for a mud bath and spa - both heated by steam piped from the Earth's crust. It was beyond relaxing - we felt utterly knackered for the rest of the day and I had to have a nap in the afternoon. I was thinking of having a beer at lunchtime too, but that would have probably finished me off and forced me into a coma.

We leave Rotorua today and start making our way towards Wellington and then the South island. We've got a seven-hour hike through Tongariro National Park to look forward to before we reach our destination on Sunday.

posted at 1:27 PM | link


  • i knew you'd love that place! i certainly did... there are loads of places in the south island to do LOTR tours too (although maybe one is enough!).

    wellington is a really cool city, try and go to the museum. i stayed at the base backpackers, which was quite nice.

    not sure if you met him ever, but my friend robin (mark's friend), has just emmigrated to NZ, and is currently in Christchurch. he will be moving down the coast to wanaka, which is where he plans to live... YOU MUST GO TO WANAKA. it is beautiful. even if just for a day... his email address is muddy_funksta@hotmail.com if you want to get in contact.

    will be v weird if you are in christchurch for Paddy's day, cos that's where i was! was v drunken.
    (shock horror).

    anyway enough from me. good luck with the glacier - try not to fall down a hole like me (i still have the scars).

    love you,
    danielle xxx

    By Blogger The Berg, at 10:57 AM  

  • Hi guys from Mexico! I'm pretending I'm a backpacker like you guys...sadly only for 2 weeks then home to job. If you´re hiking over mount tongariro - be prepared. For me personally it was the hardest hike of our whole year - even harder than the Inca trail. I hope for your sake it isn´t snowing,cos it about 2 feet of snow when we did it, hence why I was near to tears.
    South Island is wicked. Make sure you go up to 'the luge' in queenstown up on the hill and go in these little cart things.
    (Will email you soon Ames...)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 AM  

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Jody and Amy have finished their 10 month adventure around the world, that began Nov 2, 2004, and ended Sep 2, 2005. They're back home in London now, doing normal things, like going to work and drinking tap water. You can see a map of what was their planned route, but we didn't quite follow it.
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