Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lord of the Rings: Rivendell

With the upcoming movie, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", all things Lord of the Rings seem to be creeping back into view, and I am getting really excited about it all.

For those who don't know why I am excited, I will say now.... I am a writer, and my tutor was Robert Neale... who was a student of Tolkien.  Being a Drama student at uni during the filming of the LOTR movies, I was so happy to be free enough to get involved in the films, it was amazing.  Then this year I had the chance to meet Sir Ian McKellan and perform on stage with him... then I took my class to Hobbiton, and we were invited on set with the academy award winning set designer Ronald Hunter for "The Hobbit"... and we even went to Weta Workshops.  It has been a total LOTR year.  Basically, I keep thinking that there is a deep connection between me and Tolkien... there isn't.  There is just a lot of coincidence.

ANYWAY.... After the LOTR films, a lot of the filming locations were packed up, or just mentioned in guidebooks.  Now they are becoming more .... well.... interactive.  Rivendell, where the Elves live in the books, was built at Kaitoke Regional Park, near Upper Hutt, in the Wellington area.

Recently, like, really really happening right now, are the signs going up in the area.  Before this, people had to know it was there, and use the power of imagination to go into the movie.
The Entrance to Rivendell

The sign identifying the entrance to Rivendell is now up, filled with information.  There are now pathways leading into the area, and labeling what is what.  And these are beautiful signs, hand carved and everything.  This whole area is free to enter, and completely accessible.  With public toilets and a great car park, Rivendell even has wheelchair access! 

My friend Cole and I entering Rivendell
 Unfortunately, I tend to become a bit of a fan-girl and should be banned from visiting some places...

Measuring myself to discover I am a perfect height for a wizard
As you can see, we visited during the construction phase of the signs.  Being able to measure yourself against the height of the characters is a nice touch.  The bush and river is beautiful, and a great way of spending time in the Hutt Valley.  Easily this could be part of a larger trip.  With several walks in the area from a 10 minute swing-bridge loop walk, to an hour bush walk, to an all day walk to Te Marua, walking is popular.  I had ankle surgery 3 weeks ago and easily completed the short walks and Rivendell without any issue whatsoever.

Kaitoke Regional Park has excellent facilities for toilets and camping, and is very cheap, run by the Department of Conservation.  Kitchen facilities (aka gas BBQ's) are available at a few dollars a pop.  With a selection of rivers and inlets to swim at, it is a brilliant location.  Large open areas are perfect for playing games, and dogs are permitted, as long as you keep them restrained in the bush, and clean up after them.

I cannot speak highly enough of the trip to Rivendell.  Not only is it well thought out, beautiful, free and easily accessible, it is a real slice of movie history.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Destination Friday

At this end of the year, my mind wanders to places that I could go, things I want to see, and people I want to meet.  Michael Palin has been a hero of mine for as long as I can remember, and just a few weeks ago, I heard him speak, met him, and got his autograph.  Everything about him was amazing and he left me inspired to travel further.

Michael Palin is of course one of the key members of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and host of "Around the World in 80 Days", "Pole to Pole", "Sahara", "Full Circle", "New Europe" and "Brazil".
You may notice I am on crutches in the photo, ankle surgery, but I am almost fully mended now. 

And what of your own adventures?  Link up here and I promise to read all your entries. :D

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Samoa... looks like a go-go!

Well, it looks like January will be spent in Samoa, which I'm quite excited about.

We are looking at all the awesome things we can do, from horse-riding (Okay, I admit to having a small love affair with horse riding every possible holiday), to snorkelling, to exploring islands to the Robert Louis Stephenson museum. 

Mostly I am looking forward to getting away for a bit.  By then I will either need a shoulder to cry on because I get rejected from my Masters application, or I will need a nice breather before spending a year working on a creative writing thesis!  Crazy.  So, for now it is the waiting game.  And I need to re-new my passport. ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Where the Ocean meets the Sea

Where the Blue meets the Green

Cape Reinga, New Zealand.
Here is where the Tasman Sea meets with the Pacific Ocean.  Spine chilling.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One Ring to Rule them all: Hobbiton New Zealand

Probably the most timely place to blog about is Hobbiton in New Zealand.... given the release of "The Hobbit" shortly.

Hidden in rural New Zealand, Matamata is a great place.  Just out of town is Hobbiton, and the tours of the movie set.  Through a project with Peter Jackson, the farm owner, New Line Cinema and some very very very timely weather changes, the set of Hobbiton was left on the farm and allowed to be opened as a tourist attraction. 

Used even more recently in "The Hobbit", Hobbiton is beautiful in its movie splendor.  Walking around is magical, and will turn children into even the most hardened adults.  Expanded from the original Lord of the Rings films, extra hobbit-holes have been built and the area is even more beautiful.

The tour guide is amazing, sharing insights from the film, the area and everything else you can imagine.  I was privileged to be allowed behind-the-scenes as it were for photos and exploration. 

The next element to open at Hobbiton is the pub.  Set to open in December, and I plan on heading there with my friend Johanna to have a few pints of Hobbit Ale, "The Green Dragon" will round out a wonderful location for all to enjoy.

Catching the 'Gandalf' bus from Shire's Rest

My gorgeous class arriving at the first hobbit hole

The level of detail is astounding

By the lake.

Looking across Hobbiton

The one ring showing Samwise's house where he proposed

The lake and the "Green Dragon" pub

Behind the gate of Frodo Baggin's house!  Sitting on the steps where Gandalf and Frodo tussled and fell

Friday, November 9, 2012

My love of the beyond

I love traveling, and if I could, my life would be one trip after another.

This year has been chaos, but it hasn't been without its joys.  I have managed some amazing journeys in and around New Zealand which I am going to fill you all in on.

And now is the time for plans.  We have been tossing up where to go in January.  Either Rarotonga or Samoa.  I am now leaning towards Samoa, and lots of lying on beaches.  After the chaos of this year, a whole lot of tranquility is what I need in the near future. 

But, enough of that.  Soon you can look forward to a few local rants, from in and around the Waikato, and Northland.  More lakes and beaches. :D

Friday, April 20, 2012

Destination Friday: Anything with a Beach

The weather is cooling here, and as much as I like falling leaves and roaring fires, I miss the beach. I was never much of a beach-bunny growing up, but when I finally learned to swim (about 5 years ago) I found myself loving being near water. The price I pay is sunburn... and a lot of it. But, thank goodness for rash-vests and SPF 80 sunscreen.
A secluded beach off of Va'vau in Tonga
The beach always seems so primal to me, real, and untouched. Living in the country means a trip to the beach is rugged, and isolated, which I love. When traveling beaches remind me of home, because the oceans all touch each other. Every drop of water is a drop closer to home, and all the things I miss, all the things I'd rather forget, and a reminder that we are all only separated by space. People are the same, the world over, we just look different, speak different and have different aspirations. Other than that, we long for home, we seek our own adventures and we carry on carrying on.

So this week, where is your happy place? Link up any travel related post, or just a post that shows where you are happiest. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Into the Abyss

Thanks for visiting.  Please feel free to follow my blog, and share your Wordless Wednesday images below.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Destination Friday: The Wonders of Nature

Today my caterpillars are finally emerging from their cocoons as butterflies.  And I just think about all the wonderful moments with nature.

One amazing trip many moons ago, we were sailing around the Hauraki Gulf in the "Spirit of New Zealand".  The swells were up, and kids were losing their lunch over the side.  Just when it looked like the situation couldn't get any more dire, the dolphins swarmed the boat.  It was about 200 of them in a pod.  We could see them jumping in the wake by the sides.  Down below, we could see them through the windows.  It was a magical end to the turmoil on the surface.

Where have you come face to face with nature?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Destination Friday: Lazy Rainy Days

Today, it is raining.  So gosh darn raining that the largest outdoor annual market in the Southern Hemisphere was cancelled for the 1st time in 35 years.  Crazy!  I was expecting to be eating market foods, shopping for things I don't need and avoiding pan-flute bands.  Nevermind.
Seeking shelter from the storm, Suva, Fiji
Outside, trees have fallen, some have lost power, and water levels rise.  And did I mention it is cold?  On the 3rd day of Autumn!

Sitting by the fire at my parents house, stealing their internet, life is still okay.  I have my family, and while my plans didn't eventuate, serendipity entered again, and the day is turning out alright.

So, where do you like to go to escape the rain?  Or, just, where do you like to go?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frozen: The Best and the Worst

Skiing and I are not huge friends.  Okay, I like it in theory.... but the reality is the snow is waaaaay to fast under my feet.  I do however enjoy ice skating, and that has to be my winter activity of choice. 

So today, I thought I would share the best and worst of Mount Ruapehu.  The best and the worst of everything, on back to back days.  The first day was so hot we ended up skiing in tee shirts and sunbathing on the snow.  The following day was white out conditions, slopes being closed and heading home early.

The best of the frozen day?  Well, other than ankle blisters popping - turns out I was wearing ski boots that were a little too snug - having to buy a new scarf because I had lost mine in the snow somewhere, and generally dealing with a mountain full of people all stuck by the carpark, there were great times.  The hot chocolate was amazing, the people were wonderful, and we had plenty of time to create prank photos.

Coming down from Mount Ruapehu
The Ski Lesson.....
Notice all those horrid clouds in the background!  Shocking weather
The next morning.  We did not snowboard... but it looks like we did, right?
Toughing out the weather
Riding the ski lift.....
And posing for photographs.... :D

Don't ever believe that I am grown up and sensible!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Swimming with the Swallows

While in Tonga we visited the Swallows Cave, off Va'vau.  The trip was amazing.  Inside the cave, the water was so clear that we could see the bottom of the ocean 50 metres below.  Fish swam, and so did we.  Above us, the swallows nested in their mud nests, precariously clinging to the ceiling of the cave.

The cave itself seems to be somewhere that people, both local and tourists, write their names in the rock.  Generally people seemed annoyed by it, but given that locals have been heading out, and climbing as high as they can in the cave to write their name, or the name of a loved one on the wall, it was hard not to see something so simple and delightful in it.  Something like a local flavour of carving initials in a tree.

Destination Friday: Sun-seeking

Today it has been windy, and a little wet.  To me this translates as time spent dreaming of peace and quiet, and a little sun time.  Usually beaches on secluded islands capture my imagination, but often I prefer to find seclusion in the woods.

Capturing my imagination, of locations in the sun.....

We used to live backing onto National Forest.  Wood pigeons, or Kereru, used to sing and fly around the back garden.  Walking up the back end of the section, and I really mean up.... this National Park was on a mountain range.... reality disappeared into the trees.  After climbing about 20 metres, to the top of our property, the land evened out onto a plateau.  Here I used to sit, watching the birds, listening to the sound of the river just over the road from our house.

So, where do you dream about when you think of seeking bliss in the sun?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Destination Friday - Something so Perfect

The weather here today is stunning, blue skies, warm sun, and above all else, quiet.  It is a perfect day for reflecting on perfect days in the sun.

Dravuni Island, Fiji.  The only problem was overcrowding. :P

During my last trip to Fiji, we had perfect days.  We managed to follow the bad weather, leaving us with perfect skies, green vegetation, and just enough water to dampen the dirt tracks, so dust was at a minimum.  Unfortunately for Fiji, massive floods followed our visit, which was totally unbelievable and shocking to see on the evening news.

So this linky is all about perfection.  Where is your perfect destination?  What happened there?  What do you look for in a holiday?  Or just link up any travel or vacation related post.  Peace.

Monday, February 6, 2012

More Island Time

After spending a veritable lifetime in and out of hospitals with the husband, it is time to remember what happened up until the day before the first visit.... we were back in the islands!  Best of all, we were there with my whole family, which made for instant rent-a-friends as well as entertainment value.

There will be more posted on the locations and what we did in a short while, but for now, some images from the nicest places to visit; Fiji and Tonga.  Both islands were filled with poor people, but rich in personality and generousity.  I would go back in a heart beat.