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