Posts Tagged With: middle earth

Our 9 favourite things about New Zealand

We’ve spent five and a half months travelling and working around New Zealand, been to both islands twice and loved every minute of it! Here is a quick list, off the top of our heads, of why we’ve loved it:

1. It’s so beautiful
There are mountains everywhere! And incredible lakes, beaches, forests, rivers, waterfalls, gorges. The whole country is just stunning.

2. It’s not too big and not too small
You can get from one end to the other fairly easily and it’s packed with good stuff to see!

3. The accent

4. There’s no one here!
Well hardly anyone, relatively speaking. There are only 4ish million people in New Zealand, compared to the UK’s 63 million. We have been to so many beautiful and interesting places where we are the only ones there.

5. The New Zealand Frenzy Guidebook
This book is the most awesome guide book ever. It’s full of free, off the beaten track type activities and we have used it everywhere we have been.

6. Helpx
We’ve seen and done things and met people we’d never have experienced otherwise; including sheep shearing, wall building, motorbike riding, cow mustering, fruit picking and of course, scrubbing!

7. The DoC
Everywhere you go, in the towns or in the middle of nowhere, you can usually rely on there being a green and yellow Department of Conservation sign leading to a walk, waterfall, tramp, view or something awesome.

8. It’s actually Middle Earth
Excluding a few towers and citadels, New Zealand looks pretty much exactly like it does in the Trilogy. We should know, we’ve been to ALOT of film locations.

9. The people
People here are so welcoming, laid back and nice. Strangers say hello to you in the street (in a nice way, not a crazy way).

New Zealand is the best!

New Zealand is the best!

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South of the North

Cruising out of the Marlborough Sounds, we were a bit sad to be leaving the South Island but really excited to get back to Wellington. We’d had a good time there back in February with Jon, experiencing the sights, wind and the Weta Cave (twice) in just a couple of days, and so were glad to have a sorted out a helpx there.

We had the best week with Tony and Lynnda. As soon as Tony picked us up from the ferry, we hit it off, and were happily chatting on the way back to their place. They live in Johnsonville, a suburb just outside Wellington, in an amazing house. It sits up the side of a hill, and has ceiling to floor windows with spectacular views across the valley, where we were able to see a few good sunsets and some pretty intense wind and rain!

Our lovely Wellington. Helpx hosts Tony and. Lynnda.

Our lovely Wellington Helpx hosts Tony and Lynnda.

Tony and Lynnda made us feel right at home, and we had a lot of great food which we’ll now need to walk off a bit! They made sure that we made the most of our time Wellington, and really emphasised the exchange part of the programme. We did a variety of odd jobs around the house and garden (which is also amazing), hopefully helping out enough to earn our excellent part of the bargain.

On the windy and rainy days they helped us out loads with planning the rest of our time on the North Island, giving us tips and hints on some great free things to do and see. They’ve also travelled extensively on the West Coast of the US, so we did a lot of planning for our time in the States in July and August. On the nicer days, we went out into Welly, walking around the harbours and visiting the museums. We also walked up Mount Kaukau, which we could see from their house, and from where we could see 360 degrees of Wellington, out to sea, across the Cook Strait all the way down to the Kaikoura mountains and north across the hills.

The view from Mount Kaukau over to Wellington city.

The view from Mount Kaukau over to Wellington city.

We got on really well with Tony and Lynnda, and are really thankful they picked us. The trip out in Lynnda’s Hot Rod was a definite highlight, but hanging out and chatting, as well as playing with the grand kids, was just as much fun!

Cruisin' in the Hot. Rod

Cruisin’ in the Hot Rod

After we said our goodbyes and struck out on our own again, the first thing was to pick up our new car. We got a super cheap deal, working out at around $15 per day, and for the first time all honeymoon we got upgraded so this car is actually quite nice. We drove all around the Wellington harbour peninsula, stopping for a quick sightsee up Mount Victoria (Kaukau’s view is better) as well as a third trip to the Weta Cave. Just as awesome as before.

The Wellywood sign

The Wellywood sign

We then left Welly, heading out and the looping South down toward Cape Palliser, the North Island’s most southerly point. Considering we’re so close to the capital, this area has a really wild and rugged feel. On the way, we detoured to Kaitoke Park and hung out where they built the sets for Rivendell. It felt quite geeky wandering around with our LOTR locations book, but it was a really nice and homely spot.

Hunting for Hobbits

Hunting for Hobbits

Rivendell in Kaitoke Park

Rivendell in Kaitoke Park

We stopped for the night at Lake Ferry, which has a real edge of the world feel to it. Whilst the few houses there seemed empty and we were the only people at the campsite, the hotel / pub’s open mic night was surprisingly busy! We left as they started the duelling banjos… The following morning we ventured all the way South, and to another great LOTR location – the Puturangi Pinnacles, which featured as the Dimholt Road. Amazingly weird geological features of rocky spires shooting up the valley along the riverbed.

The Pinnacles aka The Dimholt Road

The Pinnacles aka The Dimholt Road

The way is shut

The way is shut

We also enjoyed Martinborough, Masterton and a really nice walk through the Manawatu Gorge, and then head to another help-x for a few days to look after animals and pick kiwi fruit in Wanganui. Our CVs are getting better all the time!

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