I’VE been travelling around New Zealand these past two weeks with my daughters, making the trek from one end to the other.
It’s their first overseas trip, and first time to New Zealand for us all.
There was a few reasons for going there; first there was the desire to check an item off the old bucket list, as you tend to want to do after you hit the big four-o. Sharing a big adventure with my girls, was a memory I really wanted them to have. Then there was the geek factor, we decided to find The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit filming locations.
About two days into our journey, I realised that about 80 per cent of New Zealand’s roads resembled goat tracks. And every second vehicle I came across was a camper van that was almost always being driven on the wrong side of the road, by lost German tourists also embarking on their own once in a life time adventure.
After a serious discussion with the navman about avoiding the roads less travelled, because I’m fairly sure there are rules about taking the rental car on dirt roads, we settled in for what turned out to be the most spectacular road trip I’ve had to date. Albeit a somewhat hair raising one, given the mammoth landslides we encountered on the South Island. Armco safety railings are apparently for wusses in New Zealand.
First big stop was at the Shire, and we got a taste of just how big The Lord of the Rings movies are in New Zealand. Every tour guide we met at different places had been in the movies in some way. They even have a Minister for The Lord of the Rings, if director Peter Jackson needs something he has a direct line to call, as one would expect if they are singlehandedly responsible for saving a nations economy.
Everything about New Zealand is larger than life, the gigantic mountains and trees are just unbelievably huge. While this has more to do with the fact that the land has a healthy coating of fertile volcanic ash, the experiences waiting for you at just about every pit stop are also massive.
We climbed snow capped mountains and glaciers, where I had to stop my children bickering, because sibling rivalry doesn’t stop just because you are standing at the face of a glacier. Ah the joys of motherhood. We lunched on top of an active volcano, and bathed in its boiling waters that night. This was just a small taste of New Zealand, there was still so much to do that we didn’t get time for.
It begs the question; what do kiwis think when they get to Australia? As landscapes go ours can be pretty special, but it sure doesn’t come close to grand scale that the locals at Queenstown can see out their kitchen window. Are they underwhelmed? Does this explain why every tour operator teased us about being Australian, and presumed we needed to find a pub? We need to drink to liven things up around here possibly? I didn’t give it this much thought at the time, I was too busy trying to trick them into saying fish and chips, but I had no luck.
Our trek took us to Mordor, Rivendel, the Gardens of Isengard, and Hobbiton - my inner geek was in overdrive. Movie props to touch in awe and extras to meet, and if you were lucky you got to meet a “significant extra”, which was someone whose face you could actually see in movies.
We dressed as Hobbits and Dwarves, and let the fandom take hold and we enjoyed it so much.
Finally collapsing exhausted onto our plane at Queenstown, as it took off we had a fantastic view of the Remarkable mountains and the Milford Sound before heading home.
We begin to cross the ditch back to Australia, when the hostess picked up the mic and announced that fush and chups was on the menu today. Finally. Sweet As Bro.