The Travelling Series
One of the main reasons that I chose to travel around New Zealand was the fact that I'm a massive Lord of the Rings fan. Everyone who's anyone knows that the films were shot there by Peter Jackson (the Kiwi director from Wellington) and, as a result, the scenery that features in the films is just stunning.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to visit Hobbiton in Matamata during my Stray journey around the North Island and it's something that I'll never ever forget. What the film crew have done there is absolutely amazing. Like Elijah Wood has previously said: you don't have to imagine that you're in Hobbiton because you are actually in it. It's inspired by the British countryside and it feels like such a magical place - I was like a big kid running around it!
I'd heard beforehand that the actual tour is not very good as they rush you around in preparation for the next tour, but I didn't find that at all. Our tour guide let us mooch around in our own time; there were a few occasions where we were lagging behind at the back of the group but we could just make our way back to the group when we were ready - no pressure and no questions asked! I think they understand that every nerd needs to get their fix before they have to leave.
At the end of the tour we actually got to have a pint in The Green Dragon, the pub based in Hobbiton, and it was such an awesome moment!
Kane and I took a couple of hundred photos that day but it was so worth it when I look back at them all (even if we did get a photo with every hobbit hole possible and some of them are practically identical)!
A few days later I got to fangirl some more when we visited Wellington for the first time (or Wellywood, as it's now commonly known, due to the fact that Peter Jackson built his post-production studios there).
We went on a tour that features locations from the LOTR films, including the forest in the shire from the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring where the Hobbits set off on their journey, and then we got to go to the Weta Cave and Workshop. This was the place where the props for LOTR and The Hobbit were designed and created so we got to see a lot of super cool stuff!
Weta also did a lot of digital special effects on the films and we were told that they are currently working on the final Hobbit film which is due out in cinemas in December! Exciting!
I loved being in New Zealand as every landscape that you drive past, every mountain and every river, might just have featured in Lord of the Rings. The whole country just resonates Middle Earth in all it's glory. It's absolutely beautiful and, at times, completely breathtaking.
Next up: the South Island.