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You are probably one of the many people who think that if you’re going to travel to the other side of the world, it’s because you want to see Australia. But that’s really only because you probably don’t know a lot about New Zealand. I will concede that Australia has some very good looking people, but may I also remind you that everything else living in that country wants to kill you? No lie, I saw about 10,000 jellyfish in Sydney Harbor and at least twenty 5” spiders and I was IN THE CITY. That is nightmare fuel for what lives in the rest of the country. New Zealand doesn’t have snakes, or flesh eating marsupials that drop from the trees (don’t fact check me on that), or murderous tarantulas. They have kiwi birds, fur seals, Hobbits, and friendly stray cats.
I didn’t know a lot about New Zealand before Peter Jackson made The Lord of the Rings films 15 years ago. He showed the world what his country had to offer in breath taking diverse scenery that, for a while, I didn’t even realize weren’t CGI backgrounds. These places that JRR Tolkien dreamed up for Middle Earth were real! Only he didn’t know he was imagining these islands in the South Pacific. I started dreaming about a trip but it was a long time before it finally happened. And it was worth the wait.
Once again I packed up a couple of costumes, and set out on an adventure. You might remember from my Scotland trip, that I don’t travel like most people. I see locations as opportunities to have the ultimate backdrop for my weird hobby. Also I have no shame in walking around in fake, overly large, hairy feet.
And the weirdest couples costume award goes to….
Samwise Gamgee’s Hobbit House
The Mill and Green Dragon Pub in the background where a free Hobbiton brewed beer was included on the tour!
I knew New Zealand was famous for wine, and I sampled A LOT of it. But what I didn’t realize was that there are also micro-breweries popping up everywhere. While I was following a Middle Earth locations map, my husband was following a beer map. You can find amazing places to relax with a drink and homemade food after a hike in the middle in nowhere. Quite literally. I couldn’t believe these places existed in remote locales. The food in this country was so good!
Sacred Moari springs followed by amazing food and beer samplers
New Zealand is marketed to people who are really intense about die-hard outdoor activities. They’re famous for bungee jumping, helicopter rides, climbing mountains, and jet boat rides. I’m not quite brave enough for most of those things. If you’re into hiking, but not so much that you want to don a backpack and carry a tent, there’s plenty of short walks to the most gorgeous spots. You can travel in comfort and still stretch your legs on less intense “tramps” (yep that’s what British Commonwealth countries call hikes). Don’t forget to bring your own toilet paper because you can drive or walk a long time without any bathrooms to be found. I’m an expert at peeing in the woods. You do what you have to do, girls. Plus you can’t beat the scenery if you’re going to be out there behind some trees in a gorgeous forest or on a mountainside.
Arthur’s Pool, Franz Josef Glacier valley
Getting that Ring to Mordor on top of Mt Ruapehu, a sometimes active volcano that also has 3 ski resorts. Don’t ask me how that works out. Seems crazy.
Lupines in bloom above Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown.
Waterfall hike near Mt. Doom, Tongariro National Park
I’ve been asked so many times “What was your favorite part of the trip?” It’s almost impossible to say. Viewing the sky and milky way in the darkest place I’ve ever been right next to a glacier? Building rock cairns next to the most turquoise waterfall I’ve ever seen? Watching dolphins swim with our boat in the harbor that was the crater of an ancient volcano? Drinking beer, dressed as Frodo, at the Green Dragon Pub in Hobbiton? The serene silence of the Glow Worm caves? Have I made my point clear on how magical this country is yet? I could go on forever.
2,300 miles driven, 109 miles hiked, 20 beer tastings, 2 islands, 2 weeks, 1 fur seal in my suitcase (not really, but I want one. They’re adorable.)
Mt Cook, highest peak in NZ
Sunset in wine county, Nelson, NZ
Pre-dawn glacier hike on Valentine’s Day. Doesn’t get more romantic than that!
Straight outta Gondor….no Aragorn to be found though.
Fur seals. I can’t even with this cuteness.
Glow worm caves, Waitomo.
And last, I’ll throw in a photo with a Koala since I said rude things about Australia. Not all things there are bad. They have these adorbs tree huggers…and Chris Hemsworth.
Follow my travel and costume adventures on Instagram: @Bieberfish
Natasha’s Current Obsessions:Historical dramas, travel, bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica, sometimes Outlander, always Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, cats, and becoming the geeky version of Martha Stewart. Follow her on Instagram @Bieberfish
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