Any reader — serious or casual — holds one book more closely than all others they’ve read. Mine is The Hobbit.
I fell in love with Bilbo’s Middle Earth as a 10-year-old and wrapped myself in the universe like a warm blanket. It was a place of adventure, of bravery, of magic. It still is.
Say what you will about the movies, but they took me back to that place again — and they also gave me a place in the real world where I could find myself transported to another. So it was that when Warren and I arrived in New Zealand, we kept our eyes peeled for filming locations.
In some ways, you don’t have to look far at all: the whole country looks like it came out of Middle Earth. The mountains, the forests, the lush, green hills, it’s all there.
In other cases, it takes a keen eye to spot the scenes from the movies. It took two trips to Mount Victoria with our Wellington friend to find the place where Frodo and friends jump off the road to hide from ring wraiths in The Fellowship of the Ring. (Even as I write this, I’m aware of how fanboyish that sounds. I promise, that’s as deep as I’ll get.)
These are just a few of the LOTR-themed things we’ve seen in New Zealand.
Things I’ve seen:
What a treat. We spent the better part of a morning wandering through the Shire, strolling past Bilbo’s house and countless other Hobbit holes. The set was actually torn down after the Lord Of The Rings films and was painstakingly recreated for The Hobbit films years later — right down to making the now-permanent set appear to have been made from the same temporary supplies that were used the first time around.
2. Mount Doom.
You can climb the real Mount Doom if you want to — it’s an active volcano called Mount Ngauruhoe, found in Tongariro National Park. It takes an iron will, though — the trail for the climb starts after you’ve already been walking for three hours, with another three hours to go after returning from the climb.
3. “Get Off The Road!”
The aforementioned scene from The Fellowship Of The Ring. We tried forever to find the tree trunk where Frodo and friends hide from the ring wraiths after jumping off the path, but it was a fool’s errand in a forest full of them — not to mention that the scene was shot over 15 years ago.
What I’ve been reading/listening to:
Ben Canaider – How To Drink Absolutely Everything
The Tragically Hip – Yer Favourites
Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why”