Well, I’m back.

February 27

Today was literally the longest day of my life. Since I crossed back over the International Date Line and gained the time I lost on the way to New Zealand (skipped February 3rd!) February 27th was a 44 hour day for me! I had arranged for a shuttle to pick me up at the hostel to take me to the airport. It picked me up at 8am and took me the short distance to the Queenstown Airport. The airport is extremely tiny. I weighed my bags and my checked bag was right at the limit! I checked in for my Auckland flight and then headed through security. When it was time to board that lady just cals out “Who wants to go to Auckland”. Air New Zealand is such a laid back airline πŸ™‚

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This time the screens were working so I got to see the Hobbit Safety Video! We also got a choice of snack and I had the BBQ crisps – they were really good! The flight was just less than 2 hours. I spent the time watching the mountains outside and answering the trivia questions on screen. The flight went very fast and we were in Auckland in no time.

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I had to collect my bag in Auckland because I booked it separate from my international flight. The domestic and international terminals are not attached so I had to haul my suitcase across the airport property. It was a 10 minute hike outside – I enjoyed the last bit of warm weather I’m going to get for awhile! Once inside I found the Air New Zealand check in and dropped my bag off. I had a long layover but decided to stay at the airport. I had spent 4 days in downtown Auckland at the beginning of my trip so there wasn’t anything I wanted to see. I also didn’t want to chance something causing me to miss my flight. I went through customs and then had a budget meal at Burger King πŸ™‚ I spent the layover exploring the airport and watching planes. Because of the time difference it I would be repeating much of the day again in San Francisco.

IMG_20150227_1508573:15pm on February 27 – waiting for my second of four flights today!

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Sadly I was not able to spot the Smaug or Hobbit plane. I spent the last of my New Zealand money on one more meal (I had the exact amount of change left!). It was then time to go to my gate and board my flight back to North America! Boarding ended up being about 20 minutes late. It was a full flight and I had a window seat again. All the video screens were working so I got to see the Hobbit Safety Video again. It’s so much better when you can see it on the plane – but a little sad because this flight is actually taking me away from Middle-earth 😦

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I started watching An Unexpected Journey. It was very bitter sweet. I loved seeing the places we went to but I already miss our Fellowship. Dinner came and I had the chicken curry – again, quite good for airline food. I also had one last Speight’s beer. I finished the first Hobbit movie and then started Desolation of Smaug since I wasn’t tired enough to sleep yet. I made it about halfway before I went to sleep. I woke up and finished DoS and then when back to sleep. I slept for about 5 hours total. The second time I woke up I started watching Battle of the Five Armies (yes, there were some tears – some for the movie but mostly for missing the Fellowship). Breakfast came while I was watching the movie. Not as good as the other meals I’ve had on Air New Zealand but still better than other airline food.

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Pretty soon we were landing in San Fran! We landed and it was just after 11am on February 27 – I had traveled back in time and landed before I took off! Once off the plan I headed towards the US customs. The line was super long but I had lots of time before my next flight. Eventually they opened more lanes and I got through to the other side. I had to pick my luggage up again. Once out of customs I dropped my luggage off and then headed to find my gate. The airport had free wifi so I charged my phone and re-connected with the world. Since my gate wasn’t posted I had to go to the Air Canada desk and figure out what terminal I had to go to since you can’t go between the terminals once through security. I had a meal at one of the restaurants and immediately missed New Zealand food.

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3:15pm on February 27 – waiting for my third of four flights today!

My flight to Vancouver ended up getting delayed and there was no way I was going to make my Edmonton flight. As soon the the Air Canada rep got to the gate I went and asked about my connection. Luckily there was one more flight to Edmonton so I wouldn’t be stuck in Vancouver. The plane eventually showed up an hour late. We boarded and took off shortly after. The flight was Air Canada Rouge so there were no snacks but I fell asleep pretty quickly so I didn’t care. I woke up with about 40 minutes left in the flight and spent the rest of the time talking to the two ladies beside me. One had been traveling from Australia so she was just as tired as me! It was dark when we landed so I didn’t see anything. I got to customs and there was no line. The guy was super nice and even though I was over the duty free limit I didn’t have to pay (just be honest and nice and you are less likely to be charged). I grabbed my bag and made my way towards Air Canada check in. Its a pain to pick up your bag in every airport but at least this way you would know where it got lost! I checked in and got a new boarding pass and went through security. The pilots were sitting near me at the gate so I ended up talking to them for a few minutes. The plane showed up and shortly after it was time to board!

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One more flight!

On this flight I got the window seat and no one had the aisle seat so I had lots of room. I watched about half of Guardians of the Galaxy before we landed. Since I did customs in Vancouver I got to go straight to the baggage claim. My dad was sitting there waiting for me. It was now 1:30am on February 28 so I had been traveling for 38 hours! Dad had my keys and dropped me off at my place. So nice to be home and have my own bed!

This was the most amazing trip I have ever gone on and I will not soon forget the friends I’ve made or the memories we’ve shared. Definitely going to plan on the reunion tour in 5 years! Now to start work on costumes…

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The Last Goodbye

February 24

Today I went on the Routeburn track walk with Sue and Ben. They do this tour for exclusively for Red Carpet Tours. A group did the tour on Sunday but I was the only one today. I was picked up at my hostel and then we were on our way. The first top was where Frodo and Sam saw the Oliphants. I was at the location a few days ago but this time we went down where the armies were walking. Since we visited in the morning it was a lot cooler than the other day!IMG_8656

We continued on towards the Routeburn track and stopped along the road to get some great views of the lake. Sue and Ben have lots of knowledge about the movies and where things were filmed. Peter Jackson would pick the most random places to film. The base camp of when the Rohirrim and other riders gather along the way to Gondor was filmed across the lake in a difficult to access field – hard for spies to get to!

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We stopped at Glenorchy for second breakfast and to buy lunch. We then headed towards the walk. It’s in the same area of the Beorn’s house filming location. We crossed over the same bridge that Wolverine does in X-Men Origins. If you pay attention in the movie, the arrows are painted on the wrong side since its supposed to be in North America but filmed in New Zealand.

We drove down to look at the river before starting walk. The water is so clear and beautiful! We then went back up to the parking lot and got ready for the walk. The hike itself is so beautiful. We kept spotting birds which made Ben and Sue excited since it means the populations are healthy. Since I’ve been walking lots all month this walk was not too strenuous. We went at a nice pace and made it to the waterfall in less than an hour. At the waterfall there were some crazy people that were traveling down the river – including sliding down the waterfalls. Definitely not crazy enough to try that!

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Type of branch used for Bilbo’s walking stick

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I found a troll cave!

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The crazies going into the water

We walked back to the car and then ate our lunch before continuing on our adventure. Even though I had already been to Paradise, we decided to go back anyways since it was so close. Ben and Sue had different photos than Nomad Safaris so I was able to line up some different shots. We didn’t stay long and headed back towards Queenstown. Sue drove us over to where Deer Park Heights was and even though we couldn’t go up, I was able to get a zoomed in photo of the rock that Aragorn falls off of on the way to Helm’s Deep.

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Our adventure was now at an end and I was dropped off at my hostel. Can’t believe I only have 3 nights left!

February 25

I had no tours planned today so I got to sleep in late. I decided to go into town to see about getting my tattoo done. They had lots of openings so I went for lunch and then back to the shop (had to also climb the hill to my hostel because I forgot my paper from Daniel Reeve). This was my first tattoo and I was really nervous but because it was small it didn’t take long at all and didn’t even hurt. My tattoo artist was an extra in the LotR movies – once as an orc and once in the Gondor army. He also gave Peter Jackson his tattoo and met Orlando Bloom (Orlando had gone in with Peter to act as support). So now my geeky tattoo has a geeky story to go with it!

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The number 30 in Elvish!

I went to Patagonia for a hot chocolate since it was a chilly day (only 11!) and then headed over to the Novotel to meet up with Rebecca and Katie. We were supposed to meet at 1pm but I decided to see if they were in their hotel since I had nothing to do. We hung out in their room for a bit and then went for one last walk around town since they are leaving tomorrow. We went to the Remarkable’s Sweet Shop and then to the LotR store for one last look.

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We weren’t hungry for a big supper so we went to Devil Burger for the fries. We shared the curry cheese chips and the garlic cheese chips – both so delicious! It was then time to say our goodbyes! I will have to make the trek to Australia one day to visit!

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Only one day left!

February 26

Today is my last full day in New Zealand as tomorrow I begin the long voyage home. I spent most of the day in the hostel relaxing and packing everything. My suitcase is heavy but hopefully its under the limit!

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Legolas is ready to go!

I went downtown to meet up with Lisa and Kelly for dinner. We decided to go to The Cow since it was a favourite of the hobbits! We shared a pizza and some amazing garlic bread. The pizza was good but Winnies is the best. After dinner we walked around taking some photos and then ended up down by the water. The sun was slowly setting so it was quite beautiful. The Queenstown & Southern Lakes Highland Pipe Band was playing down by the water so we hung around a bit and listened. It was then time to head back to go to bed. As we walked up the hill (at sunset, into the west) the pipe band was playing. It felt like they were playing for us. It was quite an amazing moment. (I could still hear the band as I got to my hostel up on the hill!)

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Once at the spot where we had to go our separate ways Lisa pulled out her iPod and we listened to The Last Goodbye. It was the perfect, although sad, way to say goodbye since it was the last goodbye of the Fellowship.

I can’t believe my Middle-earth Adventure is over and I start home tomorrow! I will miss the Fellowship and New Zealand so much. Time to start saving for the reunion in 2020!

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The Road to Isengard

February 23

The tour ended last night and many are beginning their long voyages home but some of us are staying around for some more adventure. Β Lisa, Kelly, Katie, Rebecca and I took a Nomad Safaris tour in the morning. I said goodbye to Kay since she was flying back to Australia in the early afternoon and then dropped my luggage in Katie and Rebecca’s room. Julie and Deanna met us in the hotel lobby to say goodbye since both were flying back to the North Island this morning. After hugs and last goodbyes we hopped into our safari vehicle – it was Thorin!

Our first stop was at a scenic pullout alongside Lake Wakatipu – the large lake that Queenstown sits beside. Here we got some great photos of the lake in the morning sun. Our guide had photos and talked a lot about Deer Park Heights and what was filmed there. Sadly Deer Park has been closed to visitors for several years now. We got back in the vehicle and then headed to Glenorchy. We had a quick bathroom break and took a couple more scenic photos before heading on towards Paradise!

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Paradise is where Beorn’s house was filmed (and some of X-Men Origins Wolverine). It is Adam Brown’s favourite location! We stopped and got photos at the Paradise sign and then continued up to the filming site. We can’t get right onto the farm land but our guide had photos to match up. Some backgrounds for Isengard where also filmed here.

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We then headed back towards Queenstown stopping along the way for a snack in the forest. We were close to where Boromir’s death was filmed but that location is only accessible by a horse tour. We had a hot drink (I had tea, earl grey) and cookies. I may have put extra cookies in my pockets for a later snack…

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Our next spot was supposed to be where Frodo and Sam see the Oliphants but since most of us had seen it (and Lisa and Kelly would be seeing it in the afternoon) our guide took us down to the lake so we could get some more scenic shots. He then took us up to a high spot in Queenstown so we could get some great overview shots. Our tour was then at an end and we went back to the hotel. I grabbed my luggage from Rebecca and Katie’s room and then got a cab to take me to my hostel. There was no way I would of been able to carry my luggage to the top of the hill!

The guy at the hostel check in carried my large suitcase (it weighs over 50lbs!) up the stairs to my tiny room. It’ll be such a change after 2 weeks of hotels! I had the afternoon to myself before a group of us were meeting in the Novotel lobby to go to dinner together. It ended up being Kristen, Josh, Danielle, Talia, Darrell, Lisa, Kelly and I that went to Winnies for pizza. I am definitely going to miss their pizza since it is amazing! After dinner we had to start saying out goodbyes. I will see Lisa and Kelly in a couple days but won’t see the others. Of course, Josh started quoting Bilbo saying goodbye to the dwarves in BotFA and made it more emotional (I will never be able to see that scene without crying!). It’s hard to believe that the tour is over and everyone is going home! We bonded incredibly well and I will miss everyone from this group 😦

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Tomorrow – on my own for the first time since Auckland!

Many Partings

February 22

Today everyone got to pick what activities they wanted to do. I chose the Touching Middle-earth tour and since it wasn’t until the afternoon I got to sleep in πŸ™‚ Kay got up and left for her tour early but I went back to sleep for a bit and then just hung out watching TV. I walked downtown to grab a bite to eat and cancel one of my reservations. I decided not to go on the second Nomad Safari tour and save the money for something else.

We met in the hotel lobby and Julie and Deanna came to see us off. I decided to give them a parting gift here instead of at the farewell dinner tonight so I didn’t have to haul it and they could pack it. I gave both a pair of Canada mitts and a Lego key chain. Deanna got Bilbo and dropped his ring twice in the first five minutes she had him. I gave Julie Frodo and then the Sting I had been carrying around all tour. She loved the sword from the first time she saw it and so I decided to give it to her for future tours (plus, my luggage is super full so any extra room is helpful for me!). Julie and Deanna both loved the gifts, especially since they have trouble getting Lego in New Zealand.

Our van for the tour arrived and our tour guide actually went on a Red Carpet Tour years ago and then moved to New Zealand! It was nice to have someone that was a crazy fan just like us. Our first stop was at Twelve Mile Delta – a campground where they filmed Frodo and Sam watching the Oliphants. We had the photos to line up our shots and even old call sheets to look at! I was the first one to be Frodo (cuz I have mini-Frodo) and Kristen was my Samwise.

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We started to walk back towards the van and stopped across from the Frodo and Sam location. Here was where the Rangers of Ithilien were firing their arrows and the Oliphants and the Southrons of Harad. Not all of the arrows were accounted for so it is still possible that there may be some down near the river. A friend of our guide actually found one years ago and then sold it on ebay.

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We got back in the van and then headed back across to the other side of Queenstown to our next site – The Pillars of the Kings! This site is right near where the bungee jump in the Air NZ safety video was filmed. The Argonath themselves were not built here (mix of miniatures and CGI) but the backgrounds were filmed for the movie. We can’t get to the exact spot where they filmed from (too dangerous) but you still get to see what was filmed. The water is so beautiful!

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Our next stop was a location only seen in the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring. We traveled the short distance to Arrowtown where they filmed Gladden Fields. It’s from the prologue when Isildur gets ambushed on the road. You can tell by the trees that you are in the right spot but sadly the most distinctive tree had to be cut down because it was blocking the path. We also saw the spot where Isildur tries to escape by running into the water but the Ring betrays him and he is killed. The underwater shots were of course filmed in studio in Wellington.

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Our last location for was the Ford of Bruinen where Arwen is trying to escape from the Black Riders. Part of the scene was filmed at another river near Queenstown but due to a landslide some of it was filmed in Arrowtown. You can tell because the background is different in a few shots.

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Before returning to the hotel we stopped and got to play with some Lord of the Rings weapon replicas πŸ™‚

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Once everyone was done we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our Farewell Dinner. The dinner was up the Skyline Gondola and offered another amazing view of Queenstown! Dinner itself was a buffet with lots of options. It was really delicious! Deanna handed out gifts near the end and she made me cry when she explained the meaning behind the necklace.

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After everyone was done, we moved to a quiet corner so we could present Julie and Deanna with their gifts. They also had a little something for everyone – including our name in Elvish. I got James to start the presentation off and then Elizabeth and I went up to give the gifts. We had gotten Daniel Reeve to make a sign that said “Radagast February 2015 Fellowship” for our bus but actually had 4 made – one for both bus drivers, Julie and Deanna. Deanna knew we were doing this but did not know we were getting one for her as well – she was quite surprised. We also got both of them a gift certificate to the jeweler in Arrowtown (they both love shopping there!) and a bit of fudge from Remarkables. When Rebecca and I went into the sweet shop yesterday we were sure Deanna had seen us buy the fudge and knew what was going on but Deanna said she had no idea. It was a great surprise. Everyone started making their way down the gondola and back to the hotel. Some of us were going to continue on the party and go for a few drinks.

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In the hotel lobby we said goodbye to those who weren’t going us for drinks and then headed across the street to Monty’s. We were hanging out and talking when we started to hear “I See Fire” from Desolation of Smaug. Definitely made the last night even more emotional! Β Eventually the bartender fessed up to playing the songs. His reason was people drink when they are happy but drink more when they are sad. Even though it made more tears flow it was the perfect way to end the tour.IMG_1912

I am definitely going to miss everyone as this has been an amazing experience! I still have a few more days in Queenstown and there are a few others that will still be around so I don’t have to say goodbye just yet!

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The Breaking of the Fellowship

February 21

Today was an emotional day! Although there is still one more day left in the tour as well as our Farewell Dinner, this was our last day touring as a group. We had several locations to view and luckily it was another late start. First up, we traveled to Arrowtown! It’s a cute little gold mining town just outside of Queenstown. We stopped at the jewelry store to pick up the the items we had ordered. I got a silver ring that says “Legolas” on it. We then had a little bit of time to walk around, Rebecca and I ended up in the Remarkables Sweet Shop and tasted some fudge. A perfect second breakfast πŸ™‚

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We eventually all made it back to the bus to continue on with our journey. Our first stop was Fangorn Forest and where the Orc funeral pyre was – it is where Aragorn kicks the helmet when he thinks Merry and Pippin are dead. As you as the photo is held up, you know you are in the right spot! It has very distinct tree lines so we were able to get our shots just right. Julie even had a sword an mask to add to the shot for even more realism. A few people even made an Orc body pile.

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The forest right beside where the Orcs were burned was used for Fangorn Forest right before they entered the forest. We did go inside the forest as well but inside Fangorn was not shot there – more for us to just see what it was like as the actual location would of been similar.

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We went back out of the forest so we could get photos of where Gandalf calls Shadowfax. Since James is an excellent whistler he was nominated to be our Gandalf. Julie picked Tom and Matt to play Shadowfax – the results were hilarious. And of course, the jokes about who was the horse’s ass flew freely.

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We made the short walk back to the bus (while getting attacked by plants that stuck to you like velcro!) and then headed on to our next sight – one of the (many) rivers used to film the Fellowship paddling down the Anduin. Along the way we made a quick stop to take photos at a location similar to the Dead Marshes. It wasn’t the exact location but a good representation of how they looked. We then continued to the river site. We walked across a little suspension bridge – making it sway a lot – and then got some really good photos. Ben (our guide for the day) had the screen shots so we could get the right background in the shot. We weren’t staying long so we were told to “stay on the path” and not venture off. Going back across the bridge us younger ones had to hold back so the older members of the Fellowship could cross without us shaking the bridge. We made it back to the bus without losing anyone πŸ™‚

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Our last stop for the day was were the breaking of the Fellowship scenes were filmed. It was very fitting to come here last the end as it is the last location our fellowship sees together. The first shot we re-enacted was were Frodo is holding the ring and looking across the river just before he leaves. Since Elizabeth was wearing her cloak she was our Frodo. Right beside that is where Sam runs into the river after Frodo. When filming, the crew inspected the rocks for glass since Sean Astin would be barefoot. Somehow, Sean stepped on the one piece they missed and had to be airlifted to the hospital as a precaution. Everyone was lined up taking photos of where Sam ran into the water at when I decided we actually needed a Samwise. Katie and I were at the end so I gave Katie my camera, took my sandals off, yelled “No, Mr. Frodo!” and then ran into the water. I ran all the way up to my knees. It was quite refreshing πŸ™‚

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Once out of the water I put my shoes back on and we headed into the forest. We were going to were Frodo and Β Merry & Pippin hid from the Orcs right before Frodo left the Fellowship. The tree that Frodo hid in was right beside the path. We all recognized it right away and took turns being Frodo. Further up the hill was the log that Merry and Pippin hid behind. In the movie they make it seem that the tree and log are right across from each other but in actuality, Merry and Pippin’s log is up the hill and behind the tree Frodo hides in. Movie magic πŸ™‚

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Once everyone had their photos we headed back to the bus. We made it just in time as it started raining! New Zealand was sad that our tour was coming to an end! As we drove into Queenstown Julie played ‘Into the West’ which made everyone tear up πŸ˜₯

The evening was ours to go where we wanted to and a group of us ended up at Devil Burger. Pretty sure this was the best burger I have had (sorry Burger Fuel – but it beats you!). I tried some of the curry fries (kinda like poutine) and they were amazing! After dinner we continued our quest and went for beer. Our driver Wayne had been talking up a place called Cowboys (even though it sounded a bit sketchy!) so of course we had to go check it out. They had massive beer glasses that only cost $10 (although the beer was watered down!) so many of us ended up drinking those. They have a bull you can try and ride and most of the guys of our group tried it out. For the rest of us it was quite hilarious to watch πŸ™‚

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The bar got crowded (and some crazy girls stole our table) so we left the bar and headed out to find a new drinking hole. For some reason we let Jeff lead and ended up across Queenstown at some expensive place. We hung out there the rest of the night and continued our mini party. Our group slowly left back to the hotel until there were only a few of us left. We made a late night McDonald’s run and then back to the hotel to crash.

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Next up…Farewell Dinner πŸ˜₯

Dwarves are Very Dangerous Over Short Distances…

February 20

Today we ventured into Rohan Country! We had to switch buses because the big coach wasn’t able to drive on the New Zealand back roads in this area. We stopped for a quick bathroom break in Alexandra and moved to the school bus we were using for the morning. I wish I had school buses like this one! The seats were super nice like on our big coach and there was lots of room so everyone was comfortable. Definitely a fancier school bus than I’m used too!

Once everyone was on the bus we headed towards the farm where several Rohan scenes were filmed. We all had to get off of the bus and walk across a bridge because otherwise we would have been way overweight. The bus itself was still probably over weight even after the 35 of us got off! Once the bus was safely across we all got back on to continue our trek to Rohan. The property is owned by a lovely older lady named Sue. She runs a little hotel called Old Moa Creek which is an old gold mining ghost town. We stopped there to pick Sue up to be our guide and for a bathroom break. The hotel is…very old. Definitely an unique place to stay but it would not be on my list of accommodations.

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Our first stop was at Aragorn’s rock. This is the rock where Aragorn leans down to listen for the Uruk-hai as they are trying to rescue Merry and Pippin. So we all took a turn being Aragorn and listening πŸ™‚

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Right behind this location is they canyon where Pippin drops his leaf brooch while being carried by the Uruk-hai. It’s crazy how two different locations can be filmed so close to each other! Of course, once in the canyon we had to have some re-enactments. For the first one, I was Legolas, Kristen was Aragorn and Tom was Gimli. The Urak-hai and Merry and Pippin do their part first and then Aragorn and Legoas come running in. I got to yell for Gilmi to run faster πŸ™‚

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For the second round no one wanted to be Gimli so I volunteered. Once everyone had said their line and Legolas (Lisa) yelled at me I had to “fall” into the canyon and run towards everyone saying Gimli’s “dwarves are very dangerous over short distances” line. It’s so much fun to do these re-enactments in the actual filming locations! We walked out of the canyon and then used a large boulder to yell out Legolas’ “They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard” line. It wasn’t the same rock but it still made for great photos.

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We got back to the bus and then drove a short distance to where the Rohan village was burned. There are a few buildings in the area and since they couldn’t be torn down for filming they had to be covered up with thatched roofs. We could hold the photos from the movie up and see the exact views from the movie. And as people were walking up from the bus they looked like Rohan refugees. There was a large rock outcropping that some of us climbed to get some better views.

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We hopped back onto the bus and drove to where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli encounter Eomer and the Rohirrim. I got to be Legolas again when we did the re-enactment. We got surrounded by all the Rohirrim. Sue got right into and lead everyone to surround us!

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Once everyone got their photos we headed back to the bus and then back to Alexandra to switch back to our coach and have lunch. Liza, Ashley, Kay and I headed down the street and ate at a little cafe. On the way back we stopped at a couple of stores so Ashley and Kay could take a peak. We headed back to meet the bus and then head towards out last city – Queenstown!

On the way into Queenstown we passed the bungee jump that was featured in the Air New Zealand safety video. Pretty cool to see but I will not be jumping! We are in the Novotel Lakeside Hotel until the end of the tour. It’s super nice it will be hard to stay in a hostel for the last few nights after the tour! Once checked in a bunch of us went to Winnie’s for dinner. It was Martin Freeman’s (Bilbo) favourite. The pizza was AMAZING! Best I’ve had in New Zealand – and back home!IMG_7906

Tomorrow is our last full day together as a group (we do separate activities on Sunday). Appropriately we go to the Breaking of the Fellowship site where Frodo leaves with Sam to go to Mordor alone. Can’t believe my Middle-earth adventure is almost over!

Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden!

February 19

Today was a sleep in day – we didn’t have to leave until 8:30! This morning we were going to where Pelennor Fields was filmed and it was super close to our hotel so it was a very short drive. The owner of the farm, Priscilla, greeted us in the field that was used for filming. The road built for filming was still there so the farm is probably the only one with a tar sealed road through a field. Priscilla brought out photos to show us so we could see exactly where things were filmed. Its quite easy to line up shots to match the movie. Most of the scenes were filmed on the farm but Theoden’s death was filmed in studio. The road was like a divider Β – Rohan was filmed on one side and Gondor was filmed on the other. Priscilla was also an orc extra in the film. And since the area is sparsely populated any local who wished to be an extra was able to. It would of been so amazing to have lived here when filming was going on!

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About a year after filming, rabbit hunter found one of the spears that was used in the movie so we got to hold it and use it for photos. It was so awesome to be able to hold an actual prop from the movie in the same spot where filming took place!

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Once everyone had a turn we took a group photo and then got on the bus to drive to where Theoden lead his charge of the Rohirrim. When they filmed there was 250 horses that participated in the charge! That would have been an incredible scene to witness firsthand. Of course being the super fans we are, we reenacted the scene minus the horses – except for Theoden who got to have a pretend horse. For the first reenactment I got to be Theoden. It was my job to say his speech (with a cheat sheet that had the lines) and then lead my Rohirrim into battle. The first one was practice so we didn’t run but on the second one we all ran down the hill and attacked the orcs at the bottom. It was so much fun! Everyone got really into it and we ran fast down the hill and attacking the orcs – sometimes a little harder than necessary πŸ™‚

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After my charge Josh said to me that he so wanted to do that so I handed him the cape and horse. A few people changed sides between the orcs and Rohirrim. Josh lead his charge and we all screamed and ran down the hill again slaying orcs as we ran. Next up was John’s turn to be Theoden. Now, at the beginning of the tour he didn’t want to do any reenactments. Fast forward 10 days and he was leading the charge down a hill! At the end of this run when I went to attack Deanna (even though she was the camera person!) I somehow managed to fall. I didn’t get hurt or anything but couldn’t get up because Lisa and I were laughing so hard! I even managed to make her fall. We had one last charge, this time lead by Ashley. Somehow on this one we had a lot less Rohirrim and a lot more orcs…

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We all got back in the bus to start heading towards our lunch stop. Along the way we made a quick stop to take photos of where Gandalf and Pippin crossed a river on their way towards Minas Tirith. We also made a quick stop at the spot where they filmed Arwen and Frodo being chased by the Black Riders. Sadly we couldn’t go onto the property because it is a private winery and the owner doesn’t let people on his land. We continued our drive towards Lake Wanaka. Everyone went off on there own to find food. Katie, Kay and I ended up at a little donair place although none of us actually bought donairs. Deanna stalked us and found us inside waiting for food πŸ˜‰ We got our food to go and headed towards the beach. There were birds everywhere wanting our food. When I was finished I threw my fries to the birds and it was hilarious to see them scramble to get the food. Deanna also tried to feed them and then they started following her. I got away from there before they attacked us. Julie had brought bread from the hotel so we went and fed the birds on the dock. If you held it out they would swoop down and grab it. I did not try that though.

After lunch we went to a place called “Have a Shot”. They have a shooting range, mini golf and archery as well as other activities. I only tried archery although I wasn’t very good but it was still lots of fun!

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Once everyone was done with there activities we got back on the bus to head for our hotel. Along the way we passed the 45th parallel south. Just before we got to the hotel we stopped at Mrs. Jones’ Orchard where they have fresh fruit infused ice cream. I had vanilla with kiwi and it was delicious πŸ™‚

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Everyone went there own way for dinner. A group of us ended up at the hotel restaurant. I wasn’t hungry so I just had an appetizer. I was supposed to go hang out with Kristen and Elizabeth after dinner but as I was walking through the courtyard James offered me a beer and you can’t turn a beer down! We ended up hanging out and drinking until it long after it was dark. I had such a great time and will definitely miss this group.

Tomorrow we head into Rohan Country!