Hobbiton Tour, New Zealand: Review

11. Elf ears in HobbitonStepping onto the tour bus in Rotorua, I was somewhat skeptical as to what I would discover at Hobbiton. With a ticket costing more than $100, and as a huge Lord Of The Rings fan (my cats are christened Merry and Pippin), my expectations were high.

Now before I begin, I want to be very clear about what you cannot expect from Hobbiton:

  • You cannot step into Bag End and walk around Bilbo Baggins’ home. The inside of Bag End was created and filmed inside a movie studio in Wellington. This is because building a full-sized hobbit hole in the side of a hill, complete with room for filming and production crew, would have been a bit difficult.
  • There are no hobbits roaming around Hobbiton as they are fictional.

I say all of this because you will be amazed at how many people are astonished that Ian McCellan cannot fit into a hobbit hole and that there aren’t real-life actors walking around The Shire in full costume 24/7.

14. Yellow Hobbit Hole roses

4. Blue Hobbit House

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“Intercity Milford Sound Day Tour” Review + Is Milford Sound worth the visit?

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I initially planned on hitch-hiking to Milford Sound, but I eventually decided that I just wanted to sit quietly and enjoy the scenery, and so I opted for the Intercity Milford Sound day tour.

The bus section of my tour was well worth the money – it was easier and less stressful than hitch-hiking and I had a fantastic guide. I was less impressed by the cruise in terms of its value for money as both the information and the tour were relatively basic.

Milford Sound is one of the most talked about destinations in New Zealand, creating impossibly high expectations. But, broadly speaking, I enjoyed the tour and I would definitely recommend that you pay the sound a visit, especially if you’re at all interested in geology.

If you have a pretty decent budget and don’t have your own transport, taking a tour is the way to go.

(Note: Costs and overall ratings of the tour are listed at the bottom of this post)

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Bridget Jones does the Tongariro Crossing (Part 2)

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If you haven’t done so, you can read Bridget Jones does the Tongariro Part 1 here.

Tongariro - The Steep Killer Slope

7.45am – Embarking on the devil’s staircase/slippery slope of death

Am about to climb a right-angle complete with treacherous ice. It is clearly designed to slaughter the clumsy members of the human race (ie. me). Think I might die as I am not wearing crumpets (or whatever they’re called) on my shoes and I have no walking sticks.

Have managed to do a pretty nifty video of me walking though. Always good to have artsy videos for Instagram. Am the next Bear Grills, after all.

7.55am

Was just tottering along with my camera making very astute David Attenborough-esque commentary, imagining my glittering future career as journalist and film maker, when I stumbled on an icy rock. Fell flat on my arse.

I swear I heard my frozen fat crack.

The only blessing is that there is no one around to witness such a mortifying occurrence.

8.13am

My arse hurts. I wonder if it is appropriate to have a fag whilst trekking? After all, it would be medicinal (to distract me from the pain).

8.15am

Have lit medicinal cigarette and resumed walking. I decided that given the circumstances and the lack of judgmental human company, having one small ciggie to keep me going with this journey is perfectly justifiable.

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“Bridget Jones” does the Tongariro Crossing – Part 1

 

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Disclaimer: whilst this story is based on real events, certain aspects are added for humour and creativity.

Thursday 1 May 2014Turangi, New Zealand.

5.00am – in my tent ice house

Woken up by icicles biting my face off.

Am buried in sleeping bag wearing three jumpers, three t-shirts, a pair of thermal leggings and a pair of trousers. Am still freezing.

Now cursing lady in hiking store for convincing me that a minus degree sleeping bag wasn’t necessary. As an outdoors expert hailing from Europe she evidently took one look at my bingo wings and decided that I couldn’t carry the extra weight:

Discrimination against the unhealthy is an ongoing problem that I face in the hiking world.

Either that or the lady had no clue about New Zealand winter time.

I haven’t decided which.

Thinking wistfully of days gone by when I slept in dorm rooms surrounded by snoring sweaty backpackers.

Have a big hike today so must get some rest before I have to get up at the arse crack of dawn (5.30am).

5.10am

The cold has made my nose run. Have got snot all over sleeping bag in my sleep.

This is why I am still single.

5.20am

Desperately need to pee but cannot face concept of moving. Think my toes have possibly fallen off inside the three pairs of hiking socks I am wearing.

5.25am

I really should go and pee. Whilst snot on the sleeping bag is excusable, piss in its depths just simply is not.

5.35am

The urge to pee did not make it to the campsite toilets. Made it as far as the nearest tree before my bladder almost burst.

Thank fuck for winter’s lack of early morning sunshine. I am sure the tree will now flourish nicely.

Have somehow made my way to the campsite’s kitchen and am preparing nutritious breakfast of peanut butter on two cereal bars.

I take my hiking preparation very seriously:

I choose peanut butter for its high protein content. Not because I found it on the “free” shelf at the last hostel…obviously.

Must will myself to get out of layers and into hiking gear. Cannot shower as don’t have the time and am worried that certain parts of my body will freeze if exposed to such extreme temperatures.

Whilst un-used, I like my vagina the way it is.

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Review: Abel Tasman, Great Walk

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With its white sands and blue waters, the Abel Tasman National Park is a slice of beach paradise in the middle of the mountainous country that is New Zealand. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a Fiji-island-inspired moment of aquatic bliss as your eyes take in deep greens and multiple shades of blue. It goes without saying that the Abel Tasman National Park is worth a visit.

But is the Great Walk worth the time and money?

1) Difficulty:

The track is more of a walk than a trek. There are a few hills in places, but mostly it is a relatively flat, easy walk. It is certainly a much less challenging trek than the other Great Walks.

The only moment of remote difficulty comes at Awaroa Bay when you must cross the sea bed at low tide. However, the water only comes up to below your knees and it is not particularly difficult to do alone. Just make sure you find out the tide times and factor it into your itinerary.

Tip: use the exposed sandbanks to cross. The water tends to be shallower and it’s quicker than wading through!

If you are looking for a real challenge and enjoy hiking up mountains, then the Abel Tasman may fall short of expectations, but it is perfect if you want a casual amble or don’t want anything too strenuous.

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