New Zealand – Journey through Middle-earth

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My Journey started on the 9th of December
2013, with a long flight of 23 hours to the other side of the world. from Vienna over Dubai and Sydney. A delay of the connection flight caused a
long stay in Dubai. Because of that, I missed the connection flight
from Sydney to Auckland, but f inally after 32h hours I was there…. I arrived in Auckland, the biggest City in New
Zealand The first two nights I spent in the YHA backpackers
hostel in downtown and did a lot of sightseeing. On the third day I picked up my rented car at Auckland
Airport and I was heading to Matamata and my first lord of the rings set location. The next morning, after the Street Party in
Matamata, I got the tickets for the Hobbiton set tour in the new Matamata i-site. The house was rebuilt
in the new hobbit design. From there it goes with a bus to a huge farmstay
just outside of Matamata. Driving over lovely green hills full of sheeps,
and then it was there… My
next destination was Whakapapa in the Tongariro National Park. On the way there I stopped at the shores of
Lake Taupo. I arrived in Tongariro National Park the evening
before, and spent a freezing night in the car Before I started the track, I visited some
locations nearby. From Whakapapa I drove further to the end
of the road, to the Whakapapa Ski Area at the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. A volcanic wasteland covered with razorsharp
rocks. I took a quite ascent up to Mt Ruapehu, the
land of Mordor and the Emyn Muil. It was time to start the Tongariro Nothern
Circuit. A 3 day track crossing a bonedry volcanic
area. The most demanding and exhausting part of
this, was the sidetrack up to the summit of Mt Ngauruhoe, also know
as Mt Doom. Steep, slippery and dangerous. After that ascent I knew Frodo and Sam felt,
when they climbed the summit of Mt Doom. On the other side of Mt Ruapehu, nearby a
town called Ohakune, there was another shooting location where Gollum catched the fish in
a stream in Ithilien. On the eighth day I was heading from Whakapapa
to Mokai Gravity Canyon. A bungy jumping spot on the
Rangitikei River. Not for bungy jumping but to visit a
magnificent lord of the rings set location of the Anduin
River. Again after a night in the car I took a long
drive to Cape Palliser, at the very end of North Island. To visit a spectacular lord of the
rings set location at the Putangirua Pinnacles, also known as the Path of Dead. Oh hi! Today I’m head ing to Wellington The capital city of New Zealand There some Lord of the Rings set locations to discover.. so lets see! and always remember: Keep left! After my arrival I went to the terminal of
Wellington Airport to see the big sculptures built by Weta Workshop
for the hobbit movies. The next day I walked along the coast of Miramar
defying a storm, and beholding Peter Jacksons residences
in Karaka Bay At last I visited the Weta Cave in Miramar. The next morning, the 22nd of December I dropped
off my rented car and walked the coastline to Wellington downtown. There I spent 3 nights in the YHA hostel near
the waterfront. I went up to Mt Victory just next to downtown. In the forest at the slopes of Mt Victoria
they shooted a scene where Frodo and Sam crossing woodland in the Shire. Even with a map, the set location was pretty
hard do find and recognize. But the most famous set up there, was the
scene where the Hobbits had their first encounter
with the Nazgûl. The Embassy Theatre: For me the most exciting
cinema of all, where the World Premiere of -The Return
of the King- and the first hobbit movie -An unexpected
Journey- took place I was very looking forward to that moment,
watching -The Desolation of Smaug- in embassy. A huge old style cinema
interior with Dolby Atmos Sound. Two weeks have passed, and it was Christmas
Day. My journey through North Island was over. I went on board of the Interislander Ferry,
taking a 3 hours passage to Picton, the Gateway to
South Island. On the 27th of December I took a Watertaxi
to Ship Cove, the Access Point of the Queen Charlotte Track. A 3 day hike to Anakiwa. It was New Years day, and I picked up my next
rented car heading to Nelson, to visit the famous workshop of Jens Hansen, the true creator
of the one ring. In heavy rain my journey continued from Nelson
to Arthurs pass in the Southern Alps. The Avalanche Peak circuit was cancelled because
of flash flood and landslides. So I used the time to see the Devils Punchbowl
Falls in pouring rain, falling down 112m of the mountainside. Out of the mountains, out of the rain. My next stop is Dry Valley and the Cave Stream
Scenic Reserve, its a location near a town called Castle Hill, not an hour away from
Arthurs Pass. A place where a mountain stream runs underground
a huge plateau. For the Maori it was a traditional route to
pass the mountains. Next I was heading to Rangitata Valley, the
most remote place I have ever seen. A vast valley surrounded by mountains, and
in the middle there is one small hill: Mt. Sunday, or Edoras and the Westfold. I was leaving the fantastic Rangitata Valley
heading south, back into the mountains to Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. On the way I stopped at the amazing Lake Tekapo. Leaving the glaciers behind me, I drove to
Twizel, a town south of Lake Pukaki, where vast plains stand out, and where the biggest
battle scene in all movie history t ook place. The day after I drove from Twizel to lake
Wanaka, and the Treble Cone ski area. A shooting location where the Fellowship crossed
a landscape at the foot of the Misty Mountains. A part of the Kawarau River near Queenstown
was my next destination. One other of many set locations for the Anduin
River, but a very special one for me. It took me about 3 hours from Kawarau River
to a place called Poolburn. A huge rock covered prairie in Central Otago
where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli chased the Uruk-hai many days across the plains of Rohan. The Poolburn Reservoir in that area was used
for the scenes where the orcs raided the villages in the Westfold of Rohan. Bad weather came again, and on the long way
from Poolburn to Te Anau I stopped at Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town at the Arrow
River. Near Te Anau, at Lake Manapouri there is an
access point to the famous Kepler Track in Fjordland. I only have planned to walk a part of it in
one day. The Waiau river near the track was also used
for some wide shots for the Anduin river. It was still rainy and I was heading back
north to the Mavora Lakes, also a spot of some amazing lord of the rings set locations. At the very south end of the Mavora lakes,
there were huge tussock fields besides large forests, its the place where Rohan border
to Fangorn Forest. I was heading north again to the end of the
stupendous Lake Wakatipu, to a remote town called Glenorchy. In that area there are access points to two
of the most famous great walks: the Greenstone & Caples Track and the Routburn Track. The last route with my rented car was to Queenstown,
the adventure capital of New Zealand. Near Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu,
I visited a place called -Twelve Mile Delta- one of the set locations for Ithilien The last set location I visited was at the
top of the mountain range called -The Remarkables- near Queenstown. A high ascent to Laka Alta, the set location
for the East Gate of Moria. The last day has come, and my journey through
middle-earth was over. I’ll take my memories with me, and unpack
them fondly remembering this place. 36 days to the day I was setup to this journey,
but now it was time to go back home. I’m so grateful for all what happened on my
journey, and I have experienced. For all the fascinating and breathtaking landscapes
I discoverd so far from home. For all the people I met, and for rediscovering
myself…

 

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