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Backtracking through New Zealand

Lord of the Rings sets on the south island of New Zealand

sunny 60 °F
View RTW 2014 on cschelz's travel map.

Allen and I left Australia on October 13th from Sydney, after an excellent time there. We were really looking forward to our month in New Zealand though, tracking down some of the sets from the Lord of the Rings movies. We rented a converted van from Escape Rentals in Christchurch so we wouldn't have to worry about finding a place to sleep. The paint is based off the movie Howl's Moving Castle.
The rental began on October 15th and we have it until the morning of November 5th. It only cost roughly $625 so it was a pretty fantastic deal. We set out the afternoon for our first stop, Franz Josef Glacier, on the West Coast. We made it about halfway to a campsite just off the highway. We arrived the next morning.
The glacier was used in "the beacons are lit" scene in The Lord of the Rings. On the way up from the town to the trailhead we picked up three hitchhikers going there as well. These were the first of several hitchhikers we have picked up so far. The base of the glacier is about an hour hike from the parking lot through a really wide riverbed.
The path only goes to the base of the glacier and unfortunately it was raining pretty hard by the time we got there.
We drove several hours later that day to our next stop, Te Anau. There are several Lord of the Rings (LoTR from now on) sites near here. The first one we went to was Fangorn Forest. We arrived after dark so it was difficult to find exactly where we were going, but we were becoming experienced night navigators. We spent the night there, and besides being underground it was one of the darkest places I’ve ever been. It definitely felt like the movie. We awoke the next morning to an intensely green environment. Dark moss covered most surfaces and the leaves above blocked out most of the sky. The earth noticeably sunk when we stepped on it.
After some an excellent breakfast of bacon and eggs in the forest, we drove about two hours to Mavora Lakes. The two main scenes here were when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli find the pile of burned Orcs while trying to save Merry and Pippin. The lake was also where the Fellowship land on the beach to travel to Mordor and later where Sam and Frodo split from the group. They were both really recognizable places.

Rather than go day by day and scene by scene, here are some pictures from our travels. Some of them are recognizable from the movies, others are just cool pictures.
On the 100th day of my journey, Thursday October 23rd, we started in Abel Tasman National Park. We hiked and had lunch on the beach. It’s a really cool place and the water is really clear. We were going to kayak but the wind quickly shut that idea down. Later, we drove to Richmond where my 100th dinner on the road was some Pizza Hut (everywhere else in town was closed) while watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead.
Yesterday, we tried visiting the brewery that made the beer that’s seen in the movies. Unfortunately the brewery has changed owners multiple times in the past 10 years since the movies came out so the beer is no longer made there. We still picked up some of their fresh beer to try something local. We spent most of the remainder of the day in our hostel. It was nice to sleep in a clean bed and take a hot shower. The ping pong table was a nice bonus too.
We are currently on a ferry from Picton on the South Island to Wellington on the North Island. We have about 10 days left in the van to explore this smaller island. We’ll back in the US on November 7th.
A shot of our camping site one night:

Posted by cschelz 23:11 Archived in New Zealand

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