Greetings from the (top of the) bottom of the world!
Once we arrived in sunny Auckland, the adventure began. We bought phone cards and were shuttled to pick up our rental car. Our shuttle driver was a young man from Scotland, a Third Culture Kid whose family moved to New Zealand when he was young. It was fun to talk to him about our role in teaching TCKs at an international school in China. We also shared the ride with a lovely Irish couple who were travelling to New Zealand for the first time. They confessed to us that their daughter had just gotten married in a “Lord of the Rings” themed wedding, though they (her parents) had never actually read the books or seen the films themselves. *GASP* Once we picked up our car we headed about half an hour outside of Auckland to stay on a farm in the town of Drury.
DRURY, NEW ZEALAND
HOBBITON MOVIE SET
Location scouts found the patch of land that would become the world famous Hobbiton from a helicopter when looking for a final place to shoot Bilbo Baggin’s 111th birthday party. Director Peter Jackson had already signed 12 other contracts planning to shoot different portion of Hobbiton town throughout New Zealand. Yet, the locations scouts found “the tree”, the one that would be the backdrop of the birthday party and brought Peter Jackson out to see the location. The tour guide explained that upon seeing the Alexander sheep and cattle farm, Jackson canceled all 12 of the former contracts and decided to set the entire Shire there, in the rolling hills surrounding the 100+ year old tree.
It was so fun to hear little tidbits of information about the village. Standing outside Bilbo’s Bag End and learning about the metal tree above whose thousands of leaves where not on tied on one by one, but also hand painted twice (when Jackson didn’t approve of the first color) was hilarious and crazy to hear. We were able to see Samwise Gamgee’s peaceful home (and hear the story of the one shot scene where actor Sean Asten’s real daughter is the little hobbit child who runs up to him in a genuine greeting after being away from each other for months due to his filming schedule). The entire village, from the little hobbit holes and gardens to the fun-filled Green Dragon Tavern, overwhelmed with its sense of simplicity and magic.
TOKAANU, NEW ZEALAND
Honestly, I don’t know how to describe how remarkably striking this country is other than to say, “It looks FAKE.” I recall some film I watched in middle school about this woman who went to space for the first time and when she was asked to describe it, all she could say was, “They should have sent a poet.” My words and feelings are not enough, one hour we’re in cluttered jade forests, the next we’re racing through vast open plains full of grassland with signs marked “Wild Horse Crossing”, then we suddenly find ourselves weaving along bright turquoise shorelines with rocky cliffs and friendly skies. The further south we get, the more fall colors began to seep into the trees. We sang Disney songs and musical numbers, our performances surely to get us on Broadway someday, but sometimes we were just quiet… admiring the splendor of this glorious place.
There is still much driving and adventuring to be done! I am thankful to have Abi along for this journey. I love travelling alone, having time to thinking and pray… and just able to make my own schedule. Yet, there is something also very special to have a friend to share in making wonderful memories and experiencing the thrill of travel. I’m not sure when I will get to post this, but I hope you all enjoy these stories and pictures! I feel so thankful to have this opportunity to expand my mind and meet people from all over the world through travel. There is nothing quite like taking a step away from your routine, getting out of your comfort zone, and being challenged to live life trusting in the Father, praising Him for His kindness, and seeing His greatness throughout the world.