Travelers: Edwina and Matt
Budget: Spendy ($5000-$10,000)
Where did you go? We went to New Zealand (both North and South Island).
We decided to go to New Zealand, partially as this was Matt’s first trip overseas (and New Zealand is one of Australia’s closest neighbours), partially due to The Lord of the Rings. And finally we chose New Zealand because we wanted to try to keep the costs down, while having as much luxury as we could afford.
What did you do? We arrived in Auckland, and the next day, we drove down to Matamata for the Hobbiton Set Tour, which was wonderful and such a beautiful way to start the LoTR portion of our trip. We had been able to time it right, and they had completed filming for the Hobbit so the set was all pristine and wonderful for visiting!
After that we drove down to Rotorua and the next day we drove to Wellington. In Wellington, we went on another set tour, which included a visit to a private house, where some of the Rivendell set was filmed (which again was beautiful).
The next day, we flew to Christchurch (sadly devastated by the earthquakes — I had loved that town the last time I visited and was very cut-up to see it so greatly changed). We were then taken on another tour to Edoras (otherwise known as Mount Sunday), which was glorious — and like the rest of New Zealand, ridiculously photogenic!
After that, we drove down to Mount Cook and stayed at the Hermitage. On the trip down we had our first and only bout of rain, which we greatly appreciated, as it meant that we woke to snowfall and it made the previously picturesque, absolutely magical! I know, too many superlatives, but I had been hoping to have snow and it finally came!
After staying overnight, we drove to Twizel, where we went on the Pelennor Fields tour. This was a small tour, but it has loads of costumes if that is your thing (it was totally our thing). After the tour ended, we drove to Lake Wanaka to stay the night before driving to Queenstown.
In Queenstown, we went on a helicopter, which was fun, and set down in some snow on a random mountain, which was slightly less fun, as we had stupidly only taken converse shoes to wear. Also, I have a husband who thinks its hilarious to put a handful of snow down my top.
We also had out last tour in Queenstown, with our favourite guide — he was even more of a geek about LoTR than we were and made the trip so much fun, discussing the ins and outs of LoTR. After that, we drove back to Christchurch and flew home.
What would you have done differently? Well, we probably would have sorted out our phones beforehand. It had been decided that Matt’s phone would be set to roaming, but he forgot to do it beforehand. Then we had issues with our first car (as we’d never seen nor heard of pedal hand breaks) and we couldn’t ring anyone to ask why our car was beeping like mad… as we were driving at 100kms/hour on a freeway… with the hand break on. It all got sorted, but having a working phone when you arrive in a country is something which is extremely useful!
What’s your best travel advice? If I can suggest, the inland route from Christchurch to Lake Wanaka is one of the most beautiful areas I experienced during our trip and I could barely put my camera down during the drive!
I thought that all the tours offered wonderful experiences (both for people who love LoTR and those who aren’t that fussed), partially as the whole of New Zealand is so picturesque (if you are into that type of thing). Also, while the cities are small, they are clean and have loads of interesting shops and places to go (for instance, Weta Cave in Wellington!)