Hey. Remember when I said at the start of the year that I was gonna write more blog entries and be more involved with people about what I’ve been up to in New Zealand and be more responsible for what I write?
Hah. Hilarious, right?
To be fair, not much has happened this the start of the year. I mean, yes, things have happened. Relationships have changed. Friends have been gained and lost. Work’s been going on. I met two Hobbit actors. I caught up on The Walking Dead. I’m officially starting a podcast. Of course things have happened. But nothing to write home about, y’know? I just haven’t felt compelled to write a blog entry in a long while. (Well, except maybe about the Hobbit actors.)
To make up for my absence, I come bearing tales of new adventures and photographs galore! Let me tell you about the week Beckah came to visit!
So two weeks ago I received one of the greatest care packages from the States I could ever ask for: a visit from my good friend Beckah!
Ever since I announced my trip to New Zealand, Beckah voiced interest in coming to visit me at some point. I encouraged this, of course, and was not disappointed when she told me she’d be coming to see me at the end of February. She managed to get a little over a week off from work. Perfection!
(Not to mention she brought me six packages of Girl Scout cookies. Six. Packages. This lady is a godsend.)
Our first day was spent visiting the Weta Cave (which should come as no surprise after viewing the photo above). This marked my third time going to Weta, but unlike the first two times I manged to go there without spending a single cent. It was difficult, believe you me. They’re selling Bofur’s hat now, and they’ve got this awesome array of TinTin mugs. Yet somehow I stayed strong and persevered (probably having to do with the fact that I was missing a week of work, ie. was not going to be paid for quite some time). Visiting Weta was wonderful though. It served as a great reminder as to what made me aware of New Zealand in the first place – ie. Lord of the Rings.
And of course we also visited Stone Street Studios, where we stood outside the gates and created hypothetical break-in plans. Then that same night we went and saw a play reading that starred William Kircher – the actor who portrays Bifur in The Hobbit. Basically it was a very Tolkien filled day all around, which is always a good thing.
Our second Wellington day was filled primarily with a visit to Te Papa. I’ve only been to this gigantic museum once back in October, but lemme just say that it’s just as awesome/educational the second time around. This museum is so large that you could visit it one hundred times and learn something new with each visit.
Finally Sunday arrived. We got up bright and early, gathered all of our things, and hitched a bus to the car rental place. After sussing things out with the owner and taking a crap ton of pictures of the car before we’d gotten inside of it (in case they tried to charge us for any damage we didn’t do), we were all set. We were ready for our adventure!
Lemme just say that traveling via car in New Zealand is nice. Really nice. Not to say that traveling by bus isn’t effective and you don’t get the scenery, but… I don’t know. There’s just something luxurious about leaning back in your car seat and taking in the beautiful landscape around you. It’s not the same feeling when you’re on a bus.
After four hours of non-stop showtune sing-alongs, we reached our first destination: Napier.
We knew that we’d be catching the tail end of Art Deco weekend, but we had no idea what we were getting into when we arrived! If we had known better we probably would have arrived a day or two earlier, because damn was it awesome. People were talking around dressed as if they had just come out of either Music Man or Chicago. There were tents with elaborate arrays of snacks, gorgeous costumes, gigantic bicycles, and some of the coolest old fashioned cars I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, we had a swell time scooping it out.
The rest of our day in Napier was primarily spent hanging around the ocean, wherein I took an accidental hour-long nap and then read some Book Thief.
The next morning, before leaving Napier, we stopped by the aquarium. I’d already been there before as well, but it was still nice to go back. Fish are cool, y’know.
The next stop in our journey was Taupo. There were no plans of skydiving this time around. Instead, we just relaxed. We hung around Lake Taupo, reading and admiring the beautiful view. We walked a bit around the lake and around town, and Beckah visited some hot springs that night (I stayed behind reading in a hammock, having forgotten my bathing suit). Basically we didn’t really do much in Taupo, but it was just a nice, relaxing visit all around.
We also managed to leave our mark for the world to see (until the tide came in, at least).
Rotorua was next – and may I just say, Rotorua has the nicest YHA hostel I’ve been in yet. During my last stay in Rotorua I WWOOFed and was sleeping in a caravan. Apparently that was the wrong choice.
Of course we visited Rotorua’s bathhouse museum, because it is amazing and educational and an awesome place to visit. (Not to mention it has the friendliest tour guides ever.)
We also managed to visit the Buried Village; a place Kathleen and I had missed out on during our travels.
For those who don’t know, the Buried Village is essentially the site of where a town was destroyed when a volcano erupted a long time ago, killing 120+ people in its wake. We hung out in the tiny museum, then headed on a nice long hike where we got to see actual areas where the village had once been. After learning all about it in Rotorua’s main museum back in August, it was amazing to see the place where it all happened.
Not to mention this bad ass. Joseph McRae. Respect.
We also hung out by Rotorua’s Blue Lake for a while, because apparently hanging out by large bodies of water is what Beckah and I are good at.
The next day was a big one: we went to Hobbiton! I realize I didn’t write about Hobbiton the last time I visited, mainly because I was trying to think of a way to sum up its magnificent, then I ended up putting it off for too long and just never got around to writing the piece.
But really. What can I say about Hobbiton that isn’t already evident? It’s my mecca. It’s magical and wonderful and if I could live there I would.
I’ve ranted before about how I’m basically a hobbit many a time. I’ve got the five physical features of a hobbit: 1) curves, 2) curls, 3) big feet, 4) short stature, and 5) huge eyes. Not to mention I love food and alcohol, I’m great at relaxing and lazing about, and I’m a bit of a homebody with a touch of adventure in me. I’m basically Bilbo Baggins to a tee. Why wouldn’t I want to live in a Hobbit hole?
Going to Hobbiton was a bit up in the air for me, since it is sort of expensive and I’ve gone there before, but my second visit was just as incredible as the first. Not going to lie, when we were driving up to the site I played “Into the West” and “Concerning Hobbits” in the car, and Beckah and I both cried. This should surprise nobody.
Not too long after we left Hobbiton, we managed to get ourselves lost for forever in Hamilton, which made us both incredibly grumpy and such. We spent our entire night in Hamilton eating girl scout cookies and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my laptop.
But earlier, after leaving Hobbiton and before getting incredibly lost, we had discovered the awesome Hamilton gardens, which I had never been to before. So that was awesome. And extremely gorgeous.
The next day we had a very specific mission that we need to accomplish:
Find the toothbrush fence.
For those of you confused, the toothbrush fence is exactly what it sounds like: a fence of toothbrushes. It was referenced briefly on one episode of Flight of the Conchords, and ever since I announced my New Zealand trip my best friend has been badgering me to go check it out. As Beckah is also a Conchords fan, getting her on board with this idea wasn’t all that difficult.
We actually thought it didn’t exist, or it had been taken down, since we had been driving forever and were convinced we missed the location. It finally did pay off though, and we found it. I even got to hang up a toothbrush! Snazzy!
Our last stop was Waitomo. Waitomo’s a cool little place with absolutely nothing to do there. It was beautiful though. I could see myself doing a short visit there in the future, maybe for some hiking and relaxation.
The main reason we went to Waitomo was to do the glowworm caves. That’s the one thing I’ve still really wanted to do that I had missed out on on my first round of traveling (well, that and Milford Sound). Needless to say, it was gorgeous. I learned a lot about the caves and about glowworms, and taking the boat ride around the caves to see all the little lights was magnificent. Such a great experience. (Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the glowworm cave. Phooey.)
We also went on a cool hike through the Aranui caves, where we were allowed to take as many pictures as we wanted. All my pictures turned out to be pretty shitty, but that’s okay. It was still a really neat hike.
The following day we packed up our stuff and took off from Waitomo. We killed a bit of time in Te Kuiti, hiking around, grabbing breakfast, and talking about the future, until my bus finally came to pick me up. Beckah and I bid each other goodbye, and then I headed back to Wellington.
Also, there was this giant statue of a man sheering a sheep.
Having Beckah visit made me realize how much I miss everyone from home. It also made me realize how much I miss traveling around New Zealand. Hopefully I’ll get to do a bit of that again sometime soon. It was nice to get back out there; to feel the weight of my backpack on my shoulders, to be running around trails and museums, and to just be exploring. I missed that sense of adventure. It was nice to have it again.
Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me again soon. Fingers crossed.