Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations. The first was around Paradise where Beorn's house, the land between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, Isengard, Amon Hen, and Lothlorien were filmed. Unfortunately, we were stopped partway through one of the forests by a creek too large for our car to be able to ford. The scenery was pretty, but I couldn't help but notice how similar it was to some of the coast of California. I think someone coming from a city or the plains would have been more startled by all of the features. It made me appreciate my experiences in California, for sure.
|where Isengard was digitally added in LOTR|
Back in Glenorchy, we parked in a lot by the lake to eat our lunch (in the car, because it was sprinkling and very windy out). I noticed a big black dog on the beach barking as it tried to get two ladies to play fetch with it. I assumed the dog was theirs and was feeling up for some socializing. We got out of the car, started throwing the stick for the dog, and struck up a conversation with them about the dog. Turns out, they were tourists and the dog actually belonged to locals and knew it could get people to play with it by visiting the beach area (a new crop of tourists every day!). Later it was joined by a golden retriever. One of the ladies was from Australia. Her friend was from the U.S., and it turned out she had a PhD so we talked about the lousy job market, and she offered advice on how to get ahead once we received our degrees. It was a very encouraging encounter -- one of those occasional travel experiences you don't seem to get as many of when you're stuck in your daily routine. We parted ways, then as we were filling up at a gas station down the main street, she ran into us again and gave us her business card so we could stay in touch.
On the way back to Queenstown, we stopped to hike at a couple other LOTR locations near Closeburn and Twelve Mile Delta: Ithilien, where Sam saw the oliphants, the place where Sam cooked the "coneys" or rabbits, and the spot where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum watched the battle between Harad men and the Rangers of Gondor. It was here that we unknowingly were bitten by bugs on the trail and had to deal with a few itchy bites on arms and legs the rest of the trip.
|in the Twelve Mile Delta area|