Friday, May 31, 2013

the great cloak of Tia

(literally translated from Māori languageTaupō-nui-a-Tia means "The great cloak of Tia", where Tia is the name of the discoverer of the lake.)

Technically the first 10 photos are from our drive to Taupo in the evening. The landscape in NZ is to die for. I swear to you - the photos don't do it justice.

On the way to Wellington, I saw a sign for a US Marine Corps Memorial so we scribbled the location down on the map and decided to check it out when we were driving back up to Taupo. We got a little turned around, went about 10km past it on the highway, but finally made it. And I am so glad we did! I was afraid it would be a pitiful little memorial and waste of time but it ended up being really awesome. Vincent read ever board and told me the highlights (I was off taking photos of course). His old unit 1/2 was even mentioned! If you'd like to know more about the USMC's time in NZ check it out here.

We had a room right on the lake and it was beautiful. The first thing we did was walk around the downtown area. Taupo was by far my favorite city that we went too. It felt very relaxed but also up-scale (does that make sense??)

Taupo is know for Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam. Huka Falls is when the "Waikato River, normally up to 100 metres wide, abruptly narrows to just 15 metres as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge. This of course causes a huge volume of water to collide together, forming a spectacular visual feast of powerful falls and rapids." It's a pretty cool site! 

The Aratiatia Dam was used in Th Hobbit movies (you can see it here in the newest trailer - it's when they are in the barrels going down a "river". The dam is released three times a day in the winter and it is an amazing site. The walk to the look out points are incredible and the power unleashed when the water pours out it beyond words. 

We also went to Huka Honey Hive (not pictured) and Lava Glass Gallery. Huka Honey Hive was a great little family-friendly store. It was educational and tasty ;) I would highly recommend it!

Watching someone blow glass has been on my bucket list for a while now so I jumped at the opportunity. It was awesome and such a neat process. Needless to say I convinced Vincent to pay a pretty penny for a piece of glass to take home with us. I will share a post on our souvenirs later on ;)

Lastly, before we headed back to Auckland, Vincent wanted to try the Great Lake Taupo Hole in One Challenge. He did REALLY well but was unable to get the $10,000 prize ;)

I wish we could have spent more time in Taupo because it was such a beautiful little city but alas, we must head out to Auckland and then Hawaii!!

view from our room

 L.A. Post Here

Auckland Post Here

Wellington Post Here

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Lord of the Rings Tour

So, this post will be a little different because I will have a comment under most of the photos explaining them. Just thought it would be easier that way!

We did the tour with Movie Tours because their price was better and they feed you lunch! Our tour guide, Alice, was awesome. She knew a ton about the movies, filming, and the general Wellington knowledge. She was also very funny and straight to the point - my kind of gal!

It was a two part tour (morning and afternoon) and so we just did the whole day. In the morning there were only 4 of us (Vincent being the only guy) and the afternoon was full of couples. 

With out any more jibber-jabber, here are the photos! And believe it or not, there are MANY more. I just picked the best and coolest! Yay!

(side note: I'm not a LOTR total nerd, so I may not have ALL the info correct... plus it was a lot of info!!.... please feel free to correct me in the comments)

This is the quarry where they created the sets for Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith (the grass above those signs). It is literally off the side of a major road. Alice said since the movies were all filmed before the first one was released, no one cared about the filming. She said most people in Wellington blew it off as another "crazy Peter Jackson movie" --- boy were they wrong. By the time people realized how big it was, the sets were torn down. The photo she is holding was taken by a journalist that was hiding in the trees (right of the photo). 
This was in a park in Wellington that was used for Isengard. The two scenes here are when , in the Fellowship of the Rings, Gandalf rides into Isengard and the other was when the two wizards were talking about the gardens. Alice then pulled out two giant sticks and made us walk.... 
Pretty easy to tell. This is the scene after Aragorn falls off the cliff fighting an Orc and washes up on shore. The scene in the movie is the first and only usable take because the horse wouldn't re-do the scene. Since Vincent was the only guy, I made him lie down... Such a good sport!
This river was used in a deleted scene. It's where Faramir sees Boromir's dead body floating down the river. So sad, so we took a photo of us! ;) Doesn't it look all King Kong behind us?! (also shot in NZ)
These are in Rivendell. Such a beautiful park. Again, since Vincent was the only boy, Alice made him dress up as Legolas. The "shot" was never in the movie but this photo was used for promotion stuff. 
Not an official symbol of NZ, but the silver fern is a widely recognized  and used in NZ. 
proof that I am taller than a Hobbit ;)
super cool swing bridge in the park with Rivendell
The Embassy Theatre - Return of the King and The Hobbit's world premieres were here. 
In another deleted scene, Sam and Frodo are chilling in a tree right after they leave the Shire. So here ya go ;)
The wonderful volunters! Right behind them is the hill and "cliff" the hobbits fell down running from the farmer in the Fellowship.
The tree has been removed (since it was fake) but this is the "hole" that the hobbit's hid in when the Nazgul was after them. Look at Vincent's award winning performance! ;)
The next photo will explain! ;)
Ok, so that's the "spot" where the Nazgul passed while searching for the hobbits. And yes, those three boy made that awesome horse (and it was just as awkward in person as in photos)
ALL of the post production for the LOTR and Hobbit movies in done here. 
Weta is the special effects company that worked on the LOTR and many other movies. This is there little shop/museum.
Bilbo Baggin's feet
Ack! The trolls!!!

 OK, so it was weird at first because it was ONLY landscapes and after doing Hobbiton it was kinda "meh" but it was still pretty good. Alice had videos and photos to help make the experience come to life. :)

L.A. Post Here

Auckland Post Here

Wellington Post Here

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



The drive from Rotorua to Wellington was tough. Long curvy roads, 100 kph (which is 62.14 mph! ugh), small towns, and two-lane highway. What I found cool and interesting was every so often you would see these signs with little picnic tables on them and that would direct you to a little spot to pull over. I thought it was cool… Vincent didn’t since it mean more photos! I brought a tripod after all! It was a spectacular thing though – to see a country from the top to bottom. I loved all the little towns we drove through.

We spent a few days in Wellington and even though it was raining, we had a great time. We did a full-day Lord of the Rings tour one day and I will have that for you in another post.

Our first night we went and saw Iron Man 3 at the Embassy. The Return of the King and The Hobbit premires were held at this theatre so I was pretty excited. It was by far the nicest theatre I have ever been in.

We decided to do a tour of Weta Workshop – they are the special effect group that did movies like the LOTR, Avatar, Iron Man, Avengers, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Weta has become the TOP company for special effects around the world which is why the nickname “Wellywood” is catching on. No photos were allowed but if you ever get to go to Wellington, take this tour! It is amazing and priced really well!

Side note: Just so you know, Weta is named after a bug native to NZ.  

We took a tour of Parliament – yea dorky, I know. But it was actually very cool. The buildings are absolutely stunning and the interior is beyond words. It was almost like being in a castle than a place of government (the comb looking building and granite building are buildings of Parliament - I forgot to add the library) 

We went to Cuba Street which is known for its boutique shops and food. I got any awesome sweater and pair of pants!

Lastly, before heading to Taupo, we went to the waterfront. It’s stunning.

I’d like to point out that about 75% of these were taken with a point and shoot camera (not my big dSLR) – that just shows how pretty Wellington is!!

more about the USMC in NZ

L.A. Post Here

Auckland Post Here