It’s time for some “The Lord of the Rings” experience! No wonder why New Zealand has been chosen to be starred as Middle-earth in this trilogy, everywhere you go you face stunning and exotic lands and locations, the atmosphere and people make it even more magic!
The ferry I took from Picton on the South Island, crossed the Cook Strait and dropped my off on New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, also referred by Lonely Planet as the “coolest little capital in the world”! It’s the second most populous urban area in the country, housing around 400,000 habitants. It also houses the Parliament, arts scene, café culture, film and theatre industry.
While there, I took a cable car ride up to the Botanical Garden, visited the Te Papa Museum (a very interactive museum, and a good place to get to know about Māori culture), took a bus to a the suburbs to visit the Weta Cave (a behind the scenes museum that brought movies as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, King Kong and ‘The Hobbit to life. It is a mini museum, and you can also take a tour to crafting the art area by paying a certain amount of dollars, I guess it’s only worth it the visit if f you’re a big fan.
Together with a few cool guys I’ve met back at the hostel, we’ve got to experience Wellington’s nightlife at the colourful and bohemian Cuba Street, visiting some bars and dancing on the street with the sound of local indie bands live music.
After 4 days, I took a bus up to the center of the North Island, to the city of Taupo. A 23,000 habitants town, around the largest lake in New Zealand. Lake Taupo was a volcano that erupted about 1800 years ago, forming a volcanic plateau on the center on the North Island. The town hosts some adventure tourism such as bungy jumping, nice hot springs and a hiking path along the river to the Huka Falls.
From Taupo you can easily reach the Tongariro National Park, the Mordor Land from the Lord of the Rings. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the one of the best experience I’ve ever had. It was a day track, that goes from alpine meadows to mountain summit with volcanic landscapes along the way.
The track takes 7 to 8 hours, including time for breaks, photos and side tracks to Mount Tongariro or Mount Ngauruhue (known by Lord of the Rings fans as the Mt Doom). The weather was not easy, even with the sun shinning on summer time, the wind was blowing with a considerable strength and it was freezing cold. I had such a great company that made this experience even better. All the effort to climb up and down hills, with falling rocks was paid by the incredible view of the Emerald Lakes.
By the end of the day, when we got back to the bus that took us back to Taupo, we were all dirty, with messy hair and too exhausted to realize what I great day we just had. Nothing better than a shower and some beer before we went dancing on small, but crazy, nightlife in Taupo.
It was in Taupo that I’ve made a good friend from England. After I left Taupo, we’ve met at all my next stops in New Zealand. Traveling is definitely not only about visiting places, it’s mostly about the amazing people you meet who makes all the experience even better.
I was running out of time, so besides the fact I’d love to stay a little longer in Taupo, I had to rush if I wanted to see the rest of the North Island. It’s time to see some thermal activity and Maori culture in Rotorua!
- Untold Tales 28: The Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand (twentyfirstcenturynomad.com)
- Taupo and Tongariro Alpine Crossing (biancadalessio.wordpress.com)
- Taupo & Mt. Tongariro (lyssagoodrich.wordpress.com)
- Around & about the North Island (merrylittlemisfit.wordpress.com)