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New Zealand Adventure: From Rivendell to Mirkwood

New Zealand Adventure: From Rivendell to Mirkwood by Rachael Ashdown

Legendarium reporter, Rachael Ashdown, continues her adventure across New Zealand visiting all things “Middle-Earth”!

Day 4: Evil Things Did Not Come Into That Valley
The fourth day was full of adventure to stimulate that Took side of me. Morning involved a trip to Zealandia, the nature preserve in the heart of Wellington. Having now seen Merry and Pippin’s own adventure there (check out Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan), it is clear this is an important place for any lover of nature, be they hobbit, elf, or man. In essence, it is a Rivendell for animals. A haven for the the threatened creatures being hunted by armies of invaders.
The second stop of the day was the Buckleberry Ferry (more commonly referred to as the inter island Ferry), and three hours later, the South Island.


Unbeknownst to me, our Wizard (our travel planner and driver) had already booked a place to stay to the southwest. To my enormous delight, it was the location for filming one of my favorite scenes from Desolation of Smaug. But more on that tomorrow, when I actually explored the site.

Day 5: It Is Our Fight
There are some places in this world that we will never forget. The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is one. Though it is not overly remarkable with views of the Misty Mountains or of the great grasslands of Rohan and Gondor, it has a different sort of magic. The Pelorus Bridge Campground is directly next to the river where the final scenes from the Barrels out of Bonds sequence was filmed. Standing there, I could see the scenes unfolding. I could see Bard aiming his bow at Ori. It was unreal. I spent several hours just standing on those rock formations, picturing the elves and orcs following the trail of the dwarves (I won’t lie; I pretended to be Tauriel tracking the orcs along the bank).


When I was eventually pulled away from this scene, I was dragged into Abel Tasman National Park, a park known for golden beaches, kayaking, and mountain biking. None of which I associate with Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Peter Jackson’s films. However, most of what I did was walk, which is essentially half the story of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And though it was not a filming location (at least where I was), I saw parallels to the films nonethless. In the denser parts of the forest, I saw Fangorn and Mirkwood. In the high altitudes of mostly scrublands and sandy earth, I could imagine one of my favorite scenes from The Two Towers: “What is taters, precious?” In honor of this, I shed my footwear and walked down the mountain barefoot. It was a day of walking alone and exercising the imagination. I think both Tolkien and Jackson would be proud.

Rachael Ashdown


Rachael is a freelance writer fresh out of college with a taste for fantasy, science fiction, and adventure. From Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who to Terry Brooks, she loves fictional worlds and the lore that inspired them. She has circumnavigated the globe, visited five continents in five years, and recently sailed aboard a tall ship in French Polynesia. She has a degree from Sweet Briar College in International Affairs, but her passion is writing, anything from sports articles to fan fiction to analyses of military theory. In her spare time she dreams of being one of Tolkien’s elves, practicing archery and wandering through forests wherever her travels take her.

About reuben

Steve, also known as “Rifflo”, is a University MBA Administrator in Ontario Canada where he lives with his wife, Lisa and two young daughters, Alexa and Ava. Steve has an extensive background in corporate sales. Steve also worked for ISAF: International Security Assistance Force and the Canadian Military as a recruiter in Human Resources for the operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan. When not immersed in Tolkien works,sci-fi, and film, you can find him training in Muay Thai, and Italian rapier.

One comment

  1. Wait – you were in Wellington but didn’t visit Rivendell “proper”??? We even rebuilt it recently!

    – Jack

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