One month till the Real Middle-earth

Thirty-one days from now, we’ll be heading off the the real Middle-earth: New Zealand!

We’ve been planning this trip for a long time. As siblings, we always wanted to do at least one grand trip together after college graduation. Now that we are all settled with steady jobs and blessed with the time to do it, we finally booked our flights this past February.

Over the past few months, we’ve been filling in all the details, and pretty much all but the actual doing of the trip has been done. What’s planned is planned and whatever unplanned things happen will be part of the adventure. We’ve got a red binder (Red Book of Westmarch, anyone?) full of tickets, confirmation numbers, maps, and brochures. Leslie Knope would be proud of our binder.

To give you a gist of our trip, we’re doing a driving tour of New Zealand via campervan. Campervans are a national pastime in NZ, and we thought why not book our accommodation and mode of transportation in one fell swoop? It’ll be a little tricky driving winding, mountainous roads on the left-hand side, but we rented an automatic, since none of us are practiced at stick, so at least there’ll be one less aspect of the driving to worry about. (Our apologies to one of our favorite Kiwis, Phil Keoghan, the host of The Amazing Race, one of our favorite TV shows. It seems as if every season, one or more teams has a lot of trouble with stick!)

We’ll be starting in Queenstown, on the South Island, and driving (mostly) northward. Crossing over the Cook Strait via car ferry, we’ll finish our tour on the North Island in Auckland. Some highlights of our trip will include a detour to Milford Sound (the only time we’ll be going southward), a mountain hike in Wanaka, and tour of the Hobbiton movie set, with plenty of stops and scenic views along the way.

We’re doing this in 2.5 weeks, which is a bit of a tight schedule, from what we’ve researched online, but we think we’ve come up with a nice balanced itinerary of doing stuff versus driving per day, though there will still be a lot of driving. Not to mention, we’ll lose 2 days getting there because of the extreme time zone difference and the travel time it takes to get from Michigan to the South Pacific.

It’ll also be the end of winter/very early spring in September, since we’ll be in the southern hemisphere. NZ winters are supposed to be a bit milder than ours in Michigan, but NZ seems to be a place that is beautiful in all seasons.  Winter worked best for our schedules, plus it won’t be peak tourist season, so more room for us! It still might be a bit of a shock going from Michigan summer to NZ winter, but we Michiganders can handle a lot of extreme and quick weather changes. All weather is beautiful, some is bit more perilous than others. Hopefully most of our weather will not be of the perilous type.

We haven’t even been to New Zealand yet, and we already want to go back! There is too much to see and do in NZ, and the Internet is a endless pit of ideas and inspiration, making it difficult to make decisions, but we did our best based on recommendations from friends and, honestly, sometimes photos from our favorite NZ Instagrammers, like @lebackpacker. In the end, however, we have no doubt that however it works out, we’ll have a blast.

We can’t wait to actually post photos and write about our time. One month to go! Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf–here we come!

P.S. Prayers appreciated for a safe flight and no road incidents.


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