Bradley Miner is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Brad is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Wellington airport
Wellington Airport. Seriously!

New Zealand, the genuine Middle-earth! Fans of the Lord of the Rings are bound to be captivated by the stunning landscapes shown in the films.  And I’d be lying if I said that the landscape in LOTR wasn’t one of the things that attracted me to New Zealand in the first place, but I never imagined that it’s beauty could actually all be real.  Well, I can tell you from personal experience that the gorgeous green land and glorious rolling mountains are just as breath-taking in real life!  LOTR can be found all over this incredible country; there are tours galore and filming sites from one end to the other.  Sadly I have yet to see Frodo, Gollum, Gandulf, Legolas, Aragorn, or any of the other notable characters, nor do I have the Eye of Sauron searching for me; but I do have my own, costumed, ‘One Ring’.

Before coming to New Zealand, I was nervous that I would be overwhelming with my slight LOTR obsession, but I was completely wrong! This country is full of just-as-obsessed fans as I am, and some even crazier! I was lucky enough to find fellow LOTR lovers who are just as determined to see some of the LOTR filming sites and other iconic locations as I am.  Not only have I been able to visit some of these locations, I was also able to reenact a few of the scenes with some friends.  The most iconic scene that we have reenacted so far is the ‘Escape from the Nazgûl’ scene which was filmed on Mount Victoria in Wellington (see picture below).  Since I was the only one with a ‘One Ring’ I was nominated as Frodo!  Our reenactment of that scene has been one of the highlights of my time here so far.

LOTR re-enactment

Another LOTR highlight that I was able to check off of my list within the first few weeks of living in this spectacular country was a trip to the marvelous Hobbiton, the home of the hobbits!  Not only did I get to see the hobbit holes, including the home of Samwise Gamgee and the ever-popular Bag End, but I also got to swing by The Shire’s local pub, The Green Dragon, for a drink!  When I went on the Hobbiton tour I was not the only crazed fan, there were a few people even dressed up (which I immediately regretted not doing).  Of course, I couldn’t help myself and I had to get my picture taken with them.  How many other times would I come to The Shire and meet a hobbit and an elf?!

Hobbit and elf

The tours for LOTR can vary greatly and they can satisfy any fellow obsessed fan as well as those who are not as quite into LOTR.  Some of the tours are strictly site-seeing and film locations; while others allow you to dress up and hold some of the props!  I’m not done touring around the country and I have a few other LOTR spots that I’d like to see before I have to return home.  So far, I’ve been to parts of The Shire, Rivendell, the Gardens of Isengard, Mordor, the Paths of the Dead, and a few others. It’ll be a pretty amazing feeling when I watch the movies again, as I’ll now be able to say “hey, I’ve been there!”  One of my next adventures is to the magnificent area of the infamous Mount Doom.  I’m just hoping I won’t have as much trouble getting there as Frodo did. Wish me luck!

The Shire