An excerpt from Nicole Hill’s terrific piece “Concerning Hobbits and New Zealand Vacations“:
“It was misting when I first set eyes on Bag End. But even preoccupied by the mud on my shoes and the lady behind me thwacking my head with the rim of her umbrella, I could feel the tingly excitement bubbling up at the sight of that familiar green door.
Even bookish folks—those most often found curled up in a cozy nook with a weighty tome—need to go on an actual adventure every now and then, and here was mine. Some people dream of vacationing in Hogsmeade; popping back a couple butterbeers and calling it a day. Others want to yank an adirondack chair through the back of their closet and find a nice place to relax in Narnia.
And then there are those of us who want to muster the Rohirrim and spend their jolly holiday killing Orcses, Precious. Luckily for us, the deranged Tolkien tourists, there is a little two-island country at the bottom of the world whose lush vistas were so alluring and so substitute-able for Middle-earth that Peter Jackson filmed eleven gazillion hours of footage there for his Lord of the Rings trilogy and now his Hobbit…trilogy (because reasons).
Welcome to New Zealand (‘s North Island), where I spent 10 days of bliss in April, trying to catch fandom lightning in a bottle! I could lie and say my friend and I planned this journey to fully explore a charming country. Truthfully, however, we were in it for Middle-earth. All the other attractions—and there are plenty (Mountains! Beaches! Wineries! Geothermal pools! Fur seals!)—were just icing on the lembas cake.
It didn’t occur to me that what we were doing was “not normal.” Not even during the 12-hour flight that began our brief jaunt, which was a period of middle-seat torture during which the man next to me referred to Peter Jackson as Percy Jackson when discussing our planned Lord of the Rings tours, and I held back an audible sigh.”