Hobbiton Set Tour // Matamata, New Zealand

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I decided last minute to take an adventure to the Hobbiton Movie Set, where both Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy was filmed. I was beyond impressed with the tour of the set & its attention to detail. The movie set is in the middle of no where in the New Zealand countryside; the hills are filled with livestock and imagination.

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The tour itself was roughly two hours, and for what it gave it was pretty reasonable. The movie set is on private land so the only way to see it is by taking a tour. There is a Hobbiton shop and cafe on the outskirts of the private land, but dropping the money for the tour is worth every penny.

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I am not the biggest fan of the movies personally, but I still had a blast. I was ahead a good part of the tour group which never even saw the films (don’t worry i have), so I’ll take it. The scenery is honestly breathtaking in person.

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Everything on the set is real: all the plants, flowers, trees (except for one), etc. The tour is a walking tour around the perimeter of the set.

fun fact: the hobbit holes are scaled differently to give the viewer the idea that the hobbits are so short. Only one is scaled to be life-size at 100%.

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Some of the hobbit holes are fenced off, while others you could walk up to or even walk inside. Although, the indoor scenes were filmed in a studio in Wellington.

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Even after walking by 15-20 hobbit holes, each one is so different. Based on how high up on the hill you are, is how much your hole was worth. Different props are outside each one to specify what kind of hobbit would live there.

fun fact: some of the holes were built only to be featured in a distance in the background for 30 seconds, INSANE!!!

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I was so happy to find out that the time of year I went on a tour, was the perfect time. If you visit during the New Zealand summer, there is little time to stop and take lots of photos due to the influx of people taking the tours.

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I did the tour out of Rotorua (I have a whole post on things to do in Rotorua here). The tour included transportation to and from along with the walking tour. On the bus ride different behind the scene clips were played showcasing what went into making the Hobbit trilogy.

fun fact: the original Lord of the Rings set was taken down after the trilogy, and was made out of synthetic, plastic products. For the Hobbit trilogy, they took two years to rebuild the set on the same farm; that time they built it all to last for years to come, all real wood and products.

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At the end of the tour, is the trip to the Green Dragon. A glass of beer is included (3 different options), or juice, coffee and tea. There is a separate tour that includes an evening buffet inside. I am pretty sure I saw them sell small food items as well.

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The last stop before heading out is the gift shop! I overheard that there is more at this one than the one that is right off the property. Also, there is a gift shop in Rotorua where I caught my tour bus.

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Again, Peter Jackson’s (the director) attention to detail blew my mind.

fun fact: during filming, someone was hired to put laundry up on the lines every morning and take it down at night ONLY so it made footprint indents in the grass.

If you find yourself in the area, or are unsure if you’d enjoy it because you aren’t a hardcore fan, JUST DO IT!!!!!

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Question for you: if given the opportunity to go on the tour would you?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Brighton Beach – south of Dunedin, New Zealand

By living in Dunedin, New Zealand for the past three and a half weeks now, I’ve come to terms with how many beaches there are to explore. In my last post, I explored Tunnel Beach just north of my next destination: Brighton Beach.

Brighton is a small village around 45 minutes of a drive south of Dunedin. It was a gloomy Sunday night and my flatmates felt like exploring, so of course I was down.

When we arrived it was an eerie beach evening.

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Without coming to the realization that the sun was due to set soon, we all turned around in awe to see the colors peaking through (and of course the vibrancy only got better)!

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(peep an excited me)

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LOOK AT THOSE COLORS I’M IN SHOCK THAT IT ONLY GOT BETTER FRIENDS!

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I could not help but to continuously take panoramas, so enjoy.

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Visiting here for the first time during high tide, only gets me even more excited to return while its low tide; there were so many little rocks and islands to explore.

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Once the colors started to subside, the eeriness started to return (but with a more serene demeanor).

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What these pictures do not show, is how just after the sunset was in its full fiery, it started pouring (thanks new zealand 🙂


This country continues to surprise me every day. Some intense adventures are coming soon, like a road trip around the north island!!! Keep posted for more of my trips and adventures. This week I will be putting together a list of my favorite coffee spots throughout Dunedin, no I cannot contain my excitement.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Tunnel Beach – South of Dunedin, New Zealand

What makes this walk great, is you don’t have to dedicate more than a few hours to take in the views. It’s even more perfect if either of these criteria fit you:

  • you are short on time
  • you aren’t a very experienced hiker
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The walk both down and up is steep, so take it at your own pace. It is more common for people to visit Tunnel Beach when its low tide, but don’t neglect going if its high tide. I visited at high tide, and as you can see, it was still 100% spectacular.

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What I really appreciated about the area was:

there wasn’t just one place to take photos, or one view to admire.

Above is one of the views when reaching the bottom of the trail, from there you have a few options.

Man-made Tunnel

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In the 1870s, a man excavated a tunnel to reach a private beach so his family could be secluded in more privacy. (OOOOOOH)!!!

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The beach is filled with boulders and insane looking rocks & cliffs. It makes a lot of sense why someone would go through the trouble to build a tunnel to get here, the serenity.

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Mini Peninsula

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Head out a bit further along to the peninsula and see the waves crashing along the side and circumferential views of the coast.

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*peep the cheeky little seagull who decided to model for me*

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I plan to go back at low tide soon to see how much more beach and rock is exposed. If people are interested I could either update this post or do another post altogether.

I highly recommend making the pit stop if you are in the area. I did get there by car but there is the Dunedin bus system which has a few routes that stop not terribly far from the beach.


Anyone been to New Zealand and have recommendations for me??

Make sure to comment below if you do!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

First full day exploring Dunedin, NZ

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Dunedin is the second- largest city in the south island of New Zealand. Dunedin is more urban than I expected; you can walk practically anywhere within the lines of the city.

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This past weekend, I had a jam packed day full of exploring around both Dunedin, and its’ surrounding areas.


  1. St. Clair Beach
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First stop is the ocean, are you surprised?

St. Clair is just south of Dunedin and is a popular surfing spot. There are some nice outdoor cafes, but the main draw is the ocean.

2. Sheep

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After a scenic drive on the Otago Peninsula, it was time to tack into a famous icon of New Zealand: sheep. I visited Nature’s Wonders, which offered a sheep sheering demonstration along with any facts you can imagine about wool and the sheep of the area.

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There also was a short herding demonstration.

3. 4-wheeler trek

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What’s awesome about the company mentioned above, is they offer packages where you can see the sheep demonstration and then hop on a 4-wheeler to trek down to sea level. As you can see, the views were green and gorgeous.

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The first official stop was at a Southern fur seal colony (they blend in so well)! Since the fur seal pups were so young, they weren’t daring enough to stray far from mom.

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top tip – If you plan it right, say two weeks from now, the pups are about the age where they get curious about humans and will come close for better viewing.


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(I apologize about the quality, I only had my phone on the tour)

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Next up, was to a beach untouched by humans for seventeen years. What I learned was how temperamental yellow eyed penguins are; if one feels they are unsafe or uncomfortable, their entire colony will flee the next day. A general example is blood or other samples were taken humanely from penguins for research, the next day the whole colony fled.

The yellow eyed penguins are known as one of the rarest penguins of the world; different factors play into their decreasing population, like disease and habitat degradation.

A vital tool in viewing the penguins, is doing it in a way that doesn’t break their trust.

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A tunnel and hidden viewing platform (under vegetation) was built to give both the yellow eyed penguins, and also the blue penguins (another species found here) enough room to do their own thing. Conservation is at its prime importance here in New Zealand, and it’s great.

My tour was able to see a yellow eyed penguin strolling on the beach.

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….but… the penguins have a ramp… for when they get curious…

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4. Signal Hill

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To get to the top you can either walk it, or drive it. This time it was by car, but next time I’m excited to walk up. Signal Hill is located just north of Dunedin and overlooks the Otago harbor. On top there is some parking and areas to picnic.

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5. Baldwin Street

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Known by the Guinness Book of World Records as the steepest street in the world (even beating San Francisco).

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It is an amusing tourist spot, which attracts many different kinds of people. Some walk it, some make it their work out, and some drive it. Those who drive usually are the ones with rental cars because the trek both up and down I would imagine isn’t great for your car… Also there is barely any room up top to turn around to go back down…. but your call!! While I was there, one group even did the drive two times….hm.

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More personal updates will be posted soon. I caught some sort of sickness while traveling, and with it being mixed with jet lag, it has required a longer adjusting period.

But nonetheless, a lot is to come!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Auckland Airport // tips and tricks

International Arrival

Departing my plane was normal; I went through customs once getting off, etc. BUT after, there was bio security which takes a lot more time than you’d think (even if you aren’t declaring anything). New Zealand is very keen on keeping the country of New Zealand free from unwanted diseases and pesticides, which is awesome (but does add another long line to wait in).


top tip – If you are arriving in Auckland from an international flight and you are not from Australia/New Zealand plan extra time (if possible) to prepare yourself for the wait!

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Domestic Transfer

To get from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, or vice versa, there’s two options: walk or take a free shuttle.


top tip – there is only a coffee shop and a to-go convenience store once you pass security in domestic! take advantage of the food court right before security (learn from my mistakes!)


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Shaky Isles Coffee Co.

If you do have time after security in the domestic terminal, check this coffee shop out (is it a chain? im new here….)

The aesthetic of this little shop in the airport takes the cake…

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…and so does their coffee. So thrilled to have experienced my first official New Zealand flat white here.

I apologize for the delayed post updates, it has been very hectic since I arrived in New Zealand. Be on the look out for everything to come!!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

reflecting on a plane

I took advantage of down time, casually reflecting on a flight to LAX.

Traveling is hard and stressful, no doubt about it. Security can take way too long but…. here I am!

It’s amazing how relaxing flights can be; once you’re in the air you don’t have much room to stress about what is going on down on land. It’s like I’m in my own corner of the world, just watching TV.

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…but I’m flying through the stratosphere. Weirdly, it makes the emotions and anxiety worth it, to have time like this.

Every flight is different: some are relieving but some are hell; the emotions range from time of day, to who you’re sitting around. Right now the key is hydration (no mater how in the mood I am for a coffee). I’ve had the most water I ever have on a flight (wooo!!!) and I have a carry on hand cream and all that jazz. If i can knock out some of the dehydration to come that’d be great, because to have anything on top of jet lag is not ideal.


Finally it’s starting to hit me where I’m going (see here). Look at me being so optimistic!!!!!! (when next, I have a 7 hour layover and three more flights)! Emotions are weird let me tell you!!!

question for you: How do you stay sane on a plane?

okie,

over & out

foot

traveling with anxiety

It took me a very long time to figure out what anxiety was, and if what i was feeling fit that.

I don’t want this to be a sad post, I want this to be helpful for anyone who may feel the same.

Traveling involves a lot of indirect trust and loss of control; there are a multitude of unknowns. We don’t know if our flight will actually be on time and if it will arrive the time it claims it will. We don’t know how long the airport lines will take, or if you have time to eat before boarding. As I prepare to head to the airport tomorrow, anxiety is subconsciously on my mind. A reoccurring theme for me, personally, is time.


main questions

the kinds of questions that are most common when I am anxious

+ what is going to happen if I don’t get there in 5 minutes? will the world end? something explodes?

+ what else could I be doing in that time I’m saving/losing? Is it productive?

+ but what do I gain from rushing around besides saving time?

side effects

physical & emotional results of my questions

+ come off as impatient or pissy, but depending on the anxiety it could be distracting/consuming as well

+ faster breathing & rushed heart beat

+ can be paralyzing; only focusing on what is making me anxious

coping mechanisms

ways that I try to ground myself

+ deep breathing

+ focus on something else (listen to music, watch something, etc.)

+ call/text someone

+ but if that is not possible, then write

+ helps piece thoughts together

+make sense of what is rational vs. irrational

+ self pep talk!

+words, phrases or songs that calm me

+ telling myself to calm down (in a way lightens my feelings and brings humor into it)

question for you: How do you cope with anxiety over things you can’t change?

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I leave for the airport TOMORROW! A lot of fresh content is coming your way!!

stay updated  —-> twitter —-> instagram —-> bloglovin

All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you (somehow hit 100 followers??? AHHH)!!

Lots of love,

foot

…let the countdown begin

I leave for New Zealand in two weeks.

I’m going to repeat that to help my personal denial wake up, I leave in TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!!

how am I preparing? did I actually start packing? what do I still need to get? culture shock, what!?

Packing has begun (as of today), and I am trying to be as minimalistic as possible. I’ve always been pretty good at packing and going over what I need and what I don’t. I have gradually been crossing off things from my “opposite-land” list (almost done EEEEEEE), and surprisingly don’t need to get as much as I thought I did!!!

I think most of the preparation for my departure abroad is mental preparation. I am still in shock thinking that this is happening. I feel it won’t hit me until I leave the states. I have been so consumed with what is in front of me that I am not necessarily thinking of where I will be two weeks from now. On one side, it’s a good thing because I’m actively practicing one of  my goals (see: What I hope to accomplish abroad). Although, on the other, I don’t want to be consumed with so much awe that I get distracted (let’s be real I am going to sit on the beaches and stare at fur seals and sob #marinebiomajorsunite).

Once I get there, I think I am going to be so overly ecstatic with everything new and exciting that I will be living on a cloud for a while; there’s nothing wrong with expressing happiness and excitement.

Any tips for me? for possible culture shock? packing? breathing?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

What I hope to accomplish abroad

Yesterday I sat down and expressed in my journal what my personal goals are for my adventure abroad to New Zealand. I didn’t realize until writing them down, how many there are (looks like i’ll be keeping myself busy!).

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  1. Focus on what’s in front of you: I tend to look towards the future and forget about what is going on around me in that moment. I’m an avid planner; I love to organize my life months in advance (like “oh! what else could I be doing now?” or “where will I be going next week?”). One that I am currently battling with myself, is: “Where else could I travel to during my semester? What other countries could I get to explore?” (ash, calm down and breathe for a hot minute). I hope to step back and instead admire the beauty and my opportunities in New Zealand first.
  2. Spend more time outside: Along with admiring my surroundings, I want to take a break from my phone and laptop and spend more time taking in the scenery. Hopefully I will go for more walks/runs and find excuses to instead, go outside (maybe even combine the two and work on my laptop while at an outdoor cafe? hmmm). thumb_IMG_2088_1024
  3. Be wise about money: I didn’t find this one surprising since money is a stressful topic. For me personally, it is a lot of making sure I am working enough at home to save up for travel and school. I hope that with my new “planner” obsession, I will be able to track my spending more and keep an eye on what funds to keep aside for the weeks to come. On the other hand, I do love to treat myself, especially to a nice coffee; so for me, it will be important to find a balance between the two.
  4. Gain connections both socially and in the field: I am not only traveling to New Zealand because I think it is an awesome place to visit, but I am for my future science carer (for a more in-depth reasoning of “why New Zealand” check  this out). I hope that with my planned research for my capstone project, I will able to secure connections in a country that has endless opportunities for a marine biology major. On the other hand, I hope to make some life-changing friendships with memories I can look back on for the rest of my life (awwwwww!). thumb_IMG_2067_1024
  5. Learn new techniques, specifically in research: Additionally, I aspire to pick up techniques and ways of thinking that I have yet to learn. With my hopefulness of conducting my own research one day, my excitement to learn will sure help me push through.
  6. Step back & be proud of accomplishing a big dream of mine: It takes a lot in me to be proud of myself, I think that goes along with my first personal goal; I do not always step back and realize how far I’ve come. Studying abroad has been on my mind since first actualizing that it exists. Before enrolling into university, I thought it would be even cooler if it was possible to learn at a different school each semester. Although, now I realize that my idea isn’t actually practical. I am, in fact, very happy with my choice to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Maine.thumb_IMG_2090_1024

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Fortress Hohensalzburg – a photo diary || Salzburg, Austria

When visiting Austria this past summer, Salzburg was one of the main stops. Besides the attraction of “Sound of Music” tours and filming locations, the Hohensalzburg Castle was pretty hard to miss; It overtakes the Salzburg skyline.

The fortress was built in the eleventh century, under the rule of the Archbishop at the time. The castle only went under siege once, in the German Peasant’s War in 1525. By the 19th century, Hohensalzburg was made a staple tourist attraction. It is known as one of the largest and best preserved castles of 11th century Europe.

At the time, I sadly only had my iphone for taking photos so I apologize for the quality.

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To make it to the castle you have two options: hike or take the tram. To save money, my family and I hiked (yes, I mean hike. the pathways/stairs get very steep at the top). Although, the steepest part is at the end; so, even if you take the tram, which goes almost to the top, you will have to hike up the steepest part (which thankfully had spread out steps to help hold your grip).

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There was some signs showing us where to go, but at times it was guessing (& thinking, well ok I know I’m going to head up somehow…).

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A good tip is knowing that there is an admissions fee to enter the fortress grounds. I don’t remember it being that reasonable, especially if all travelers are adults.

After admissions there is, in fact, another steep hill, and a few staircases!!! (Yay!! time to treat yourself to some Austrian pastries!!!!!) The path opens to a large court with a gift shop, restrooms, etc.

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Upon entering the very top, there is a few museum-type exhibits going into the history of the fortress (the lines get long but move quick).

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The top has multiple 360 viewing areas. The amount of photo opportunities even on a cloudy day is insane.

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I recommend leaving yourself a lot of time to explore all the rooms and viewing areas. The views are worth every broken sweat. Times like this, only make me want to explore European castles to the fullest extent possible.

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