What’s the first thing you think of when you hear New Zealand? For many, it is The Lord of the Rings. I was first made aware of this Pacific island nation’s shocking beauty while watching The Fellowship of the Ring all those years ago. Most visitors to Kiwi land make sure to include a stop in Fiordland National Park, an important setting in the movie trilogy.
Fiordland National Park set the scene for parts of Argonath on the Anduin River and areas south of Rivendell. For those who are not complete LOTR dorks like me, let me lay it out for you visually (we’re visual beings, yes?)
Let’s get even more visual. Here’s a video. (YouTube won’t let me embed the video, so just click “watch on you tube” to open in another window.)
Don’t you want to live in Rivendell?
We didn’t completely dork-out in New Zealand and take a Lord of the Rings tour, nor did we base any of our travel itinerary on set locations from the movie. However, I must admit to you that as soon as I got home, I pulled out my trilogy DVD set and watched every–single–movie back to back. Oh yea, I paused and googled and tried to match some of the places we went to some of the scenes in the movies. It was an all-night affair….for several nights. I think I just played my geek card, didn’t I?
There are many sites to see in Fiordland National Park, but most people choose to either visit Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound. We chose to experience both. Milford Sound is a shorter journey; they offer four hour boat cruises. If you’re short on time, that might be the better option. Milford is so much more than just a cruise in its majestic sound, though. There are some spectacular day and half-day hikes all along the drive from Te Anau to the sound entrance. We only had time for a two-hour hike, but man! If we could go back, we would definitely do the multi-day Milford Trek, consistently ranked one of the best in the world.
Doubtful sound is gentler and not as fiercely striking as Milford. It is rolling and deep and wise. Yes, I just personified a body of water. The trip takes an entire day (and I believe they offer overnight trips as well, as they also do for Milford). It’s a good haul to Doubtful, eating up three hours or so just to get to the boat. I can’t say that one sound is better than the other, as they are completely different. The Doubtful Sound experience was so rich and relaxing. A really interesting tour of the Manapouri underground power station and dam are included as well.
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