The Hobbit Trilogy: An Evaluation

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I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last night. 3.5/5 Read on if you need to understand my rating.

Yes, the film adaptation of the beloved novel, “The Hobbit”, originally one piece of literature; originally planned for a two-film adaptation with Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson; changed to a two-film adaptation with Peter Jackson; ultimately ending up as a trilogy heavily including material from the appendices, has finally come to its prolonged conclusion. Please don’t call yourself a huge LOTR fan if you have never read the books. Many of my points and discrepancies come from a disregard of the original literature.

BOFA is a guilty-pleasure film, with action I found much more compelling than “The Desolation of Smaug.” Both films’ action defies probability and gravity. However, BOFA didn’t have that ridiculous barrel scene, so it gets a pass. It’s a blown-up action film with Middle-Earth as its background. I enjoyed it on a visceral level and just accepted that it was a stupid action film. It was not as dreadful as DOS, but maybe I had lower expectations. The opening scene with Smaug destroying Lake Town doesn’t work as a beginning of the film. The second film had such a cliffhanger revolving around this dragon about to destroy this city, and to end it 10 minutes into a film that came out a year later feels anti-climatic.

In the opening scene and 40 minutes into this film, I did not care about anyone and was very aware I was watching a film. It took the superb acting by Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins to suck me back in. His dialogue with Thorin (credit to the screenwriters) adds a human element to it. Due to the fact that “The Hobbit” trilogy has a George Lucas touch to it, hinders any real character development. Also, there’s 13 dwarves and a handful of other characters to follow. It’s hard enough keeping up with the dwarves in the book. To Peter Jackson’s credit, that seems like a hard feat to accomplish. But what doesn’t help is that these films are butter scraped over too much bread. There’s great source material to follow and it didn’t need three movies. It’s a stretched out story with as much CGI crap that one can fit in each frame (the George Lucas effect). The film focuses too much on the unnecessary (it’s unnecessary because the original story flows fine without the film’s inclusions) material of the appendices and attempts to be as epic as LOTR, that the character development is stalled and they’re set pieces for a visual experience. Side note: why is Billy Connolly’s character all CGI?

Much like DOS, BOFA’s action does not posses any real peril. The characters are almost untouchable, but I applaud the film makers for following the source material and killing off Thorin, Fili, and Kili. It was one of the few times I felt an emotional connection…..well 2/3. Kili and Tauriel’s romance made me not care more. I know a lot of people have found this romance cheesy, and rightly so. This brings me to a lot of my main points. A lot of the grievances people have with these films are aspects that are NOT in the novel. I follow a lot of Youtube film reviewers; Schmoesknow, Jeremy Jahns, Chris Stuckmann. I really appreciate their opinions and it often makes or break if I see a film. However, they often justify the concept of stretching out “The Hobbit” story and tell people not to compare the source material. But their gripes, like many other film goers, stem from elements that the film is not a stand-alone piece.

It’s Not In The Book/It Is In The Book

I’m annoyed when I hear that the books don’t matter, because they do. As I said earlier, don’t call yourself a fan of the series until you’ve done your homework. Unless you’re Steven Spielberg, you should probably stick to the novel’s material. I’m not a Tolkien purist and understand changes need to be made when you’re making a film. “Jurassic Park” is a great film on its own and it steers from black and white in regards to the novel. But “The Hobbit” novel is a perfect, linear story and the characters you’re supposed to care for, you do. There’s a sense of adventure that the films lack. It’s trying too hard to be like its epic LOTR counterpart. I have my issues with the original trilogy, but I feel Peter Jackson did the best adaptation you will ever get, and I don’t mind most of the creative liberties they took. The Scouring of the Shire; important, yes, but as a film, it does not translate well after destroying the ring. Tom Bombadil; my favorite character (next to Pippin and Merry). Tom and the barrow-downs is such a rich element of the novels and it’s the epitome of great fantasy. But ultimately, it does not affect the overall story of Frodo, which is what the filmmakers were adamant about. There’s much more to discuss about LOTR, but this is about “The Hobbit.”

Radagast the Brown has been dubbed by a few as the Jar-Jar Binks of these films. While not as bad, he’s a zoophile who smokes weed and is covered in bird feces. He rides around on CGI rabbits and is used as an eagle tamer in the final battle of BOFA. He’s nothing more than a sentence in the novel and I think we all prefer him that way.

The romance between Tauriel and Kili has maybe about 10 real minutes of screen time. Sure, Kili makes a penis reference in DOS, but that doesn’t count. Not in the book, not necessary. I don’t understand creating Tauriel. I really liked Evangeline Lily in “Lost”, but this character is not interesting. And when you add her romance with the one dwarf without dwarf prosthetics, it’s forcing a connection that’s not there. The fact that it’s a made up (made up as in not the book’s material) romance with a made up character is too distracting for when you’re supposed to feel something when Kili dies. Kili originally dies with Fili defending a wounded Thorin. It’s more honorable and I cared a lot more. His made up romance with a made up character who serves no real purpose is laughable, not tear-jerking.

Orlando Bloom is great as Legolas and I tend to forgive his over the top antics in the film’s depictions of the Battle of Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields. His banter with Gimli helped is the human element that was missing in “The Hobbit” films. You saw their friendship grow and the film really captured their arcs. But just knowing Legolas was added in for fan service makes me despise his action scenes. He’s untouchable! I also never worry about him because he’s in the next set of films. He kills one of the main villains in BOFA, which I guess isn’t so bad. The main orc that’s not Azog isn’t in the book, so having a character not in the book killed by a character not in the book works….I guess. Legolas’s lack of mortality (besides the fact he’s an elf) is one of the reasons I’m not huge on prequels. Prequels tend to use the same characters from the original, so I’m not too worried about them. The fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” is fun and goofy and all, but you know they’re both going to live. Anakin turns to charcoal, but you know him and Anakin are in EP IV-VI.
Legolas also has aged! I’m not the first one to say this, but he doesn’t have that elegant, elf-like look he had in LOTR. He has a Benjamin Button effect.

Gandalf’s side journeys are a desperate attempt to bridge both stories. Gandalf disappears a lot in the novel, and you accept it because he’s a cooky wizard. You don’t need to know where he’s going (unless you read the appendices). Your focus is on Bilbo and the company. Gandalf being captured by Sauron and seeing the Sauron gif is another desperate attempt to stretch out the story. They eventually vanquish Sauron in the BOFA, but that’s it? For over 60 years, Gandalf never attempts to uncover anything or has any real memory about it? Is it really not until Bilbo gives the ring to Frodo that he bothers to do any research? Hey Gandalf, it’s an odd magic ring that Bilbo found, and you just were captured by a ring maker, maybe you should look into that! Sure, Saruman say’s “he’ll handle it” but over those 60 odd years, you never bothered to ask questions? Sauron did not need to be a focus in the film, but a foreboding presence to the next set of films. With this bridge, you’re left wondering why Gandalf was neglecting any of this. Also, the battle with Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond against the Nazgul ruined the mystery of the Ringwraiths. You know just enough in LOTR and in BOFA, they’re goofy transparent spirits with different aesthetics that don’t line up with the hooded menaces. This story did not another made up action scene. Seriously, was the barrel scene not enough?

The singing in “An Unexpected Journey” has been met with some mixed reviews. I’ve heard that it’s too kid-like or that it’s corny. Well, hate to break it to you, but “The Hobbit” novel is a kid’s book that is a bit corny. It’s one of the aspects I found the most gratifying in the film. When the dwarves are washing dishes in Bag End and break out into a tune, I broke a smile. I thought it was a great way to include the singing, which is greatly excluded from the LOTR films. It captured the magic of Middle-Earth and AUJ is actually my favorite film in this trilogy. It was the only film that had the adventure-sense and there’s a magic to it that was eventually bogged down by overly-long orc fights in the next films. Yeah, there’s a ton of creative liberties taken and the pacing is off, but I felt like I was in Middle-Earth. It wasn’t in an action movie with Middle-Earth as the setting. It also has a lot of Hobbiton, which is my favorite element from the films and novels. I recently took a trip to Hobbiton and it’s the reason I felt compelled to even write this review.

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I found AUJ to be the most loyal to the novel, and it captured it well. The climax with the cave goblins and Azog served well, even with the extensive time it took to get there. People, primarily those who did not read the book, went into AUJ expecting an epic like LOTR and were disappointed. Of course they were! It’s not supposed to be this grandiose tale. “The Hobbit” is on a smaller scale and does not possess the elements to match LOTR. Sure, the filmmakers tried, but it wasn’t there in the first place.

The encounter with Smaug in DOS starts off great. Bilbo steals the show, yet again, with a CG character. Smaug looks awesome and he lives up to his reputation. But then the dwarves get involved and make that weird dwarf statue. You’re submerged in this dialogue with this hobbit and this monster, and to have it end with dwarf shenanigans was odd, and another reason DOS is my least favorite. It too, was not in the novel and it did not serve as a good climax. As I said earlier, DOS ends with such an emphasis on Smaug’s fury and he’s killed off in the first act of BOFA.

The pacing plagues AUJ the most, but the other films as well. AUJ takes too long to get to the point; DOS takes too long to get to the point, but throws more action scenes in it to please teenagers; BOFA is the polar opposite. There’s a 30ish minute build up, a 60ish minute battle, and a 20ish minute reflection then it’s over. All three film’s pacing suffer from the fact that appendices material is added and it all feels like filler. When you watch AUJ and DOS, then read the novel, it’s humorous how quickly you get to the encounter with the trolls and Beorn. It takes an hour to see the trolls in AUJ and a whole movie for Beorn.

I Do Like The Hobbit Trilogy

I really do. BOFA looks awesome. I saw it in high-frame rate and unlike when I saw AUJ 48 frames per second, I found it complemented the film’s visuals. It wasn’t weird and distracting. They’re well filmed and well acted. I don’t think anyone would doubt Peter Jackson’s talent, and Howard Shore’s music is what separates the LOTR trilogy from many films. Billy Boyd and Annie Lennox both have great songs that see off each trilogy. It’s what makes my stomach drop at the end of “Return of the King.” “The Hobbit” trilogy is fun for its own reasons, but it could have been so much better. If Peter Jackson took the same approach to “The Hobbit” as he did with LOTR, that is, sticking to the novel as best as possible and honoring Tolkien’s work, we would have had a fun singular film and a four film epic. Sticking to the novel would have solved the pacing issues, the stupid inclusion of Legolas and creation of Tauriel, the romance, the character arcs etc. I am really trying to condense my thoughts, because unlike these films, I want to get to the point. The novel ain’t broke, don’t turn it into something it’s not.

We now have a six film saga, so I guess that’s neat. I can at least get through “The Hobbit” films to reach LOTR; I have a harder time with Star Wars EP I-III. Overall, I ache a bit knowing that this is probably our last film experience in Middle-Earth until the remakes. The tradition of seeing these films each December was still fun, and harkened back to my nostalgia when I saw the LOTR each December back in middle school. I still cannot stress enough to read the novels. They’re a difficult read at times, but they are so beautifully written and there’s a lot of neat stuff that isn’t in the films. I’d also be a liar if I said that I don’t own both versions of AUJ and DOS (theatrical and extended) and I’ll probably do the same with BOFA. These films certainly aren’t perfect, but it’s a great portal into a fantasy world that I’ve grown to admire since I first read “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

Backpacking in 82 Days-October 19-26 Final Days in NZ; Start of Asia

We are in Bali now, but here’s a lazy recap of the end of New Zealand and other such endeavors. I’m also having wordpress issues, so ignore the hilarity of BIG pictures.

October 19- It was my 25th birthday, and probably the best one yet. It’s damn near impossible to top what Devyn and I did. We did the Pure Glenorchy: Lord of the Rings scenic tour. It was an early morning, half day tour and after a lot of wine drinking the night before, 8am wasn’t friendly. What this tour does: It’s a 4×4 tour where you get picked up from your accommodation with a small group and they take you to various locations from the film (ie. “boil, mash em, stick em in a stew scene” isengard, Lothlorien. Aside from the nerdgasm, it’s a beautiful scenic experience.

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After, we had some time to kill in Queenstown, being we got back at noon. Now, Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and makes backpacking on a budget difficult. We splurged on a jet boat, but that’s about all we could afford. Bungy jumping, skydiving etc all range from $190-300+ NZD.

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We got an amazing wardrobe with this adventure, clearly.

To top off an excellent birthday, we ventured to Fear Factory Queenstown. It’s hyped as NZ’s scariest haunted house and in the tourist pamphlets, it has some pretty rave reviews. Devyn and I are huge horror fans and don’t scare easily. We think modern day horror sucks and has been dumbed down to torture porn. How scary can this really be?

My hats off to FFQ for they freaked the shitballs out of us. It’s a maze you do in complete darkness and you have to follow these red lights. You’re constantly feeling around in the dark, with “things” feeling around for you. We were pretty much stalked and mocked by a crazy woman the whole time. She laughed maniacally, grabbed us (they can touch you) and turned off our red lights. It’s hard to explain how good they get you without recapping the whole 20 minute maze. What they do well is playing off subtlety, the unknown, and messing with your imagination. It’s what true horror is.

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October 20-23- We left Queenstown and took a long drive to Christchurch. Other than stopping off the side the road to check out an old church, it was an uneventful few days. Christchurch was badly damaged from an earthquake in 2011 and it’s a scene right out of a post-apocalyptic movie. No words can explain how gnarly the damage is. We felt a bit odd and disrespectful taking photos of the damage inflicted. We really just spent the days preparing to leave for Bali.

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Recap on NZ-kiwis are amazing human beings. I’ve said it before, but they live a hobbit lifestyle. Good food, drink, and company is all that’s important. They are incredibly helpful to travelers and were genuinely interested when we mentioned that we’re from California.

We listened to a lot of NZ politics radio and their news mainly concerned the Ebola scare and ISIS. Global news was a larger topic there. Being an island on the other side of the world, their political problems aren’t as large. They had an hour of a vet giving pet advice. It was great! An interesting parallel with them and the states was their “issues” with various Maori people. From what I gathered was that they tend to be the participants in many crimes committed in NZ. However, allegations came out that the police were racist and targeting Maori people much more. Understand the parallel America?

October 23-26. 4am wake up call to get to the airport and start our trek to Denpasar, Indonesia. After a layover in Australia and a 12 hour endeavor, we landed in Bali. It was there where we really felt out of our element and truly on the other side of the world. Mushrooms are legal here, but everything else equates to the death penalty.

Leaving the airport, we were bombarded with people trying to carry our luggage and get a tip out of it, as well as taxi drivers trying to rip you off. Thanks to our Lonely Planet guide, we learned to walk through a parking lot 300 meters away and hail our own.

The drive to our hotel is where it sunk it. Their traffic is an all out free for all. Ironically, the best drivers I have ever seen. On these narrow roads, they know how to maneuver.
Aside from going to Mexico to get drunk when I was 18, this is the first time for myself personally, that I saw first hand poverty. It’s only supposed to get worst as we work our way to Cambodia 3 weeks from now. It’s incredibly humbling.

When Devyn and I return to the states, we have to save up for our wedding, buy cars, get jobs and an apartment. If these are our only problems, we are spoiled. The real Balinese people, (not the hawkers) are beautiful people so it’s pretty heartbreaking.

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That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our few nights in Kuta enjoying the beaches and great/cheap food and beer. It’s another reason we felt terrible; we are living like kings and queens basically at the expense of a poor country. I understand tourism has boosted Bali’s economy, but it sounds like an invalid reason to pat ourselves on the back. I really want to return to the states much more appreciative of what I have.

As a californian, I’m just a lucky person. It’s why I can’t stand nationalism. Unless you have served he country or have overcame obstacles to live here, (those leaving Mexico) your nationalism is justified and God bless you. Everyone else, according to Chris Rock, are just lucky. I’m no better than these people because I was born advantageous. Our goal here is to respect these amazing people to the hugest of our abilities and show our gratitude for their incredible hospitality.

You do learn how to be pushy. Hawkers are always trying to sell the tourists cheap merchandise, such as clothes and tours. They’re always coming up to you trying to force a sale, so while being polite, you have to be pushy back. You can’t blame them, though. They’re just trying to make a living in a tough environment.

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A lot of Australians holiday in Bali. We met an awesome family at our hotel and it was the first time on the trip we really met a cool group at our accommodations and really compared cultures. Until then, it was just crusties in our hostels. Until we visited NZ, Australia, and Bali, I was under the impression everyone hates America. We do suck on a gargantuan level, sure, but when I was in Europe 6 years ago, it was open season on me. Just like we are with others, they were genuinely interested in American and California lifestyles. So, yeah, shut up England (I know not Europe) and France.

Our first few nights were in Kuta. Seeing the poverty of good people made Devyn lose it (I found a good one) and last night, the high level of stray dogs and cats hit me. Unless you’re callus, I guarantee any first time travelers will tear up while visiting Southeast Asia.

We left Kuta to travel to Ubud today. It was an odd and shady circumstance of changing ghetto shuttles 3 different shuttles. While we were slightly on edge, we still had fun.

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Once in Ubud, the Balinese continued to spoil us with kindness. We found a really awesome room 3km from the center of town for $23. That gets you a resort. Devyn told them it was our pre-honeymoon and, well….

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We’re undeserving assholes. Wear right next to rice fields so needless to say, the scenery is awesome.

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Backpacking in 82 Days: Oct 7-18 2014

It’s been almost two weeks since we had decent wifi, and I can’t remember every date perfectly. Enjoy the incredibly long post about a trip that only my parents read about. Wifi in NZ is spotty, unpredictable and most of the time, you have to pay for it. It’s tough being a white, privileged male sometimes. Where to begin…..

October 7- Hobbiton to Rotorua. I left off before we went to a Maori dinner. Maori are essentially NZ’s Native Americans. Really interesting culture and primitive. But for how primitive and spiritual they are, they are the happiest and most respectful people. They have the bare essentials: food, shelter, family, and their deity. It’s all you need and is why Hobbiton was so sweet. It’s a reflection of a simpler time, even though it’s fantasy. NZ culture isn’t too far from that. Happy people and focus on the three aforementioned life factors (depending on your spiritual choice) image image image imageThis also marked the first night Devyn and I had real food for dinner. Needless to say, we ate our weight in meats, veggies, and beer.

October 8- We left for Taupo the next day. It’s a neat little town set on the huge Lake Taupo. That’s all I have. We were extremely burnt out and did nothing once we got there. We drank wine, ate and passed out to recharge. The next morning, we took photos of Mt. Doom (presumably) on the other side of the lake. It was clear and you could see across to the mountain range. image The alleged Mt. Doom is on our other camera.

October 9- We took off to the Hastings/Napier area that day in Hawkes Bay. It’s one of their wine regions. We booked two days there to settle down a bit and do wine tasting. Besides the wine, the town lacked a charm, or personality. The only personality we discovered were the Germans in our hostel partying all night. According to the guy at reception, “this is the time of year where German kids finish school and their parents give them money to go away. ” It’s a nice way of kicking them out of the house temporarily.

October 10- We rented bikes to ride around the different wine regions and to do tastings. What we failed to realize was that riding from the rental spot to the different wineries, or the winery triangle they call it, is about 14km. It’s no surprise the renters were impressed with us, or baffled by our stupidity. You’re generally supposed to schedule a bus to take you and your bike to the wine trail. Not for this bodacious couple! image image Look for Hastings, then look for number 2. See the triangle near 1&2? That’s the region we biked to like morons.  The tastings were almost worth it. After hitting 5 wineries, we couldn’t bike back. We we’re too pooped. So, like the awesome people they are, one of the rental’s kiwi workers picked us up and called a taxi. He even gave us a free tasting at his winery. Paul, you’re the man. On another note, New Zealand can do white wine like NO ONE’s business. Superb Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Gros. You’re drinking the earth at their level. Napa whites don’t hold a candle.

October 11-We took the long drive to Wellington this day. It’s essentially LOTR central. It’s where Weta workshop is located and a handful of filming was done there. Wellington, like most “city cities,” driving and parking suck. Their parking is worst than San Francisco’s. We booked our hostel, aka frat house for 3 days. LOTR reference: Wellington reminds me of Rivendell and Lothlorien. They’re cities built around trees. They don’t tear them down, but build around them. Most of the first night was settling in and checking out their food and drink scene. Solid craft beers in Wellington.

October 12- We checked out the Te Papa museum and other aspects of the city. Wellington has an awesome farmers market. imageimage imageimage image The weather was up to 17 degrees Celsius, so taking the cable car to the botanical gardens was solid.

October 13- We checked out the Weta Cave, a LOTR’s fan toy house. It has a bunch of props from the films as well as other films the company worked on. We took the workshop tour, which is exclusive and does not allow any photography. Needless to say, we saw a lot of props and sick costumes. We then drove to Mt. Victoria which has a walking track that was used for the “get off the road” scene. If I have to explain this, you already don’t appreciate it. This was a good last day because we were done “loitering” around the city and we were ready for something else. Unlike our hostel roommates. Their definition of traveling is hostel hopping to binge drink. With no exaggeration, many of the hostels we stay in are frat houses. Sure, Devyn and I are old farts at heart, but you’re in New Zealand! Go check out the sites. There’s also great places to drink! Check out the night life. They’re clean crusties. It’s such a waste to sit around blazing during the day and have a hostel party at night. The only reason I ever did that was because I couldn’t legally go to bars. In the words of my parents; “grow up!” Yes, I sound old and senile. imageimageimage October 14- We had to wake up early to catch the ferry to the South Island. But our alarm was muted and it wasn’t until we realized it was too light outside to be 6am that we noticed. We had less than an hour before our ferry left. We packed in a hurry (I forgot a shirt in the process) but we made it. It was well worth the freak out because on a clear day, the ferry from Wellington to Picton is amazing. . image image The pictures don’t do any justice, so why waste time? Once in the South Island, we planned on staying in a small town called Renwick. It’s near Blendheim and Marlborough. They’re areas known for their Sauvignon Blancs. Guess what we did? image One winery only made Pinot Gris, so it was interesting tasting one wine and trying to see how aging wines really makes a difference.

October 15- We took the 7 hour drive to Franz Josef. The drive we took down the coast from Westport to Greymouth is one of the top 10 most beautiful drives in the world, according to Lonely Planet. Today marked the day where I also realized Devyn likes to put diesel in cars instead of regular gas. It was an expensive mistake, but we had fun talking to the mechanic, who was really open about his life. He also showed us his house.

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October 16- We woke up and left Franz Josef. It’s an amazingly warm, small town with a pretty awesome view.

image It’s been the small towns like this we have had the most fun. They usually mean great scenery, people and of course, food&drink. The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown is stunning in itself. image image

Queenstown is really neat. Much like Wellington, it’s built around the trees, but on a larger scale. The mountainous background doesn’t hurt. It feels like Colorado mixed with California, but with better food. It is the adventure capital of the world. Sadly, we are on a budget so can’t bungy jump or skydive. We’ve done both in the states, but still a bummer. I recommend coming to NZ with a lot of money. Really cool activities and events, but it’s all costly.

October 17- This was a day tour to the Milford Sounds. Awesome stuff! We had a long bus tour from Queenstown to Milford and on the way, you see some great sights. Our bus driver made the drive fly by. Once you get to Milford, it’s where the cruise boat is. You take it through the Milford Sounds, which is surrounded by waterfalls and treacherous looking mountain ranges. The rainy weather made the scenery awesome and ominous.

image image image image image image image It’s another prime example of pictures not doing any justice.

October 18- It’s raining in Queenstown and we did our laundry. I don’t have any photos for that. It’s my birthday tomorrow and we are doing the Pure Glenorchy: Lord of the Rings tour.

Backpacking in 82 Days-October 5-7 2014

Finally found free Wifi! Here’s a nifty recap for the past few days……

Also, we have a fart ton of photos on our other camera, but can’t get it to connect to wifi. Suggestions?

10/5….Devyn and I met in San Francisco on the 28 bus, got engaged and decided travel. So, to start off our trip, we spent the first night in San Francisco’s and Portlands love child; Auckland. It has all the characteristics of a city, minus the crusties. It even has a large Asian influenced culture.  After living in a city, it’s a bit underwhelming and you aren’t mystified by the city life. Our hostel had 12 people in it, with a weird dude that was trying to pick up on a Latin girl. There was also a French guy yelling in his sleep.

We didn’t take much photos of Auckland and the next day, being the 5th, we picked up our car and learned how to drive on the wrong side of the road. We took a trek through the coromandel peninsula, with our end destination being Hahei.

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Hahei is ridiculous. It’s like a Hawaiian paradise, times a really high number; you choose. Devyn drove on the left side of the road really well, almost killing us a few times. We had to dish out a few extra bucks to get the hostel in Hahei because of the isolation.

Our hostel

Our hostel

Kiwis are awesome. Happy on life people. We had dinner at this paradise’s own brewery, The Pour House. It’s only been open for a few months and will already be in Lonely Planet’s 2015 NZ travel guide. Due to being on a tight budget, we’re living on nutrition bars. Eating here started us on our diet of beer, mussels and pizza at the end of every night.

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10/6….. We woke up bummed to leave Hahei. Before leaving, we hiked to the cathedral cove. The pictures sum it up better. imageimageimageimage

From here, we had a really long to Matamata, home of Hobbitn. It’s a small place in which you can tell the LOTR films put on the map. Roads to here are littered with road kill. The animals are farmed well and all free range, so they seem to get on roads often. We ate our beer and pizza diet at The Redoubt. It’s a small pub decorated with LOTR stuff.

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10/7……We woke up and went to Hobbiton. Do I really need to talk about it?

image image image image image image image image image image image image image Hobbiton was epic. There’s at least 100+ photos we took, but for the sale of my patience, here are a few. Getting free ale at The Green Dragon at the end of the tour was solid. The film crew really did an awesome job at creating this world. It’s the same feeling you have going to Disneyland, but mixed with Middle Earth. It’s insanely authentic. We are both huge fans of LOTR and re-read the books before the trip. We even saw where the Old Gaffer lived and saw the Hobbit hole used for the final shot of Return of the King. I was depressed to leave. I got sucked in that world of beauty and simplicity….mixed in with ales. We are now in Rotorua and heading here after Hobbiton is a sure fire way to bum yourself out. You’re high on life and then you’re here, where it has the stench of sulphur and rotten eggs because of the volcanic activity. Tonight we are going to the Maori equivalent of a Luau.