Real People! Real Gandalf Hats!

Breakfast at the Powderhorn Chateau on Day 6 was very tasty and very filling.  This is really a fantastic place to stay.  I highly recommend staying here, and not just because I slept in the same bed as Frodo, but the soft fluffy towels, the cushy bed, the rustic decor and the location of it being so close to the Tongariro National Park makes this a really good choice to spend the night.  And apparently it’s even better in the winter when the ski slopes are open.  I’ll pass on the winter but I’d certainly love to come back in the summer.  And even then, in the summer, it can feel like winter because we are so much higher up.  Enough gushing.  It’s time to talk about Gollum’s fishing expedition for Frodo and Sam.

Do you remember the scene where Gollum was chasing after a fish down the river with Frodo and Sam in the background?  No?  That’s okay.  I couldn’t quite remember that scene either until I saw the screen shots.  Anyway, the location is just at the top of the Mangawhero Falls and Gollum was very close to the edge of this particular waterfall.  One or two wrong steps and that would’ve been the end for Gollum.  After we all did our poses on the rocks, we wandered further down the path to see the actual waterfall.  That was a big drop.  I’m glad Gollum didn’t fall over the edge.  It was a very nice waterfall.  And just as we left, it started to rain.  Perfect timing.

Next stop?  Gravity Canyon, where two of the fellowship decided to to the hydrochair lift.  No one in the group felt like throwing themselves off the ledge.  I had considered doing it, but I have a lot of hikes planned for the remainder of the trip.  I don’t need to ruin the trip by having something bad happen at the beginning of the trip.  The people at Gravity Canyon did say that they have never had any deaths, but still, who wants to be the one to break that record?  Not me!  The other reason we were brought to Gravity Canyon was to check out the river.  Does it look familiar?  Think about that rowing trip that the fellowship went on after visiting Lothlorien.  It looks quite similar to the River Anduin, doesn’t it?  We had one more photo stop for a better River Anduin site.  Does this look more familiar?  Aerial view shots?  Use your imagination!  No?  Then just admire the scenery.  There is a lot of scenery in New Zealand to admire!  I’m serious here!

So we hopped back on the bus and then almost as quickly stopped at this little cafe called Flat Hills for lunch before heading off to Wellington.  To get us in the mood and to help pass the time, Julie plugged in The Hobbit, the extended version, for our viewing pleasure.  We made a pit stop in the city of Levin.  Here I discovered another yarn shop.  My very first Knit World store.  Oh that lovely yarn.  It was very exciting.  But my goal at the moment was to find a certain set of knitting needles that are made of carbon fibre.  Now that would be so sweet.  The lady in the shop was able to help me track down the items in four other locations.  So I will have to look for them when I reach those cities.  I had to leave this yarn store empty handed.  That’s okay.  Day 7 we are supposed to go to the Elven Cloak factory.  I’m so excited!  Stansborough yarn!  More yarn-y goodness!  And elven cloaks!

Sorry, distracted again.  Anyway after our stop in Levin, we had a nice surprise.  We got to meet Trever Bau.  He was one of the stunt doubles for the characters in Lord of the Rings and he was also a scale double for Bilbo in the Hobbit movies.  He was such a nice guy.  So genuine!  So real!  And he had great stories about the actors and what it was like to be on set with everyone.  We went to his ranch and sat in the barn surrounded by horses.  It was great!  I don’t know how long we were there asking questions and listening to his stories but we were all reluctant to leave.  But leave, we did.  I think I enjoyed this portion the most, in this entire day.

Once we arrived into the capital city, for those not in the know, that would be Wellington city, we headed to our hotel, the Amora Hotel.  It’s in a very good location and it has a gym!  Yay!  And just next door is The Green Parrot Cafe.  Apparently this cafe was a favourite for Aragorn.  The portion sizes at this place were huge.  I had the lamb chops.  Quite tasty.  I think I can say that this is the first time I’ve ever had lamb, only because I can’t remember ever having knowingly eaten lamb back home.  Not that I have issues with eating lamb, but it’s just not a typical meat dish in Vancouver, at least for our kitchen.  Anyway, while we were waiting for our dinner to arrive, I was chatting with Craig, telling him about my trip after the tour.  And again he was super helpful because he told me about places to go to and how to best get there and whether I had taken on too much to drive.  After our discussion, I will have to rethink certain portions of my trip.

Oh and did you know that Gandalf’s staff was made from the wood of a Lancewood tree?  Did you know that the Lancewood tree evolved in such a way to protect itself from the Moa bird, which is now extinct?  The trunk grows up straight.  And the lower leaves angle down at about 45 degrees and is rough and prickly and unpleasant for Moa birds to eat but after it reaches the 3 metre mark, the leaves grow pointing up and is soft?  Smart plant!  Did you also know that New Zealand’s worst train accident took place on Christmas Eve back in the early 1950s?  A crater wall collapsed up at Mt. Ruapehu and lahar came down the river and knocked out the bridge.  And a full train came rushing across the bridge at night.  A farmer saw the destroyed bridge and tried to signal the train to stop but it was too late.  How terrible!

And another update on my list of things to eat/see/do:

  1. Tried the Jaffa Candy.  It’s an orange flavoured candy surrounding chocolate.  It’s candy.
  2. Tried lamb.  It was okay.  Might have to try it again some other day.
  3. Tried Whittacker’s Chocolate, specifically Hokey Pokey.  Yummy.  There is one that is L & P flavoured.  Might try that one too.  I have seen lots of L&P being sold, but the bottles are so big.  I haven’t found any single serving size bottles yet.

So on Day 7 I finally had a breakfast that was closer to my comfort zone.  It was a buffet breakfast where we could pick and choose what we wanted from hot food to cold cereals.  Thank goodness for muesli and yogurt!  It was time to bring back the discipline, slowly.

Our day started at the best place on earth.  Okay perhaps I exaggerate, but I was so excited.  We were off to Stansborough, where they made the fabric for the elven cloaks that were given to the fellowship in Lothlorien.  There we met Cheryl who told us the story about how they came into being.  And then she took us to the back where we saw these old looms that they used to make the fabric and we even got a demonstration from Barry on how the looms worked.  Wow, just having that machine on for the few minutes was deafening.  I can’t imagine how anyone back then could’ve used those things without losing their hearing or losing a few fingers.  After some more pictures shots, we headed back to the shop for the best part, trying on the cloak!  And the Gandalf Hat!  I have to say that I really like the hat!  However I don’t think work would approve of the hat and my nieces would just laugh and say I’m silly.  Oh, how much I still have to teach them!  After playtime, it was down to some serious business.  Where was the yarn?  There was a little basket in the corner with yarn, but really, where was the yarn?  Oh Dear!  Oh Yay!  There is more stock upstairs.  I ended up walking away with four skeins of the natural grey.  There was green, red, blue and browny orange as well, but they were not screaming out to me.  So I stuck with the natural grey, DK weight.  I asked if there was any lace weight, but she only had two skeins.  So I got those two.  I already know what I’m going to do with the DK weight.  Take a look at this pattern.  It’s called the Legolas Kerchief.  It looks absolutely lovely.  I can’t wait to start on this project.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the lace weight stuff, but I’ll come up with something.  In the mean time it will be added to my stash.  Oh Bliss!  And yes, I have the entire LOTR collection of patterns from this designer.  Just take a look at all the pictures, either on her blog or on the ravelry website.  How can you not like that?  The other one that I want to knit is called The Mere, however I don’t know how to knit with beads so my project will be beadless.  I’m getting excited just thinking about it.  Since I can’t get anymore lace weight Stansborough yarn, I will do the next best thing and find lace weight made-in-New Zealand yarn instead.  Good thing I’m not headed home till March.  I’ve got time to hunt some orc.  Okay so after getting my fill of yarn and wool products, i.e. the Gandalf Scarf, an Elven-Cloak-fabric scarf and another pretty pink scarf that was totally unrelated to LOTR or the Hobbit, we were off to our next stop.

We were on our way to the quarry where they filmed Helms Deep and then later on, Minas Tirath.  Here you had to make sure you had a good imagination, because…it looks like a quarry.  But after a thorough description and further questioning, I could see it.DSC_1628

Afterwards we had to drive over the Rimutaka mountains.  Holy crap is that a windy road!  And after talking to Craig, I have discovered that I will have to drive it when I’m returning from Masterton to Wellington.  Holy Crap!  It’s okay.  I can do it.  I’ll just be a slow driver and pull off to let people pass me.  It’ll be fine.  Well, after we got to the other side, we were headed over to private property, to see the sights of Lothlorien, where Galadriel waved goodbye to the fellowship and more as well as the sight where Smeagol killed Deagol for the ring.  These were the most beautiful gardens I had ever been to.  The sculptures in the gardens, as well as the flowers and the animals: sheep, chickens, roosters, dog, and peacocks just added to the beauty.  And the house!  As we stood admiring the house, I half expected to see Mr. Darcy come out and ask what they heck we were doing on his land.  Good thing we had Julie with us.  Shame there was no Mr. Darcy.

Okay.  Sorry.  Distracted again.  So after playing in their garden, it was time to head off for lunch.  Craig drove us to Kaitoke Park where we got to eat like Hobbits.  The food was amazing and there was so much to choose from.  Chicken, Roast Beef, Ham just sliced off the bone, Green food (veggies) such as lettuce leaf, sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers of various colours, Smoked Salmon, various cheeses, including cheese that had gone all mouldy and so much more.  No chips though.  It was so delicious!  It was too much!  After stuffing our faces, no food fight, the food was too good to waste, we were off to the site for Rivendell, located in Kaitoke Regional Park.  There really is nothing left of the buildings, but there are maps and posts that tell you where the buildings were located.  It’s still a nice park to go to, once you’ve had your fill or the information boards.  We wandered around the area and then returned to the bus for the ride back over the Rimutaka range.  Once back in the city, we were set loose to run amuck.  Kidding!  But we did have a free afternoon.  Julie highly recommend the Te Papa museum and I had every intention of going however I also have priorities.

I knew there was a Knit World just off Cuba Street.  So that was my goal.  As I wandered in an out of the shops, I found an Icebreaker store, with their new summer goods, then I discovered some old book shops, and then I found Knit World.  Check out this blog for a description of how to find the shop and other yarn shops in Wellington.  I’m not going to say it’s my mission to go to all these yarn shops (I have limited space in my luggage), but should I come across them, while wandering the city in my spare time, I certainly won’t avoid entering the store.  So I found Knit World and they were having a sale on certain brands of yarn.  I was strong.  I touched.  I did not break.  I did not buy.  But I did pick up two pattern books for more knitted dolls.  They are the cutest things I have ever seen.  I can’t wait to start them as projects as well.  So after getting my fill of lovely yarn, I continued wandering up and then down Cuba Street.  Eventually it was time to find a place to eat.  The goal, New World grocery store to get something affordable and relatively healthy.  I ended up getting a slice of pizza just around the corner from the hotel.  It was okay.  Good thing I had a can of tuna to supplement.  And a pear.  And an apple.  Dinner was relatively early so I got a chance to FaceTime with Sister W and then it was time for the gym.  I was going to go out to New World but then I thought about it again.  I only needed to go there because I was looking for dinner.  But since I had my sad slice of pizza, I didn’t really need to head out, so I headed to the hotel gym.  How I’ve missed exercise!  And now I’m suffering for it.  Curse that treadmill.  And what’s worse?  The numbers here are metric.  I’m used to seeing numbers in miles per hour back home, but these were in km per hour.  I had to do some fiddling with the numbers to get the right setting for me.  After an hour of torture:  treadmill, thai sit ups, push ups on my knuckles and the plank x 2 (timed against the Hobbit’s Misty Mountains song) it was time to wander back to my room.  And here I am now trying to get this post up before it gets too late.

Tomorrow, Day 8, is going to be a fantastic day.  I will finally get to see Desolation of Smaug and I get to see it at the Embassy theatre!  Yes, I know!  I can hear the gasps all across the world wide web.  I haven’t seen the second Hobbit movie, but that was my goal, to see it in New Zealand and now I get to see it at the Embassy theatre!  Hurray!

Wish you could all be here, Luv Aunty!


2 thoughts on “Real People! Real Gandalf Hats!

  1. The Desolation of Smaug is fantastic! Thanks for great daily updates. You are being very restrained in the knitting shops but I do understand there is plenty more time.
    If ever back in Auckland, head to Milford on the North Shire to go to Crafty Knitwits. Just beautifully laid out and they do coffee and cake.


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