Jun. 21st, 2016

catherineldf: (Default)
Wanted to get this posted while I still remembered everything we did. FYI, for those interested, most of my reactions to recent atrocities and political events are on Twitter under @clundoff and on Facebook as myself. It’s easier for me to respond to things there and what with so many things going on at once, I don’t always get out here for a more detail response. But still here, just in different context.
 
So, New Zealand. We toured around the North island, went to Auckland, Hobbiton (the site for the Shire in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies), the Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Wellington. We took in several museums, a lot of bookstores, several tours, including the WETA Workshop in Wellington when the props and special effects for LOTR, Hobbit, the various Avenger movies, Avatar, Fury Road and a bunch of other films were created. We got to meet a bunch of writers, some of whom I originally met online like AJ Fitzwater, Andi Buchanan, OJ Cade and Darusha Wehm, and they were lovely. I went to Au Contraire, New Zealand’s national science fiction convention and did a panel on gender and sexuality in SFF and had an excellent time. We did not rent a car, choosing instead to fly or bus around, which worked just fine. We took a tour bus between Auckland and Rotorua and got bus cards in Auckland and Wellington. Cabs and van rides to the airports and other locations were easy to get and set up so if you’re thinking about visiting, there are definitely other options besides car rentals. Meals were pretty healthy and straightforward – it was easier to find gluten-free foods than dairy free ones, but both were available. Most places take chipped cards and some machines will give you the option of paying in U.S. dollars.
 
And it was gorgeous. But really the main thing was how pleasant and helpful folks generally were. We were offered directions and suggestions and assistance and all that good stuff in a genuinely friendly way and it really made the trip (not that people are not usually helpful, but this was the extra kilometer). I’m not surprised that some of my friends have fallen in love with the country. I’m halfway there myself.

Some highlights:
1. The Waitomo Caves, all gorgeous with glow worms. Waitomo Caves
2. Maori woodcarving.



3. Visiting Bag End in Hobbiton.
 


4. Weta Workshop


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