And so the family departed from Queenstown and began the journey to Dunedin. As fate would have it, upon leaving the hotel lobby I heard the same song – a girl band remake of ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky – that had been playing when I first arrived (a circularity that is both awesome and terrible; “awesome” because – what are the chances?!, and “terrible” because I’d rather hoped not to hear that particular impure rendition again). Energized by the recognized song, I remarked to my sister, “We’re going off to new lands!” She heard, “We’re flying off to fetus land.” Yes, Karli, I wish we could go to such a magical-sounding place, but no, that’s not exactly what I said and I don’t even want to know where you pulled that idea from. On the way out I thought about doing this
We took a small coach to the train station in Pukerangi (a lovely, low-key, not too well-known, and relatively un-touristy method of travel). Our driver told us some fascinating factoids and stories that I shall share with you:
- New Zealand’s only native mammal is a bat
- NZ has no native predators and no native BEES (moths used to do all da pollinatin’ round these parts)
- Queenstown used to be barren- little grass and no trees, bushes, or fish…. all that was introduced
- The Sand Flies have always been here. Since the dawn of time. They’ll outlast all.
- Our driver recently spent 5 hours cleaning animal hair from his seats. How did the hair get there? From costumed Hobbit actors. Why was he driving Hobbits? Oh, just dropping them off for some filming that happened in the area that we drove through. WHAT?! I’m so jealous of all the Kiwis who can just offhandedly mention their intimate connections to the Tolkien movies. I’m a film major. Being within 10 feet of something having to do with those films is my dream. And they all just… get to be… so close…. it hurts…. It’d be like me swaggering into a middle school cafeteria and being all, “Oh, I just made out with One Direction. All of them. In all directions. No big deal.”
Recognize the terrain?
No? How about now?
These rocky plains were often used for scenes involving wargs. I kept picturing the fellowship darting behind rock sculptures and Radagast being a badass with his bunny sled.
After arriving at our Dunedin hotel, I collapsed in bed (we’d had to get up at 6 in the am on New Year’s Day to catch our ride. I don’t even count 6 am as part of “today.” It’s still part of “yesterday.” Today begins at 8:30. At the earliest.). I dreamt of a different train image: the Hogwarts Express. My little sister was watching/blasting Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone on the telly – presumably some Hogwarts paraphernalia crept into my dreams. I later awoke in time to see baby Ron, astride a large chess horse, sacrificing himself. Still swaddled in a state of sleepy incoherence, I began to cry pitifully whilst watching Ron’s bravery. Then I actually started to wake up and realized, “Wow, that sacrifice build-up is certainly taking it’s own sweet time. Good thing the Queen just stab smashed his horse instead of his body. Why did that knock him out? Oh, so the plot can move forward….” It was quite enjoyable to look back on a film I haven’t seen since I was a kid and I spent the rest of the movie analyzing/commenting on it in a stream of consciousness – oh I remember now how those attractive adults I keep seeing on magazine covers were actually cute kids damn them, how did Voldeface know Harry was being untruthful when he couldn’t even see him? does he smell lies?, since when do wizards snap to create fire?, what was Harry doing with his other hand while Quirrel strangled him?, if I were being strangled I’d probably be using both hands and my teeth to pry off my attacker’s filthy hands, Jackie is Chantastic! (oh, wait, that’s from the commercial), I miss Richard Harris, losing makes Draco look like a sad little Nazi, Neville! Hagrid! ALAN RICKMAN!