On our fourth night we camped in Tongariro, where Mordor and Mt Doom were filmed. Or where I will always imagine were the Barrow-Downs. This is where I saw a taxidermied kiwi, in a nature office where I used the loo, and I fell in LOOOOVE! It’s the cutest ugly bird I’ve ever seen. It’s huge feet and beedy little eyes…oh for goodness sake. I wanted to see one so badly in the wild, so Jamie and I went on an evening walk to see if we could find one.
We set up the tent in a marshy wooded spot along a river, surrounded by pampas grass and scented flowers covered in bumble bees. There was a trail that took us into the boggy heather moorland around Mt Doom. I am sad to say Mt. Doom was covered in clouds the whole time we were there, but the foothills and surrounding mountains were beautiful, and it was easy to imagine orcs and shelob and the eerie lights leeding us astray.
We never did see a kiwi, though we could hear their calls, but we did see a fan tail (another of New Zealand’s revered birds) protecting and feeding its little baby bird.
It soon began to pour and we spent a very wet, cold night being awakened by orcs (the other campers who loudly went to bed at 11 and loudly left before dawn).
The next day we took a chair lift into the misty mountain peaks and looked out at Mt Doom (the eye still covered in clouds) and then made our way to the west coast.
After more glow worms (saving that for another post), we went to Bridal Veil Falls. It was like a scene from Rivendell; little wooden bridges spanned our way through the forest and led us to the very top of the falls, and then to the very bottom where a lush green hollow held a pool. I watched the sun set from the top of the falls, then as we drove out to the coast we watched the moon rise.
We found a couple of kiwis (men, not birds) floundering (fishing, not doing nothing), who told us of a great camping spot under a big tree along the bay. It looked just like how I imagined the Grey Havens! We spent the evening star gazing with wine and chocolate on a little cliff while the kiwis mucked through the bay with their lights beneath us. I felt like a true elf looking into the west!