2 years ago
A lot of people have asked Kerry, Nick and me about the route we took on our walk from Hobbiton to Mount Doom. So we decided to break our journey down for you, referencing several locations seen in the videos, so that you can literally map out our adventure while you watch.
Day 1:We began at Matamata, New Zealand, at 501 Buckland Rd., where we took the official tour of the Hobbiton set (seen in part 1 of A Simple Walk). It was a great way to kick off our journey, and anyone can sign up for a tour here. My only regret is that I wasn't able to fully enjoy our visit to the set because we were so focused on shooting, but it was still a truly surreal experience.
After the tour (about 6:30pm), we decided to cut across some farmland (we did get permission for this) to shorten the distance we needed to walk that day. We filmed most of Episode 1 at this time, and it's where I chased cows and was shocked by the fence. If we had gone along the road, seen in purple, it would've been about 11 km but we shortened it to about 4 km (seen in red). However, we learned the hard way that though it was less distance, it wasn't necessarily faster. We constantly had to hop fences, double back to avoid hills and other obstacles and stop to navigate.
Eventually, we came out somewhere on Taotaoroa Rd. (Marker B) and headed south-west for a couple of hours until we hit S Hwy 29. Then we went south to S Hwy 1 and then south-west to Horahora Rd. This was the first time the seriousness of what we were attempting hit me; it was dark and cold, our packs were very heavy, and we weren't making good time. I believe we walked until about midnight before we set up camp on some random farmland about 1 km onto Horahora Rd (Marker C).
The morning of Day 2, we groggily packed up and headed down Horahora Rd for about 5 km until we got to the Waikato River Trails. This is a great set of trails along the river that offers some beautiful scenery. We got on it at Lake Karapiro (section 1 in green) and had breakfast at the Pokaiwhenua Bridge Carpark. We walked along the trails and the road for roughly 16 km until about 2 p.m. when we stopped at Jone's Landing for lunch. This was the perfect place for our break. There was a beautiful view, picnic tables and even a swing set to play on, (1:42 minutes into Episode 2). After lunch, we kept on down the road until about 8 p.m. when we stopped at the Jim Barnett Reserve for the night.
Day 3: we walked down the road until we reached the mountain trails of the Arapuni Section (the orange route). This part of our trip was one of the most beautiful in my opinion. We passed by several waterfalls, bridged two mountains with a swing bridge (seen at 5:50 minutes into Episode 2), and witnessed some amazing views. That being said, it was a very difficult trail at times, and we were constantly climbing up and down mountain sides. Eventually, we crossed the Waipapa Dam (6:05 minutes into Episode 2) and broke for lunch where we filmed the short recap of our progress.
After eating, we headed down the Waipapa Section of the trails (the blue route). Along this trail is where the sun went down, and we wandered around in the dark. Yay! We drastically underestimated how long it would take us to navigate this steep trail and thusly ended up in a tough situation. Once the sun went down, we briskly walked for another hour or so until we finally came out to the road at the Maraetai Dam. It was about 9:45 p.m. at this point, and we took a small break to film the RT Life in which we talk about DIY blowjobs. Then we pressed on west on Waipapa Rd for as long as we could before calling it a night.
Day 4 began with us veering south toward Whakamaru Rd. until we reached the town of Whakamaru (marker B). This is where we went into the gas station, bought Powerade and scared several customers while Nick repaired his blistered feet! We had not entered a building since we arrived in New Zealand, and it felt really bizarre to interact with people in there.
We then spent the rest of the day walking down St Hwy 32. Somewhere along here, we stopped to smoke our Hobbit pipes. We then lost and found the ring and nearly died from the heat of the sun. This was definitely the lowest point of the entire trip. We traveled at a snail's pace; we had not yet discovered the blister-popping method for foot maintenance; and we still had almost half of the trip left. We stopped for the night on the side of the road near a place called the Tihoi Venture School about 25 km south of Whakamaru (Marker C). In our tent, we discussed whether we'd be able to actually finish our trip or be forced to get in a car for some of it. If we continued at the same rate, it would not be possible for us to finish. Thankfully, we decided to push ourselves and see how much ground we could cover the next day before giving up.
Day 5... Is continued on Part 2! I just found out that journal entries aren't meant to be books. Check out Part 2 for the rest of the journey and for my final thoughts.