When The Return of the King world premiere took place in Wellington, NZ, I so so so wanted to go. But at the time, it just wasn't going to happen. When the announcement that The Hobbit world premiere was going to take place in Wellington, too, I just had to be there for it. I knew that for the rest of my life, if I didn't go, I would have said "I should have gone." When TheOneRing.net announced they were organizing a tour, I jumped at the chance.
After months of anticipation, I finally landed in Middle-earth.
My trip couldn't have been more fantastic. I made an instant fellowship of friends – there were a few more of us on TheOneRing.net Hobbit Premiere tour than the Dwarves' 13 +1. The day after I arrived, I joined 1,000 other folks on Lyall Bay beach to set a Guiness World Record for the most sand castles built in an hour using a mold made by Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop. I was then whisked away to a Middle-earth marketplace where artisans that worked on The Hobbit sold their wares (of course, I took home a few momentos). I visited the Weta Cave, and as an added bonus which really made my trip, I got to tour "Window into Weta", a brand new section that is open to the public where you get to see a large variety of props and costumes and some of the processes and sculptors in action. I partied with characters from Middle-earth, got to dance to music performed by two of The Hobbit's Dwarves – Jed Brophy (Nori) and William Kircher (Bifur), and cheered as Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Phillipa Boyens took the stage. I attended art shows of two Weta artists – Greg Broadmore's Doctor Grordbot's fantastical creations and The Gloaming by Johnny Fraser-Allen. I got to have drinks at The Embassy theater the night before the world premiere of The Hobbit was shown there and upon leaving the theater, watched as the Hobbiton stage rolled up on the back of a flat bed. The next morning, at 4 a.m. New Zealand time, I was woken by a text message saying I had a ticket to the premiere! I hung out at Te Papa (the Museum of New Zealand) waiting for The Hobbit press conference to let out and was rewarded by getting my photo taken with Aidan Turner (Kili). I walked along the red carpet passing by the actors as they signed autographs and greeted fans. I watched The Hobbit in the Reading Cinema in Wellington, New Zealand, Middle-earth. I visited Hobbiton. And it is real and beautiful beyond words. And I was sent off from Auckland airport by a Dwarven guardian.
I can scarce believe it all happened, but I will remember it forever.