New Zealand is NOT Middle Earth. Yes, I know, the film “The Hobbit” has spurred a zealous round of tourism promotion, but Middle Earth is a dark, dicey place full of Orcs, Spiders, fairies with ulterior motives and more good and evil than Mel Gibson could summon in a lifetime. New Zealand, not so much. I know because I have visited both Middle Earth and New Zealand. As a grad student way back in “The First Age”, I dissected Tolkien’s Middle Earth in a semiology class. Semiology, along with racing hamsters, is one of the world’s most useless pursuits. It attempts to analyze everything from Shakespearean sonnets to roast chickens by examining every couplet and giblet through the twisty prisms of Freud, Jung and the Marx Brothers (Karl and Groucho). I came to the conclusion that Middle Earth, though green and seductive, was pure infidel-roasting hell.
New Zealand? Hey, I could live there.