“So, uh, do you loooove Lord of the Rings?”
At this point, I had been working in a retail shop specializing in Lord of the Rings tours and merchandise in Queenstown, New Zealand, for the past few months and there’s only so many times one can be asked the same question.
“Oh, yea. It’s like my favorite movie ever. I’ve seen it like 40 times,” I reply.
When I decided to sell everything I owned and move to New Zealand, I never, ever, ever in a million years would have predicted I’d end up working retail in a shop in which the window displays are covered in fake moss and life size cut outs of Gollum and Aragorn.
In fact, up until the day of my interview I’d never even seen the Lord of the Rings. I never read the books. I thought that people who did were dorks. I actually only ever watched the movies to prepare for my interview.
And yet, through a turn of events, I found myself behind the counter of a store that played the soundtrack to the movies, loudly, all damn day.
It started like this:
I was working in a hostel in Dunedin, New Zealand, feeling utterly and completely lost and homesick, and yet reveling in the joy of being able to be completely free, and the maker of my own destiny.
It’s funny how sometimes the intoxication of being in a foreign city seeps into you so that you no longer feel, say–cold, or scared. You just feel alive.
Anyway, I was feeling the pull to move to a new city. I set my sights on Queenstown where I had some friends. I came across a posting on TradeMe, New Zealand’s version of Craigslist, for the LOTR job and I applied, and headed down for an interview.
After a killer interview, I thought I was a shoe-in for the job, but it turned out I didn’t get it. I decided to move to Queenstown anyway, convinced by a girl I met in the Christchurch airport who later became my very good friend.
One day, I was walking past the Lord of the Rings shop when I saw a sign in the window calling for workers. I went in and talked to the girl I interviewed with and she said:
“Yea, it didn’t work with the girl we hired, so we’re re-hiring.”
To which I said: “Well, I’m re-interested!”
The next morning she called and offered me the job.
I tell you this story to illustrate the power of taking a leap of faith. When we jump, the universe catches us.
My job at the shop turned out to be one of the most fun and most amazing jobs I’ve ever had. I got to go on all the off-road and quad bike tours, get my friends on them too, and I got to do almost every “extreme” activity in town for free since I was a frontline worker. Plus, I got paid really well.
That being said, I saw a lot of crazy Shhht. A lot of it, which I will now share with you.
- Die-hard fans who come to New Zealand ONLY to do Lord of the Rings tours and then do them all at least twice so they can try it with different guides.
- Fans who would drop thousands upon thousands of dollars on swords from the movies (granted, swords are pretty sweet)
photo credit: El Bichólogo Errante
- An Asian man who showed up dressed as Gandalf (one of many!)
- Fans who loved to “quiz” me on how well I knew Lord of the Rings (I always failed)
- A girl who wandered around the shop speaking Elvish. Yea, ELVISH. (okay, I didn’t see this, but my amazing boss and co-worker Emma did!)
If you’re a fan of the movie and you’re looking for something fun to do in Queenstown, I totally would recommend doing a LOTR tour. Actually, it’s a really fun activity, one that differs from a lot of more extreme activities in Queenstown like rafting or bungy jumping.
And, if you’re looking for a fun place to people watch, head over to Nomad Safaris Lord of the Rings Shop. Or better yet, apply!