Happy New Year everyone! Due to my current proximity to the International Date Line, I probably started 2014 earlier than any of you, and I started it in a place called Taupo, pretty much smack bang in the middle of New Zealand's North Island.

Tomorrow I will be undertaking the Alpine Crossing, a 7 hour trek through Tongariro National Park aka Mordor. I'm not sure to what extent I will be defying the wisdom of Boromir - certainly I will be walking through it, but I'm getting a shuttle bus to the start of the trail so I don't know if I can really be said to be simply walking in... Fortunately there will be another bus waiting at the other end, so I won't need to trouble the eagles for a ride.

You probably think I'm going a bit hard on the Lord of the Rings references there, but trust me - nowhere near as hard as New Zealand does at times. This started with the safety video on my Air New Zealand flight. As the opening jingle played over the logo, my train of thought went: "Hmm, this music is vaguely reminiscent of the LOTR films, I wonder if that's a coincidence, or...oh, wait, all of the airline staff in this video are dressed as elves and dwarves and shit." On arrival, I found that tour operators and hostels have a tendency to use a certain font in their signage, and it's not Comic Sans.

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