Harvest Prep Night Shift – 2018

So, here I am prepping for 2018 Harvest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the middle of March, the end of summer here and absolutely gorgeous. I am situated right in the middle of Marlborough in the quaint little town of Blenheim. I have been here 2 weeks and you can bet I have been to every bar here. I am staying in a house in the centre of town with 7 other boys. Sounds like a smelly headache but these boys are actually super sweet and don’t smell that terrible. There are 2 bathrooms, I only use one for obvious, less smelly reasons and I have a bedroom separate from the hall of rooms the boys currently occupy. It’s just off the kitchen, close for midnight snacks. You instantly feel transported to the mid 70’s as everything is either wood and tacky brass trim with brown or “burnt orange” hideous carpet designs. There is a miscellaneous collection of mismatched couches and well-worn reclining chairs… Home for the next 8 weeks.

Half the house is on days, half the house is on nights. I was rewarded with the night shift. The switchover from days to nights was a tough one. I can now successfully say I can make it through the entire night without crashing, we were pulling 12-hour shifts and they flew by. Getting there was extremely hard and I regularly crashed at around 3 am. The problem with night shifts was sleeping during the day. Being so deprived of the sunlight you craved the attention of the morning sun. Around 7 am, once the sun rose it was like you were instantly revived with all this energy.

Some tips I learned along the way:

Vitamins – Since you are on a weird schedule and don’t get as much sun as normal, some kind of vitamin supplement proved to work great. Specifically, in New Zealand, they have a supplement called Berocca which is very similar to Emergen-C. It is a tablet you add to water and dissolves. Also great for hangovers 😉

Dark – Try and keep your room as dark as possible. Close all windows, blinds and shades and hope for the best.

Fan – While I never actually invested in a fan, I imagine it would be magical. I instead went the cheap alternative and used ice packs or a ziplock bag full of ice cubes to cool down mid-afternoon. That’s some sketchy ass shit, make sure you double bag the zip lock back to avoid waking up wet. However, both options work.

Sleeping Pills – These can be found in a variety of forms. Magnesium works, Melatonin works (although not available in NZ) or even cough and cold medicine for night time. Although I wouldn’t recommend the last one, I did do it and it worked great. Not meant as a long time solution, just the first couple days to knock me out during the day.

Life Cycle – Try to keep the same schedule but at night. So normally, during the day you would wake up say an hour before, have to breakfast. Go to work, come home from work and eat dinner. Hang out, watch tv or something for a few hours before going to bed. Keep that same cycle. If you work 8 pm to 8 pm, go to sleep around 10 am. I promise you won’t crash as hard around 4 am.

While I would also recommend not pulling any all Day’ers/Nighters, you will remember those days or nights you stayed up till 2 pm and then had to work again at 7 30 pm. I know I drank my way through harvest and made many good friends while doing so. In fact, I change my mind. Do engage in such activities. You will only regret it for 24 hours.

Sleep when your dead,


What is Drunkspiration?

It is exactly what it sounds like, inspiration when you are drunk. We have all had it before, halfway through the second bottle of Merlot (or Rose in my case, it’s my kryptonite) and the light bulb goes off in your head. You suddenly feel like a poet, an activist or a Pinterest worthy DIY’er. Reality? Probably not.

However, I do believe that drunk thoughts have some kind of beauty to them. While I drink my way around the world, through wine regions and painfully long airplane rides, I have decided my inspirational thoughts when intoxicated, will be shared with whoever will read them. Perhaps I will speak some truths or perhaps just bring some hilarity to your life. I can tell you right now, the majority of them will probably include my cat and Kyle and some very vague, ominous comments. Once I told my friend Thomas I was somewhere “drunk on the island of New Zealand” when really I was just outside of my house in Blenheim on the sidewalk. Mysterious? Certainly not. Do I find myself funny? Yes. Will I continue to say ominous things when in rather bleak scenarios? Yes.

I’ll drink to that,




The Shire – A Hobbits Tale

Bag End – Bilbo and Frodo’s Home!

I don’t even know how you start a blog post after going to The Shire. I’ll let you know right now, nothing will add up to that experience. THE SHIRE !!!! Kyle and I were both geeking out, my stomach hurt cause I was so freakin’ excited. This was our second day in New Zealand. I know that sounds like a very big title to claim this far into the trip. I am now completely settled in my new home and still, The Shire is a whole different world, literally. Other than a petting zoo I got to feed alpacas, cuddle sheep and play with goats, The Shire is still the best thing I have done here. I tell everyone I went there. Most conversations start like this ” Hi I’m Maddi I went to The Shire” and a lot of people are German or French here and they are like “…okay”. Maybe not the best way to make friends but can you tell I was excited about achieving such things in life?!

So The Shire Movie Set is located in Matamata outside of Rotorua (the place that smells like farts). Here, you travel into some cute rolling farmland filled with sheep. There are 3 different locations to choose a tour. They are all the same tour just provides you with different pickup locations if you are staying in the town of Matamata or Rotorua or you can head right to the base of the tour in the Matamata countryside. We chose to do the actual tour location, we were not staying in Matamata so didn’t matter. The price does vary based on location due to the bus pick up/distance travelled.

Now, we are travelling to The Shire’s home base. No actual Shire can be seen. It actually looks like the beginning of a petting farm or corn maze. There is a picnic area with people scattered everywhere. A gift shop store, ticket store, washrooms and buses everywhere. You park and then have to wait in another line for your actual bus to The Shire. In the gift shop, there is everything LOTR you could ever imagine. Doormats, rings, magnets, coasters, bottle openers, puzzles and a glass cabinet of collectible figurines. Basically, my Mom could never go to the store without spending hundreds of dollars. I can already hear my Dad’s wallet sighing with relief that she most likely will never make it there.  Although, I hear you can get married in The Shire and maybe that’s in my near-ish future.

Entering The Shire

So, after paying $79.00/each, we are given a hand out that includes a map and some fun facts about Hobbiton. This is where my stomach starts to hurt because I am nervous and excited about it. On the bus, I can’t sit still. We travel across the street, onto private property. This is where you meet your tour guide and he starts to give you background information, like how the Alexander family owns over a 1000 acres and 30,000 sheep and Peter Jackson was like “I want this property for the Shire“. You drive through a bunch of curvy roads, they play welcome clips and little bits from the show. Next, he’s parking the bus. This is the real shit right here. We get out, there is a sign pointing in the direction of Hobbiton. Our tour guide painfully asks us to wait and gives you the 1 -2 on the rules and you can’t go here or there and don’t do this and that there is an electric fence around the property to keep the sheep out, don’t touch it. Now we enter Hobbiton. The entire time, the guide is explaining to us different scenes and “remember this, remember that” giving us fun facts about filming and pointing out various locations. Someone’s dream or someone’s hell. Kyle and I were living a dream.

This the pathway from the very opening scene of The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandolf rides into The Shire or the infamous scene where Bilbo decides he wants to go on the adventure with the dwarves in The Hobbit and he’s frantically running through the Shire “I’m going on an adventure!” This is the exit point out and into the Shire.

Facts about Hobbiton:

  • There are 44 Hobbit Holes in total. 5 being extra that they put in for the movie The Hobbit as a “just in case” precaution.

    The “just in case” holes of the Shire

  • Despite being located on a sheep farm, NONE of the sheep made it into the movie. They did not look Middle Earth enough and Peter Jackson imported his own sheep from England.
  • The farm of over 1,000 acres is owned by the Alexander family
  • The original Shire set was torn down after filming for LOTR ceased. They had to rebuild for The Hobbit movies.
  • Some hobbit holes are extremely small, others are extremely large. This was used as a filming technique to show how small the Hobbits were (large holes to make them look small) vs Gandolf (small holes to make him look huge).
  • Gandalf’s double was a whacking 7ft tall.
  • Hobbit doubles were children for obvious size reasons.

    The Plum trees

  • The tree located on top of Bag End, for the LOTR trilogy, was completely real. For The Hobbit trilogy, it was a fake tree made out of metal and painted to look like a real tree and is now a permanent structure of Hobbiton. All the leaves were individually painted and at one point, Peter Jackson did not like the colour of the leaves and cherry pickers were brought in to re-paint all of the leaves to the appropriate colour.
  • The infamous plum trees Hobbits and Hobbit children play around are actually apple and pear trees. The trees were stripped of their fruit and leaves and redesigned to look like plum trees. Why? Because the height of the plum trees looked too big in comparison to the Hobbits.
  • All the Hobbit holes are not decorated on the inside, as much as they went through extensive decorating on the outside. The inside’s are empty holes. All inside shots were shot inside a studio down in Wellington for more control.
  • The scene in the Fellowship where Gandolf was hitting his head in the Shire, that was not in the script and Peter Jackson loved it and put it in the film. Rumour has it Ian Mckellan actually had a minor concussion that day.
  • The Party Tree of Bilbo’s 111th Birthday is alive and well. The party that followed actually consisted of the majority of the filming crew’s friends and family drinking non-alcoholic beer (which they did not know at the time) to create the illusion of a real party. It lasted around 3 days!

Please see my collection of Hobbit holes and photos of the Shire before we get to the Green Dragon Inn for some brews.


The photo collection basically speaks for itself how legit and awesome the set it. All the plants are real, the pumpkins are real (apparently one of the most asked questions). So, now we have completed the Shire/Hobbiton movie set and all that makes up Bag End and alike. This is a fully functional set with full-time gardeners and repairmen/ladies. There are annual growing competitions and more than 300,000 people visit the location every year. Next, we go from Hobbiton to The Green Dragon Inn. This was the resident bar for all Hobbits of Hobbiton and a local hangout place fit with food and beers for all.

The real Green Dragon Inn? The exact same. Here you will find 2 different beers, an ale, porter and a cider and a ginger beer that is non-alcoholic and you will never find them anywhere in the world.

It all tasted delicious, we actually lucked out with getting a second mug of the porter. Kyle sweet talked our tour guide into it, he is good for somethings. The entire atmosphere was incredible, we ate a meat pie to go with our porter and then dressed up as Hobbits because that is exactly what you are supposed to do. Those that don’t take advantage of this opportunity, shame on you. There was another store here, washrooms and just some various random sets you got to explore and walk through leisurely like a blacksmith hut. Depending on how long your tour takes, you get anywhere from half hour to 45 minutes to hang out. The music they place is very Shire-like. Folk dance music. You are literally transported to the Shire and I cannot express how freakin’ amazing it was. If this is on your bucket list, DO IT. Please find attached more photos below and hopefully, you are completely convinced to go live in the Shire for about 3 hours.



S Cuio mae! Q Namarie! (Live well and goodbye in Elvish)

Tenn’ enomentielva (Until we meet again)

Your dirty hobbitses,

Maddi and Kyle