A Travellerspoint blog

March 2014

A Hobbit's Tale

There and Back Again

Of course traveling through New Zealand is like traveling through the Lord of the Rings set. You might just happen to drive by Mount Doom and through the Misty Mountains on an ordinary day. But, for an extraordinary day, a visit to Hobbiton is in order.

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Though the price is steep and the only way to see it is with a tour, it's well worth it. With the tour you hear a lot about the filming of the movies there and how particular Sir Peter Jackson was with the details. Everything from having the crew tie on leaves to a tree that didn't have the right leaves, to spray painting other leaves when the sun had faded them too much. There are several full time gardeners are there, and during filming one guy's job was keeping the grass at the appropriate height.

The location scouting crew first flew over the property, then stopped by for a closer look. Then they handed the landowners a check, disclosure agreement, and said 'take a holiday'. Jackson had asked the government for money for the movies and though he was denied, they did offer him the New Zealand Army to help him build the road through the farm. The Army was also not allowed to talk about what was happening, so locals were left to wonder why the Army was building a road through a nearby farm. The land was also declared a 'no fly' zone so it wasn't until the first movie actually came out and the locals recognized the landscape, that people realized what had been going on.

The initial deal with the landowners was that the land would be returned to its' original condition when they were done filming. However, New Zealand weather got in the way of that plan, and the structures stayed long enough for people to start stopping by the farm and asking to see them. The landowners realized it might be better to keep the hobbit holes.

Sidenote: how cool would it be to have hobbit holes on your property?!?!

Initially there were only 6 or so hobbit doors, but after the movies became a success and more were to be filmed, the builders came back and turned what was there into permanent structures and added some more, so now there are 44 doors.

Unfortunately the inside filming took place on a set in Wellington so these don't actually go into the earth, but it was still amazing to walk through Hobbiton! I did my best to take pictures of all 44 doors as well, so enjoy!











Bilbo's home:

The Green Dragon:

Ok, I admit it...I want one.

Posted by smr1188 05:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand hobbiton lotr movies roadtrip north_island lord_of_the_rings Comments (2)


A sailing adventure!

What shall we do in Taupo? We wondered as we drove into town. Lake Taupo is roughly the same size as Singapore...if anyone knows how big Singapore is. Upon checking in at the hostel we noticed a sign for discounted sailing adventure on Fearless. Hey, why not?! We crossed our fingers that the weather would be good and we could get a spot on the boat for the following day.


The next day we headed down to the docks and secured our spot on the boat. I knew we'd made the right choice when I saw there were bean bag chairs on deck! If I ever have a sailboat, it'll definitely have bean bag chairs on deck.


We headed out onto the water and set sail. What a gorgeous day.


Our main destination was the Maori rock carvings that could be seen from the water. Though not ancient, they were still very impressive.


There was time for a classic Titanic pose and one person even went swimming!

We also had a nice chat with another American onboard! After sailiing we all hiked over to Huka Falls together.

Posted by smr1188 17:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls culture sailing new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (2)

Kia Ora & Welcome

A night of Maori culture

The town of Rotorua is the place to go for a Maori culture performance. We decided to go to the Mitai Village where we got to take a walk through the native bush. The spring waters were around 40F and surprisingly several feet deep.


We saw warriors in traditional clothing paddle their ancient warrior canoe (waka) own the Wai-o-whiro stream.


Then there was a cultural performance where we heard about the Maori past, culture, carvings, and ta moko (tattoo art). We saw the poi dance and displays of weaponry, followed by the impressive haka dance (war dance/challenge).


The audience, maybe around 400 people, were from 22 different nations. Only one other family was from the US, from New York City actually. More Americans need to travel!!!

Posted by smr1188 16:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged culture new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (0)

Tramping in Hooker Valley

...It may not be what you're thinking.

Before friends and family begin to wonder just what I'm posting here, I'll clarity, in New Zealand hiking is called 'tramping', as you'll see in the pictures. And Hooker Valley, well, it's an awesome valley in the Mount Cook National Park that has gorgeous views of Mount Cook and Hooker Glacier. Add in some swing bridges, and you've got a popular hiking trail.

We tried to get an early start to drive up to the park and beat the crowds, but there was gorgeous landscapes so we stopped several times!

The parking lot was in the valley and we were absolutely surrounded by mountains and snow...how great to see snow!

Now I'm just going to post a lot of pictures, (I didn't do a good job of picking just a few favorites) it was a gorgeous walk in and over the bridges, though VERY windy!

There were icebergs on the lake and shoreline, that was very cool (no pun intended!).


I took a side hike over to the Tasman Glacier, complements of my friend Dennis recommending I check it out, turns out it's not the prettiest of glaciers, but it had great views of the valley.

Driving back after our walk, we drove along Lake Pukaki, another gorgeous lake.

At the end we headed to Lake Tekapo, and yes, the lake is actually that color. There's 'rock flour' sediments suspended in the glacial fed waters that reflect the light and give it that color.

Posted by smr1188 14:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hiking new_zealand roadtrip south_island Comments (2)

9' of Awesome

And add some sea lions, and you've got a great day!

First stop, sea lion beach...


At first there were none, and we had limited time before our next tour, so we were giving up hope and turning back, when all of a sudden we see...


He proceeds up the beach...


To his friend, they say some words like, 'hey wake up!" and "my nose is taller than yours!"


Then they headed back to the water together. How cute!


Then we went to see some Royal Albatross. New Zealand has the only mainland breeding ground for Royal Albatross, and it was amazing to see them and watch them. There were some nests close to the viewing platform (enclosed in glass that had a coating on it so the birds couldn't see us and weren't disturbed). The chicks take up to a year before they're grown and head out on their own, they then spend 3-4 YEARS at sea, basically circumnavigating Antarctic. AND they have a 9' wingspan!


After spending so many years at sea, they return to the Otago Peninsula to find a mate. At this point they're considered "teenagers" and they need to learn how to fly over land now, the air currents are different and you can see them wobble as they fly over the shoreline.


They need wind to take off, so they'll walk to the edge of the cliff before taking off. This couple greeted each other, fixed the nest, then the one that had been out fishing took over the nest watch and the other one headed out to the sea.

What an opportunity to see these birds (and the rare sea lions)! I love New Zealand!

Posted by smr1188 18:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged wildlife new_zealand roadtrip south_island Comments (2)

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