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Nov
23

Join the World in New Zealand Mania

hobbit craze

hobbit craze

Yes, everyone is feeling the hobbit craze over here in LA. Gigantic posters of the small people and big-bearded wizards surrounded by the beauty of a magical place, line Sunset Blvd, announcing the arrival of the Hobbits on December 14. But we know that the faraway land isn’t a fictional a CGI land, it’s actually Peter Jackson’s New Zealand, a land so lush, so diverse, it can feel like you’re visiting a studio rather than a place.

Mount Tongariro erupts

Mount Tongariro erupts

Take the massive spewing volcano Tongariro, for example. It stands alongside the peak that featured as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings, and just erupted for five minutes on November 21, sending a plume of ash and gas more than a mile into the air.

Tongariro is one of three active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, which were used as a backdrop for the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy.

New-Zealand-landscape

New-Zealand-landscape

For a land that’s only a fraction larger than the United Kingdom, it is unequalled for its variety in climate and landscapes and lends itself perfectly to Middle-earth. Be it the luscious emerald green sweeping countryside of The Shire, the barren volcanic terrain used for Mordor, the mountainous alpine regions where Edoras was filmed or the vast glacial range that became the Misty Mountains, it’s as though New Zealand was lifted straight from the pages of the books.

And I’m not exaggerating. If you or your children really want to feel like you’re in the movie, all you need is to two is take a scenic two-hour drive south of Auckland to a place called Hobbiton – the same Hobbiton you see on screen and the same Hobbiton in the  books.

Hobbiton movie set and farm

Hobbiton movie set and farm

The buildings at Hobbiton, set in the unspoiled rolling countryside on the Alexander family farm on the outskirts of Matamata, were created 10 years ago for the filming of the Lord of the Rings but were then ramped up and made even more specific for the filming of The Hobbit trilogy.

The Hobbit homeland is set within 10 acres of gorgeous, pristine, green countryside, and the cute little gates are now open, so everyone can take part of this magical place. You can walk around, touch it, smell it and roll in the grass. This is no ordinary film set, it’s real, and you don’t even have to be a fan of the Hobbit films to see its appeal.

the villages

the villages

The New Zealanders also make this place so much fun to visit. They are warm and kind, not intrusive, but not stand-offish either. They adore the outdoors and yet love fine food and hotels as you can see by the incredible proliferation of wineries, organic restaurants and fine hotels.

There are lots of fantastic places in which to eat in New Zealand, too, but the Chocolate Fish Café in Shelly Bay, a 10-minute drive south along the coast road out of Wellington, seems to say it all.

chocolate fish cafe

chocolate fish cafe

Here’s where you go for a great selection of fresh barbecued seafood plucked from its isolated streams and when you’re done with that bungee-jump off a bridge, ride a jet boat down a river, sunbathe on its beautiful beaches  (it’s summer here you know!) or head for a long hike along its vibrant green mountains.

NewZealand

NewZealand

This is one of the adventure capitals of the world so take advantage of it all. Play all day, then dine on the superb food and wash it all down with a glass or two of the perfect wine.

Do it all – because here you really can. And we’ve got lots of cheap tickets to Auckland.

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