This part of New Zealand we had heard less about so we did a drive through visit rather than a more in depth discovery of the area. You can’t do everything so perhaps I will be able to re-visit this part of the country some time. I hope so anyway! Anyway here are the things that I did manage to do on our way through this time.
Heading back from the Auckland area and through to the south of the big city and into the rolling hills of the countryside. The landscape is forever changing here. We drove straight past Hamilton as we were not too interested in another city so soon after Auckland, and were enjoying the magic of the New Zealand countryside after our experiences in the Northlands. We went straight to the Karangahake Gorge for a little hike to keep the legs ticking over. Every day my fit-bit seems to be having a field day as its goals keep getting higher and higher the longer I am in New Zealand. The daily average steps are at 14,237. That is crazy isn’t it! The walk goes through a 1km tunnel that passes through one of the hills to get to the gorge. We even walked a bit further than the gorge itself towards the historical railway station and to Owhaoa falls. Basically the entire walk we were alone on the trail, which was really nice. The only downfall was that the majority of the walk follows the road, so we did get the noise of the cars passing us by.
As you would expect, this is a true Lord of the Rings fan Mecca. I was even with one, although he tried to keep it under wraps you could see the inner child, wide eyed and jumping up and down at every fact our guide gave us. In contrast I haven’t even seen the films, or read even one of the books. I was behind enemy lines as a true Harry Potter fan. This however was still a highly enjoyable outing, even for me. Our guide who had moved across continents to work there was highly knowledgeable about all things Hobbiton although she was battling to be heard over the swarm of Chinese tourists.
The overall experience of learning about the set up and development of Hobbition as both the tourist attraction and film set was very interesting. The attention to detail that was taken in the production of todays Hobbiton is unbelievable. They would take hours perfecting the colours and material, even putting off filming in order to adjust the set to make sure it was perfect for scenes that many of didn’t make it into the series at all, or just for a few seconds. It was also so fascinating to learn how they set the illusions of scale on scene so that you are convinced that two men that are of similar heights are in fact of extreme differing heights. All with a large range of hobbit holes and their altering scales.
All in all I would say even if you cannot tell your Orcs from your Uruk-hai you will have a wonderful time here. Even if the highlight is going to the Green Dragon for some ale at the end of the tour.