The annual journey to the lands of elves, dwarves, orcs and hobbits is upon us once again. What would Christmas be without it – and what will we do once it’s all over?
Well, you could go and see it for yourself. Middle Earth (AKA New Zealand) has it all and not just hobbits either. You’ll find the land behind the wardrobe here, from the 2005 movie “The Chronicles of Narnia” as well as the famous beach from “The Piano”, the dark Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel movie from 1993. If you’re an ape fan, then Auckland and Wellington also boast scenes from the 2005 remake of King Kong – the link between that and the Tolkien film series being Andy Serkis as the ape and Peter Jackson the director.
If you arrive in Auckland, head west to Karekare (pr. carry-carry) beach – where the piano itself floundered in the surf - while a little way up the coast is Woodhill forest, where The White Witch made her camp in Narnia. It’s actually a popular mountain-biking venue, so hire two-wheels and explore it properly. In Auckland itself you’ll find Monte Cecilia House in the suburb of Hillsborough, where the Narnian children holidayed and in the city centre is the beautiful Civic Theatre, restored to its 1920’s gaudy splendour. King Kong rampaged through this New York Theatre stand-in – although thankfully movie magic protected its stunning interior.
The Coromandel Peninsula is the setting for Cathedral Cove – a stunning rock arch over a white-sand beach. The set for the ruins of the castle Cair Paravel was built on the Hereherataura (pr. hair-ee-hair-ah-towra) Peninsula, overlooking this unreal cove. The peninsula is well worth visiting – virtually uninhabited and covered in lush bush and forest with some awesome coastal scenery.
Further south and inland again is Hobbiton near Matamata. The original film-set was left for the benefit of tourists to get a flavour of the movie and possibly down a beer at the Green Dragon pub while they’re there.
Lonely Mountain, or the entrance at least, can be found in Turoa, a ski field on the side of Mt. Ruapehu in the centre of the north island. Ruapehu was the volcano that erupted twice in the mid-nineties with such force that it caused some European TV channels to report that New Zealand itself had exploded. It hadn’t.
One of Ruapehu’s sister volcanic mounts in Tongariro NP, Mt. Ngauruhoe, (pr. now-roo-hoe-eh) featured as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings – its conical perfection made it the obvious choice as the forge of the One Ring.
Another magical destination for you on your north island exploration are the caves at Waitomo. Millions of glow-worms transform an otherwise vaguely interesting underground setting into an enchanted cathedral worthy of any Tolkienesque narrative.
The south island is where much of the dramatic outdoor scenery for the Hobbit and LOTR movies can be found; lakes, mountains, vast plains and glaciers are liberally sprinkled across this land. However, you can also find Aslan’s camp in North Otago’s Elephant Rocks and Flock Hill Station in North Canterbury was the setting for the dramatic final battle between Aslan’s forces and the army of the White Witch.
Back to The Hobbit, the setting for the story’s Laketown, is on Lake Pukaki. This glacial lake is smack-bang in the middle of the island, with soaring views of the country’s tallest peak, Mount Cook which was itself a star in many aerial shots. In the south though there are few areas that weren’t used in the filming of the two trilogies: Queenstown, Nelson, Wanaka, Twizel and the Fiordland NP all featured – and it’s all stunning.
Try our Northern Discovery tour whichgives you the chance to explore the mellower but warmer of the two islands, from Auckland’s bright lights all the way down to Wellington, The Windy City.
Alternatively the Middle Earth Hobbiton Adventure tour provides an all-encompassing exploration of New Zealand’s Middle Earth, from Auckland to Queenstown and finishing in Christchurch.
Bike & Hike South Island tour. Don’t be fooled by the title. Whilst there are plenty of opportunities to get physical with nature on this trip, much of it will be from the comfort of your car.
If life on the road appeals and you want to take in as many film sets as possible on your own timetable then DialAFlight also offers a 14-night Maui Platinum motorhome holiday from £1175pp in state-of-the-art vehicles designed for families. Call us on 0844-251-0151 for more information and to book this amazing holidays.
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