Hey fellow travel lovers!
My previous posts can be read here:
- TNL Travels – Sydney, NSW, Australia
- TNL Travels – Beach bummin’ it around Sydney!
- TNL Travels – South Island, New Zealand
- TNL Travels – Living la vida Hostel
I actually split my time in Auckland in two, so to speak. When I first arrived I met up with a friend who took me around on a mini tour of the city before my connecting flight to Sydney to meet Sidney (I told you that would never get old) later that day.
Speaking of this friend… Remember when the internet was new and chat rooms were the thing to do instead of studying for exams…? Oh… that wasn’t just me, was it?!? Anyway, I had made a few friends on the internet and she and I have kept in touch ever since. It was great to actually be able to meet her! Not only did we meet face to face for the first time, but she was the perfect tour guide with a wealth of knowledge on Auckland’s history. The Maori culture is so rich and ever-present, and I loved every bit of it.
So after breakfast, we headed to One Tree Hill where I got the most amazing view of the city. The tree has since been removed, but the name will remain. Good idea, because “No Tree Hill” just sounds odd. Might as well just call it… well… “Hill”. Silly, right?
Afterwards, we drove to Mission Bay where many were enjoying the “winter” weather by the water.
Then we went to Michael Joseph Savage Memorial where I learned about one of New Zealand’s most popular and loved Prime Ministers. It was also a great tourist attraction with another view of the .
When we returned to Auckland from the South Island, I had only a few days to do as much as I could before I left. Now… I couldn’t go ALL the way to New Zealand, and not go to Hobbiton, right? Ah, I’m glad you agree. What kind of LOTR fan would I be if I committed such a crime? So we hopped on yet another bus and journeyed to Matamata (we absolutely love that name) and waited for yet another bus that took us to Hobbiton. This long wait gave us the opportunity to snap pictures. Naturally, the i-site tourism office was designed to look like part of the Shire, complete with a statue of Gollum inside.
Once we got there, we had to take another bus (tour bus) in to Hobbiton to go on the tour. I was all bused out. But OH EM GEE we had made it!
If you do not know the story of how Hobbiton came to be, here is a synopsis: when LOTR director Peter Jackson was looking for somewhere to film the trilogy, his wife suggested New Zealand as she’d loved it when she vacationed there. He then found the Alexander farm fell in love with it. Once the Alexander men (who still own and work on the farm to date) agreed, he started construction – which even involved the New Zealand army. If you’ve seen the movies, you’d see that a lot of work went into it. Even the oak tree at Bag End was constructed out of imported parts. Yep – that big ole tree is fake.
Our tour guide - whose name was Sam and admits he responds to Samwise haha – was very thorough which made the trip feel even more fulfilled. There were a few other groups so he ensured to be concise with his instructions, kept our group together and gave us enough time to take the necessary katrillion pictures. I will try not to post all of them – no promises!
The Baggins home was off-limits as there could be a possibility that production returns to refilm something.
Samwise informed us that the beers are made especially for Hobbiton and transported in daily. The selections included: a traditional English Ale (3.8%), an amber ale (3.8%) and an apple cider (5%). I went with the English Ale.
Samwise had told us at the beginning that some superfans had returned up to 10 times, and though extensive I can see why. Hobbiton was a glorious experience.
At the gift shop in Matamata, I wanted to purchase one of the necklaces with the Maori symbol, but my friend refused to let me buy it myself saying she heard it was bad luck and bought it for me. Some of the symbols are:
Koru (spiral) – depicts new beginnings growth and harmony
- Hei Matau (Fish Hook) – prosperity, good health, strength & determination;safe passage over water.
- Twists – bonding of special friendship or relationship
- Manaia – sky, earth and sea, and balance between them
- Toki – symbolizes strength and courage
For your visualizing pleasure, I took a picture of the descriptions I picked up at the Jade Factory:
I got the fish hook! The designs are always different (I didn’t get the symbol in jade), but the meanings will always be the same.
The next day we went to Mount Eden, and I really should have paid attention to the “Mount” part. I eventually lost my excitement as I was out of breath – oh but not from the beautiful view but from the walk to the summit. Yes – I used the word “summit”. Phew! It was all worth it though when we reached the top.
On my last day, it was only fitting that I spent some time walking around Auckland. I was going to miss being in this beautiful (and clean!) city. And to think this was wintertime; summertime must be beyond beautiful.
As you can tell from this and the previous posts, I had a wonderful time in both Australia and New Zealand. I would love to one day return and stay longer so I could see even more. If you’ve been thinking about going – it is SO worth it.