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An incredible journey

Updated on October 8, 2016

An Incredible journey

It's summertime in the places where most of the people reading these hubs are based and everyone is thinking of heading off on holiday, or at least hoping to anyway so even though it's the depths of winter down here in New Zealand I thought I'd take te time to tell you a little about a holiday that our family took recently.

Only a short trip in miles (or Kilometers as we use here) but in some ways it was like being transported between worlds as we got to do some things that we'd wanted to do for years.

In April of this year I had a week off and we headed for a place we'd wanted to go visit for a couple of years, we went down to Wellington.

New Zealand doesn't have a big population, but don't let that fool you, it's a pretty big place in a lot of ways, three large Islands surrounded by thousands of smaller ones that can't be more different to each other. In this hub I'm going to take a look at the route between the two main cities and what a traveler might encounter on the way between the two

Imagine as you board the plane you watch this video!

Welcome to the 'City of Sails'

Auckland is the 'City of sails' and this is one of the best things to do there, Sailing a real Americas cup boat
Auckland is the 'City of sails' and this is one of the best things to do there, Sailing a real Americas cup boat | Source

'Welcome to Middle Earth'

Believe it or not that sign used to hang in the main entrance as you came out of the arrivals terminal at Auckland International airport, and it was flanked by ten foot tall statues of the Dwarves from 'The Hobbit'. They've taken most of the dwarves away now but I think there's still one standing guard, we're kind of proud that you're walking into one of the biggest movie sets ever thought up!

Okay originally i had no intention of putting that video in but having watched I just HAD to!!!

By the way this hub is also a bit for those of us who might be struggling to afford a holiday this year, my hope is this hub will take you away to a favorite place for a few moments, so strap in and hold on as we take a look around.


With just over one and a half million people it's not a huge city on the international scale of things, but it's our biggest city, and it's the one you'd fly into if you were coming.

Twelve hours from Los Angeles, eight hours from Hawaii and three hours from Sydney it's a long flight, but don't run away just yet.

Truth is that Auckland is a great place to visit (don't tell any Aucklanders I said that though! their heads will swell!) It's the place where if New Zealand has something to celebrate (like the Rugby world cup or the Americas Cup) you'll find it in Auckland, and that's our first destination.

Just a few places to see

Auckland airport:
Auckland Airport (AKL) Ray Emery Dr, Auckland Airport, Auckland 2022, New Zealand

get directions

Your arrival point

Queen Street, Aucland:
Queen St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand

get directions

Anyone want to race an Americas cup boat? How about a bungy jump off the Sky Tower?

Hamilton, New Zealand:
Hamilton, New Zealand

get directions

Okay, I live here!

Hobbiton, Matamata:
Hobbiton (Matamata), Waikato 3400, New Zealand

get directions

Visit the actual film set, enjoy a good Beer in the 'Green Dragon' just like Bilbo and Frodo

Lake Taupo:
Lake Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand

get directions

The biggest volcano on the Earth,

Wellington. New Zealand:
Wellington, 6011, New Zealand

get directions

Weta workshops, Te Papa museum and so much more

Taking the trip

We often go up to Auckland so this time our trip didn't start there, but it didn't seem right to start the trip half way through the country without at least an intro to what folks will see at the start of the journey.

You could easily spend a week or so in Auckland and have a great time, but if you want to see the 'real country' you'll need to travel a little ways, by the way 'Lord of the Rings' isn't the only movie made here, anyone like "The chronicles of Narnia?' those movies were filmed just outside Auckland and especially the Coromandel peninsular just east of Auckland where 'Prince Caspian' and 'Voyage of the Dawn Trader' were filmed.

About an hour and a half out of Auckland down State Highway 1 you'll find me and the city of Hamilton, not a big place but a friendly welcome will be had by all. most tourists just 'blast through Hamilton on their way to stuff like Hobbiton and the Waitomo caves, not realizing what they missing

Some friends got a nice surprise

An unusual trip

A couple of years ago we had some American friends come out for a visit. They were coming to a conference in Queenstown in the South Island but wanted to do some sightseeing in the North so they planned to fly into Auckland, they were fans of the Movies and at the time 'The Desolation of Smaug was just coming out in theaters. Imagine the shock when they looked at the plane and it was called 'Smaug' complete with the painting of the Dragon (I'm not sure they got the safety video we saw earlier!) They were totally blown away!

Actually that was pretty cool as they both played 'Gridiron' and as such they really appreciated the finer technical points of our national game Rugby, the two are very similar except no padding is worn in Rugby and the ball can only be passed backwards (but you can have as many passes as you need to, as long as it goes backwards)

They wanted to do all the stuff to do with Lord of the Rings but were a bit unsure of driving on the left, so we offered them that Jodie would take them provided they paid for things, it worked a treat and a great time was had by all except yours truly who had to stay behind to work!

Ah well, such is life!

What those who skip Hamilton miss

An awesome river walk near our home
An awesome river walk near our home | Source
Hamilton Gardens is free and has an international reputation. It has one of only four 'Tudor Gardens' in the world
Hamilton Gardens is free and has an international reputation. It has one of only four 'Tudor Gardens' in the world | Source

Hamilton Gardens

'The Shire' a real place

'The Shire' is a real place

Situated just outside Matamata an hours drive from Hamilton is the place that was used for the movie set.

It was interesting that the place was a farmers land and apparently when he was approached for he first movie he simply said "Okay, as long as you return the site to the way you found it"

It took them a year to prepare the holes and allow the grass to grow over the top of them before the filming began, but the film crew were good as their word and although they left the holes in (the farmer agreed to that) they left everything the way it had been.

What no one counted on was thousands of people every week turning up at the farm gate wanting to see the 'real Hobbiton' so slowly the farmer began restoring the Hobbit holes.

When they approached him for filming 'The Hobbit' the conditions was "This time leave the props" and a new and pretty unique theme park was born, not one with fancy rides but a real escape into a Fantastic land! the world of the Hobbits!

'Mount Doom'

A little further down the land you get a big reminder that New Zealand is right on the 'Rim of Fire' the ring around the Pacific where most of the world's volcanoes sit, by the way did you know that they actually used an active Volcano for 'Mount Doom?'

In the middle of the North Island are four mountains that are all active volcanoes! three are not the spectacular kind but the most active one erupts every ten years or so. The one they used for the Movie was Mount Tongariro that erupts every hundred or so years, and can be pretty big but not world news, it last erupted in 2012

The last one is Lake Taupo and you really don't want that one to go off! It last erupted in the second century AD and it's believed to have been so violent it was recorded by both the Chinese and the Romans.

If it ever goes off, you'll know about it!

Three of the four 'bad boys'

Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe. and Tongariro all in a line. Three 'cones' part of the same complex
Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe. and Tongariro all in a line. Three 'cones' part of the same complex | Source

That's all for now folks

Man, I wanted to tell you about our trip to Wellington, but thought I should show a bit of the other places first, then got to 'rambling' again. Oh well, Wellington will have to wait for now. Still, I hope you've enjoyed this little 'trip' we took.

Speaking of journeys, why not join me on my blog post as we explore the journey towards achieving our dreams.




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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      21 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you liked the article, this area of the country wasn't too affected by the Earthquake, but further south, around Wellington and down as far as Christchurch was.

      So far there have been around 2,000 'aftershocks'.



    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 

      21 months ago from California

      Great article and fabulous pictures. I really enjoyed it Thanks for the share.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 

      22 months ago from California

      Great article and beautiful pictures. Thanks

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed it.


    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 

      23 months ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thanks for your visit/your hubs look great!! (You viewed my hub on PTSD}

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      So true, and we love it here! Glad you could join us with this. This was actually based around the trip the family took a few months back, but as I started writing it kind of expanded if you know what I mean!


    • profile image

      Kevin Buckley 

      23 months ago

      Thank you Lawrence. NZ is a truely wonderful have just started. Keep it up.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      So now, if you ever 'make it's you'll have some idea of what to go see, mind you I didn't cover the Kiwi house in Otorhonga or the 'inland Island' at Maungatautri. Those are two places where you can see what New Zealand was like before Humans arrived.

      Glad you enjoyed the hub.


    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I really enjoyed this, as I have never been to New Zealand. Now I know a little about the highlights.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      That was a motivator behind these two hubs. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as it's amazing.

      Personally I think when God created the earth he left New Zealand until last as he really wanted to have fun.



    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Lawrence,

      Thank you for taking us along on your trip to New Zealand. I'm so jealous that I will probably never get to travel there in person, but I can via your hubs! I do hope to one day travel to places I've never been before. So many interesting and beautiful places to see and people to meet.

      Blessings always

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      So do I. I'm convinced that when God made the earth he left New Zealand until last so he could enjoy himself doing it!

      This trip is through the 'North Island' that's often 'overshadowed' by the South Island and the Southern Alps/Fjordland which I've only been to once but it's so amazing!

      Who knows, I might even include a couple of the other regions.



    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great article. I just love it that our world is so filled with such wonder. Thanks for taking me to a place I have only dreamed of.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thanks for the visit. There's a 'part 2' that I'll probably write later today where we did some amazing stuff so 'stay tuned' and enjoy it 'by proxy'

      Have a good weekend


    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for taking me along, Lawrence. it was a lot of fun, and the scenery was beautiful Unfortunately, I'm one of the ones that are only hoping to get away. This will hold me over until I can finally get away. Thank you.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad I could be of assistance.


    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I just wanted to show a little of this amazing place.

      Glad you enjoyed the journey.


    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 years ago from United Kingdom

      This was a wonderful introduction to New Zealand. Thank you for being our tour guide.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thanks for the visit. I just wanted to share a little about New Zealand. I actually wanted to write a bit about our trip to Wellington but realized there was so much more to tell.

      Maybe I'll finish the 'travelogue' off next week.

      Glad you enjoyed it.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much for showing me a place I'll never see in person. I totally enjoyed this travelogue. :)

    • srsddn profile image


      2 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Nicely described, Lawrence! It must be interesting to visit place of the fame of Lord of the Rings and also the volcano sites. Thanks for sharing.


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