Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Ring Brings in the Tourists; Surrender to the Powerful Magic of New Zealand

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Ring Brings in the Tourists; Surrender to the Powerful Magic of New Zealand

Article excerpt

Byline: WORDS Seanna Cronin

IF YOU think Hobbit-related travel in New Zealand involves gluing elf ears on your head and camping outside of Sir Peter Jacksonas house for an autograph, then think again.

A visit to the middle of Middle-earth is actually a much more sophisticated affair, where you can enjoy smoked salmon, local cheeses and a glass of Middle Earth sauv blanc or rose while sailing along the Nelson waterfront.

Or you can kayak in the blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park and then walk through the stunning stalactites of Ngarua Caves.

Thereas also the high-flying action of the Happy Valley Sky Wire, where you can glide over 1.6km of ancient forest on the worldas longest flying fox.

The record-breaking box office release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has renewed international interest in New Zealand tourism.

Just like director Peter Jacksonas Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit is expected to inspire thousands of holiday-makers to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Wellington, on the southern tip of the North Island, is ground zero for Hobbit and LOTR fans. The windy city has embraced its title of Middle-earth, with everything from a giant Gollum art installation at the airport to movie tours led by extras from LOTR.

While Peter Jackson filmed at dozens of locations, he was careful to leave the environment as he found it.

Only one site has been preserved in its fully decorated form. Hobbiton, the picturesque heart of the Shire and home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, was largely deconstructed after the Lord of the Rings filming. But since being restored and expanded for The Hobbit films, the site has been preserved as a tourist attraction.

Located at Matamata, near Rotorua, Hobbiton is a short drive from Auckland, or a short plane flight from Wellington.

While at other filming locations you must use your imagination to visualize where buildings and armies of orcs once stood, Hobbiton immediately transports you into the hobbit world.

Its lush gardens are full of impossibly bright colours. Arriving on a sunny day, I feel like Iave been dropped into a bucket of neon green paint. …

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