Discover the Wonders of New Zealand’s Hobbit Holes

Journey To The Shire

Hobbiton is a fictional place in the center of Shire. It serves as home to many notable Hobbits such as Frodo Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee. These place along with its characters were encapsulated in the best-selling novels written by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am referring to the novels entitled “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings (LOTR)” trilogy.

The development of the Hobbiton set came about when Peter Jackson ran an aerial search of the best possible locations for the film. He saw the “Alexander Farm” and thought it was perfect.

For those of you who are not familiar with his craft, Peter Jackson is an industry triple treat – a director, screenwriter, and producer.

Peter Jackson and a Hobbit Hole

March 1999 marked the first construction of the site. About 37 Hobbit holes were created with plywood, untreated timber, and polystyrene. The set was rebuilt in 2011 for the sought-after films “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”. Hobbiton ended up with 44 Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon, the Mill, a double-arched bridge, and the Party Tree.

Strict attention to detail was poured to ensure that everything is suited well for the movie. There was this one particular tree with 200,000 leaves on it. Peter Jackson felt that it had the wrong shade of green.

So, a woman was paid to hand paint everything for 10 consecutive days. Can you imagine this? This fact along with other nuggets will be shared during the set tour.

Inside The Renowned Movie Set

The massive and loyal following of Tolkien’s trilogies led to the public’s clamor for visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set. Fans and travellers alike do not want to miss this attraction once they visit New Zealand.

The Hobbiton Movie Set allows you to fully immerse yourself to the wonders of the Hobbit Holes and the entire Shire. It is a once in a lifetime experience that will tantalize your sight, smell, and all your other senses. Your guide is set to escort you to explain how the movie magic was made. Moreover, you will get a chance to fall in love with the Alexander Farm sheeps and with the view of the Kaimai Ranges.

hobbiton set tour

The website‘s attractive description says it all: “You will be taken around the 12-acre set; past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn, where you can sample our exclusive, specially brewed beverages to conclude your own Middle-earth adventure.”

You can choose from the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, the Evening Banquet Tour, the Chinese Tour, and the Private Tour. Admission prices for adults start from NZD 79 while admission for children aged 8 and below are entirely free.

What are you waiting for? Book your tickets, now.

Visitor’s Information

Address: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5:30 PM
Contact Number: +647-888-1505

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Napier’s Art Deco Repertoire

To occupy the curious minds of her children, my mother showered us with the bulky volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica. A significant portion of my day was spent on browsing the monochromatic pages of these informative volumes.

You see, we did not have the luxury of back then. I became familiar with the dynamic wealth of knowledge in various subjects. If you owned one, you probably stumbled upon the intriguing “Art Deco”.

The Art Deco movement began in the Roaring Twenties (1920’s) and was fully developed during the Thirties (1930’s). Its distinct name was derived from the Parisian exhibition entitled “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes”.

The style was first displayed here, in 1925. The style represents modernism transformed into the alluring fashion. Its distinguishing features were geometric ornaments, clean shapes, representational forms, and often expensive materials. It gave off a unique appeal that held a special place in history.

A Rainbow After The Rain

a rainbow after the rain

Napier holds over a hundred of Art Deco buildings in its area. Napier is a coastal city on New Zealand’s North Island. The integration of the historical architecture was initially unintentional.

It all started with one of the most devastating natural disasters in the country – the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. In 1931, Napier was struck by a massive earthquake measuring to 7.8 on the Richter scale. 256 people lost their lives that day and there were a few lucky survivors.

Another glistening silver lining in this circumstance was the opportunity of rebuilding the town from scratch. The Art Deco age offered chrome, neon, and other shiny materials. Downtown Napier was quickly rebuilt using the vibrant and confidence-raising style of Art Deco.

You can see this style in various parts of the world. However, Napier stands out due its concentration of buildings decked in this striking style.

One That Napier Can Trust

one that napier can trust

Art Deco Trust is the organization that leads in preserving, protecting, and restoring Napier’s heritage for a period spanning over 30 years. It arranges the guided walks and bus tours for tourists.

You shall look for them when you come to this part of New Zealand. The price of the guided walks range from NZD 19-21 (about AUD 18-20). While, the vehicular tours range from NZD 45 to NZD 195 (about AUD 42-182).

According to the organization, the city boasts with 147 Art Deco buildings. These buildings were infused with the designs of the Egyptian, Mayan, and Maori culture.

Many of these buildings were repainted to cheery pastels and restored to its historical beauty. The tour showcases the thriving 1938 Municipal Theatre, which has its original neon fittings and original chrome.

The 2017 Tremains Art Deco Festival

Napier’s consistent efforts to annually celebrate the Art Deco Festival is truly admirable. During five magical days, the town seeks to transport you back to this bygone era.

You will get to savor Hawke Bay’s regional specialties in food and beverages, enjoy the soothing Deco music, dance with new friends, and relive the incredible heritage that Napier is proud of.

This year’s event was held from February 15 to 17. Take a peek at the festivities last year!

Exciting Things to Do at the Kaikoura

A remote gem resides on the South Island of New Zealand. It is none other than the town of Kaikoura.

The coastal drive is an adventure in itself and as you get closer to the town, you will get more personal with nature. Savor the calming teal waters, the rich marine habitat, and the stunning mountain views while you are there.

From watching the largest toothed whales in action to climbing the peak of the Mount Fyffe, there are so many things that you can do at Kaikoura. Here are just some of them:

Watch Incredible Whales

whales and other marine life

The largest toothed whales, the Sperm Whales, are the year-round stars of the show. Kaikoura enables its visitors to witness this magnificent creature along with other marine life such as dolphins, seals, and albatross.

Arrange early bookings to get this chance of a lifetime.

Swim With the Dolphins

Freely swimming with the friendly dolphins sounds like a page from a fairytale. Not anymore! Snorkelling with the playful and uncaptured dolphins is one of Kaikoura’s main attractions. Simply hop on the tour boat and prepare yourself to jump in the beautiful water.

Take a Hike

hiking at Kaikoura
Image Credit: Trover

Spectacular views over the Kaikoura peninsula and plains await those who climb up the Mount Fyffe. You have to options: the 8-hour return route and the 5-hour return route. The former begins by following the 4WD road up the mountain’s long south-west ridge. This road leads you directly to the summit. While, the latter can go as far as the Mount Fyffe Hut.

For your safety, check if there are current earthquakes happening in the area as it might affect your hike up.

Eat Fresh Seafood

Eat Fresh Seafood

What is better than experiencing the picturesque seascapes of Kaikoura? Getting to indulge on the town’s fresh seafood of course!

Kaikoura is blessed with an abundance of sea creatures, which can serve as the main ingredient to a hearty meal. Crayfish is the specialty here. If you cannot shell out cash for it, try the other varieties of fresh fish.

Since the ocean is readily accessible to the majority, seafood is relatively cheap.

Appreciate Rich History

Kaikoura Museum

Kaikoura District Museum & Archives is a historical institution situated in this humble town. It houses Maori artifacts, marine fossils, photographs, archives, and more. I cannot deny the fact that I am passionate about art and history. So, seeing these two facets fuse in one place brings in pure delight.

What’s more? The ticket only costs a dollar (NZD 1 = PHP 36) for children and five dollars (NZD 5 = PHP 180) for adults.

Feel free to comment below, if you have anything to add to our exciting list of activities in Kaikoura!

Visitor’s Information

Telephone: +64-3319-5641 or 03-319-5641

A Definitive Guide to Reaching the Bay of Islands

With a whopping total of 144 islands and secluded bays, the Bay of Islands proves to be one of New Zealand’s premier maritime park. A beaming ray of adventure awaits as you travel to the Bay of Islands. You can travel by air, sea, and land to get there.  

For people who want to maximize their time, the smartest option is to travel via plane. Begin by searching for an ideal flight operated by the Air New Zealand. Worry not about breaking the bank as their fares are surprisingly affordable.

It is not uncommon to spot a one-way fare for as low as NZ$69 (about PHP2,490). So, sit back and relax as a passenger of a 40-minute to 3-hour flight from the north of Auckland. Witness the  picturesque views between the Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula while you are up there.

Image Credit: Nacho Libre

Embarking on a deep sea voyage is another viable option! Savor the beauty of the area by boarding a cruise, yacht, or kayak. Boat cruises are popular among the tourists. You can easily choose a boat cruise that suits your preferences.

For instance, an OFW seeking an action-packed tour can discover the services of “Rock Overnight Cruise“. Fun activities such as target shooting, dusk fishing, night kayaking, snorkelling, and island exploring await you at the Rock.

Bay of Islands

Alternatively, you may select a smaller vessel from the Coastal Kayakers. Coastal Kayakers offers tours and rentals. You will be excited about the tour as it takes you on a journey to Waitangi River, Haruru Falls, and other parts of the Bay of Islands. This is a good idea for a first date.

Your options by land include riding the tours or driving your vehicle. There are numerous bus companies that travel from Auckland to the Bay of Islands. For tourists who want to stretch their dollar, this is a more affordable option than flying. Popular tour buses include GreatSights, Mana Bus, Nakedbus, and Stray.

Let us focus on independent driving. Choose to drive around the Tapeka Point to enter a maritime adventure playground of penguins, gannets, whales, and etc. You may also explore the Bay’s subtropical rainforest by foot.

It is important to stress that driving in this part of New Zealand is not an easy task. So, please be safe and remain on the left side of the road.

Bay of Islands
Image Credit: Hayley Newton

All these and more are in store for you, once you arrived in the captivating “Bay of Islands”.

Visitor’s Information

Phone: +64 9 402 7730

Introducing New Zealand’s Iconic Milford Sound

New Zealand’s Milford Sound wears its luster beside the likes of Australia’s Sydney Opera House, London’s Big Ben, and Paris’ Eiffel Tower. It is one of those sights that will immediately insert a lump in your throat and take your breath away!

Located within the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound was initially avoided by European explorers such as James Cook. They overlook the narrow path ahead as it seems to not lead anywhere else. Some of them are frightened to venture too close to the steep mountainsides as the wind conditions can prevent escape.

The Maori people, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, were believed to have discovered the Milford Sound to collect precious pounamu (i.e., jade). They used traditional pathways such as the Milford Track more than 1,000 years ago.

Maori people

Tu-te-raki-whanoa was the divine figure who shaped the Fiordland Coast according to the Maori legend. He carved the towering rock walls with his weapons of choice – a powerful karakia (i.e., prayer) and a trusty te hamo (i.e., adze).

Despite how many years had pass since its discovery, countless visitors are still eager to see the legendary land for themselves. Milford Sound receives approximately 500,000 visitors each year! Some of them arrive by foot using the Milford Track, while others arrive by multitude of bus tours. Worry not about overcrowding as individuals seem to be miniscule compared to the vastness of nature.

Milford Sound is the “poster-boy” of New Zealand’s South Island for significant reasons. People were captivated by its picturesque roads, well-marked trails, and tranquil cruises that interplayed with transparent waters, temperate rainforests, and steep mountains. These are that the things that make the place ideal to hike, sails, bike, paddle, or fly on.


The boat cruises makes you experience the beauty of Milford Sound in the most spectacular way possible. It is my cup of tea! However, you may try diving or kayaking if you are more adventurous. Another exhilarating path to take is the Milford Track. The track starts at the Northern end of the vivid Lake Te Anau. It conclusion leads you to a boat trip from Sandy Point to the Milford Sound quay.

As a friendly suggestion, visit this awe-inspiring spot from March to April as well as December to enjoy the decent weather and fewer crowds. May you treasure your journey to the iconic Milford Sound!