Queenstown was beautiful. Yet another location that Pictures can't do it justice. We will share more about our time here in another post.
So, we made it to the North Island ... only 12 hours late. Fill in those blanks with the complexities of standby travel when an airline has to ground part of its fleet for emergency safety checks for possible cracks in the windshield. Needless to say, we are thankful that we managed to make it as early as we did. But leaving Queenstown was some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen from the air. I wish I could have taken pictures of our ascent out of the valley. We had to leave before sunset due to flight regulations in the area (of which we managed to do with 2 minutes to spare). The Mountains were all around us and the Southern Alps seemed to stretch on forever.
Our late departure meant we couldn't make it to our lodging in Rotorua or even pick up our rental car. So we ended up staying in an Auckland hotel near the airport on short notice. To say that the hotel was low budget would be an understatement. But it was an experience we won't soon forget. Well, on to our North Island adventures. After picking up our Rental car, finding breakfast and a craft store that sells yarn we were on our way to Matamata. Outside of this quaint town, is where they filmed the Shire portions of Lord of the Rings and most recently The Hobbit. Filming for The Hobbit just finished this last November. The wonderful thing about that, is that although all of the hobbit holes were dismantled after the LOTR filming, they were all rebuilt to stay for the Hobbit.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail were amazing. It truly was as if we had walked into Middle Earth. Looking back through the pictures we took, I can hardly believe it even now. Everything was so perfect.
Meeting Gollum at the visitor's center
The Hobbit "ghetto" was added for the new Hobbit movies
Micah in front of Sam's house, or should I say Hobbit hole
Bag End (Bilbo's house)
Looking up towards Bag End at the other Hobbit holes
The view of Hobbiton from Bag End
This is where Frodo and Gandalf are riding on the cart into Hobbiton
Looking out over the lake towards the mill and the Green Dragon