Map of Nth Island nzNth Island nz map
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North Island of New Zealand
Considering New Zealand's diverse characteristics, it is no wonder that Kiwi Peter Jackson in his movie version was the Lord of the Rings Fancy Tricology for Middle-earth. There are several trails that will quench the Lord of the Rings' appetite, but the trip between Auckland and Wellington, which stretches the length of North Island, is perhaps the best way to see much of the state.
The 740 kilometre long itinerary takes you through the actual Hobbiton, Mordor, Bree and some of New Zealand's most varied regions: volcano plains, luxuriant rainforest, rugged peaks, gentle agricultural hillocks, and the biggest lakes in the world. Start your trip in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest town, with a trip to the Auckland Museum (09 309 0443; ), where you can find out more about the country's old tribes and naturopath.
See a Maori culture show taking place every day. Taste the award-winning Coopers Creek Vineyard wine (601 State Hwy. 16, Huapai, Auckland; 09 412 8560; www.cooperscreek.co. nz), where there are also jazzy shows every Sunday from January to Easter. Visit Elephant House (237 Parnell Rd., Parnell, Auckland; 09 309 8740), an artists' co-operative in the historical suburbs of Parnell Village, to buy and see works by literally a hundred Kiwiists.
Near Matamata is the true home of Hobbiton, the grass-covered town where the Hungarians used to live in comfort before embarking on their perilous voyage. Hobbiton on a sightseeing trip (Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours; 101 Arawa St., Matamata; 07 888 9913; www.hobbitontours.com) and see Bag End, the only hobbitloch available to you.
Make a short detour to one of the many geothermic reserves - such as Hell's Gate and Wai Ora Spa (State Highway 30, Tikiterere, Rotorua; 07 345 3151; www.hellsgate.co. nz) - for a view of warm, spitting geysirs and crater of cooking silt. Following a picturesque drive and volcanic observation tour, come and spend some time at Hillside Homestead B&B (99 Tihi Rd., Springfield, Rotorua; 07 347 9337; www.hillsidehomestead.co. nz), where your guide will accompany you with Maori folk tunes and music.
Unwind at the Taupo Hot Springs Spa (Napier Taupo Highway, Taupo; 07 377 6502; www.taupohotsprings.com) on the shores of the lake known for its geothermic pool - try a "wet massage" with biological local bees wax ingredients. Taupo is situated on the north bank of New Zealand's biggest lakeside - with plenty of possibilities for angling, bathing or just a walk along the water.
See Maori folk rocks on a Western Bay boating trip along Lake Taupo. Barbey Creises & Taupo (272 888 853; see www.barbary.co. nz) takes you on a 2. 5-hour sailing trip to the 30-foot (9-metre) petroglyphs in Mine Bay, sculpted in the 70s by wood-carving champion Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell.
Explore the Te Awa Kopiko Culture Centre in Foxton or take part in a workshops to find out more about Maori woodcarving, tattoos or langue. Explore Frodo and his companionship in Otaki, whose indigenous dead arabian woods have been turned into Hobbiton Woods. The Otaki Gorge Rd. was for the Hobbiton highway.
Wellington, the last stop on your itinerary and the country's capitol, was home to the trilogy's line-up and crews for almost three years. A number of travel agencies take you to Lord of the Rings venues, among them Bree and Minas Tirith. Wander the Wellington Waterfront (6 Queens Wharf, Wellington; 04 495 7820; www.wellingtonwaterfront.co. nz) to taste shops, dining, museums and arts centres.
See a stroll through the Karori Sanctuary (31 Waiapu Rd., Karori, Wellington; 04 920 9200; www.sanctuary.org. nz), a nature reserve where endemic wildlife such as small stained kiwis, tua taras and saddlefowl have been set free. nz), a Wellington spook known for his day-to-day life appearances by up-and-coming New Zealand musicans.
Further information can be found on the website of the Ministry of Land Transport at www.ltsa.govt.nz/overseasdrivers/driving-in-nz.html.