New Zealand is magical, especially when you combine it with Christmas and family.

Steve and I met Jessica in Auckland on December 23rd and toured the North Island together for 10 days. Working our way south, we opted for bed and breakfasts, farm stays and home stays and were rewarded by meeting some interesting and fun folks and enjoying a variety of accommodations.

The Pillars Retreat Homestay

The Pillars Retreat Homestay, Taupo

With Peg at the Panorama B&B, Wellington

With Peg at the Panorama B&B, Wellington

The farm near Wanganui

The farm near Wanganui

From the Hot Water Beach on the Coramandel Peninsula to Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park, from Wellington’s Mt. Victoria to the Cape Palliser lighthouse, the beauty is amazing.

And if you are into extreme sports, New Zealand is the place for you! Steve and Jessica did ‘The Swing’ together, freefalling about 40 meters (131 feet). I took charge of the camera, not sure that my knee, which did well on the trip, was really up for anything more extreme than walking…

Jessica in freefall

Jessica in freefall

60

Woohoo!!!!

Jess rebounding

Jess rebounding

Daredevil Jessica bungy jumped from the same bridge, a mere 80 meters (262 feet) above the river. Yep, my heart stopped. But she survived that and a number of other adventures.

Tolkien fans that we are, visiting a few of the 144 filming locations from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and ‘The Hobbit’ was a must. The most incredible for me was Hobbiton. Located near Matamata, Peter Jackson and his crew transformed a section of sheep farm into a living, growing village with 44 hobbit holes (mostly facades), a community garden growing real fruit and vegetables, and an authentic pub – the Green Dragon Inn, now open to visitors. The attention to detail is astounding, and the colors … well, you’ll just have to visit to fully appreciate Jackson’s genius and the artistry of God.

Are those hobbits? Not exactly, although Jessica qualified at 5'2" for the LOTR movies

Are those hobbits? Not exactly, although Jessica qualified at 5’2″ for the LOTR movies

Bilbo wasn't home, so we visited a neighbor

Bilbo wasn’t home, so we visited a neighbor

‘The Hobbit’ characters could be found almost everywhere – the trolls were terrorizing visitors in Te Papa (Wellington’s amazing interactive museum), and at the airport you could watch Gollum fishing, quite up close and personal. There is even a new postage stamp! (Sadly we couldn’t purchase any – it was a Sunday and the PO was closed.)

William, Bert and Tom at Te Papa Museum

William, Tom and Bert at Te Papa Museum

What a great place to finish reading 'The Fellowship of the Ring'!

What a great place to finish reading ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’!

Even the Post Office had Hobbit fever

Even the Post Office had Hobbit fever

                         You better believe I’m already planning our trip to the South Island!

Advertisements