New Zealand

Christchurch: A City in Transition

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The devastation of the Christchurch earthquake from 2011 is still impacting the city today. Although significant progress has been made, I was very surprised to see how much work still remained. Despite all of that, Christchurch has made great use of art and innovative ideas to move forward. Here are some of the interesting things to see and do around Christchurch. (more…)

From Christchurch to Queenstown

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The drive from Christchurch to Queenstown along Highway 8 takes around six hours, but if you do it right, it should take much longer. There are some beautiful stops that will make you want to linger as long as you can. An alternate (and longer) route to Queenstown takes you along the coast to Dunedin and down to the southern portions of the south island, but I will be focusing on the Highway 8 route here. (more…)

New Zealand – North Island Tour: Part 1

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The north island of New Zealand is a pleasant mixture of natural beauty and engaging attractions. Most people spend the majority of their New Zealand trip on the south island, but the north island should not be missed. I didn’t get a chance to make it to all of the sights (sorry, Wellington), but the places I did see were worth the visit, and I’d love to return to see some of the other places I missed. (more…)

A Little Too Much Fun in Hobbiton

For anyone that is a Lord of the Rings fan, Hobbiton is probably very high on your list of destinations to see in New Zealand. As you drive through green hills out to the farm where the set is located, it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the filming location. After the Fellowship of the Rings was released, the owners of the farm started giving tours of the set in a minivan. Now, the location is so popular that large buses leave almost every thirty minutes to accommodate all of the visitors. The thing that impressed me the most about my visit was how immersive everything was in Hobbiton. It didn’t feel like a movie studio. It felt like it was a real village. Paths and bridges nicely connect everything in Hobbiton, and there is an incredible attention to detail. Each house has specific clues to indicate the profession of the hobbit that lives there, and various tools and hobbit items can be found along the paths. Just don’t look behind the doors if you want to keep the magic alive. The tour ends at the Green Dragon tavern where you can grab a glass of a special Hobbit-themed brew. I was a little hungry after the tour so I had second breakfast when it was over.

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