On December 13th 2012 we return to Middle Earth for the first time in almost ten years. Following on from the ambitious Lord of the Rings trilogy which came to a close in 2003, director Peter Jackson has committed Tolkien’s classic tale of The Hobbit to the silver screen. Starting this year Jackson will tell, in three parts, the story of a young Bilbo Baggins and his journey to battle Smaug the dragon for the stolen treasures of the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
In truth, we don’t need to wait for an invitation to visit the fantasy world created by Tolkien and Jackson; a trip to Middle Earth is more accessible than you might think. Like the three Lord of the Rings movies, a huge amount of The Hobbit was filmed in the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand. Since Jackson chose his homeland as the location for the Tolkien films, interest in travel to New Zealand has been on the up, and with the impending release of The Hobbit a new surge has already started.
A cruise from the UK to the picturesque ports of New Zealand is a suitably epic way to visit the land of hobbits, goblins, dwarves and wizards; and there are plenty of cheap cruise options to get you to The Shire in style. Aside from its recent fame as a setting for some of the most striking movies ever made, New Zealand is known for its incredible wildlife and rich culture. Here’s a small selection of some of the ports you could pull into on a trip down but-not-all-the-way under.
Dunedin, one of the many filming locations for The Hobbit, is one of the largest cities on New Zealand’s South Island and a hub of culture and activity. You’ll pull into Port Chalmers, and from there have access to attractions including museums, art galleries, bars and some great clubs around The Octagon. Dunedin prides itself on a range of boutique shopping and local speciality foods, so there is plenty to keep you busy on a stopover in this gorgeous city.
The self-proclaimed Capital of Cool, Wellington is home to the studios in which key sets from The Hobbit were built, including Bag End and Gollum’s cave. Aside from that, Wellington boasts the National Museum of New Zealand, an impressive zoo, excellent shopping and nightlife, and a cable car where you can enjoy the impressive scenery in which the city is nestled. The city prides itself on its Hollywood links, so you can also go on film tours and visit the The Weta Cave where you can check out props and collectibles from films like Lords of the Rings and Heavenly Creatures.
Other stops along the way can include Napier; boasting a gorgeous palm tree lined marina and the oldest vineyards in the country. Napier also has the most concentrated collection of art deco buildings in the world, so it’s a must see stop for fans of this movement. Auckland has beautiful beaches, water sports, a vibrant shopping area and the Auckland Museum where you can learn about the Maori people and the history of the country; so it’s sure to be a favourite stop on any Kiwi cruise.
Gandalf may have his staff, but the real magic of New Zealand is visiting a bustling city full of culture and activity; with an incredible panorama of some of the beautiful landscape on Earth always visible on the horizon. For more information on the film check out www.thehobbit.com, and get planning for your visit to New Zealand.