Thursday, January 06, 2011

NZ #7 : hobbiton & rotorua

it was a really, really long drive from whitianga down to rotorua. although only about 250km (like from seremban to JB) in distance, the route through hills & valleys on a damp day made the journey longer than it really was. but we did make a stop at mata-mata, just an hour north-west of rotorua, for this...

the shires are under reconstruction for the new movie to be filmed later this year. this is private land & when the owner was asked to leased it to the film company, he was offered to stay anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, till filming was complete. what made this land special is that it has this lake...

**notice the houses are larger on the left & built smaller towards the right.this is to give the effect of dwarf-like hobbits in a large house & humans in a cramped hobbit's home**

.....and a century-old oak tree next to it. remember party tree & party field at the beginning of the 1st episode?

some places were still out-of-bounds as they were being prepared for the new film, so we could only picture frodo's home from a distance.

rotorua is a definite must-see if you only have a few days in the north island. the best authentic cultural performances are said to be here, held on traditional (sacred) maori land. the show started with the MC demonstating how our "hangi" dinner was being cooked...

followed by warriors paddling their "waka" down the river....

then a welcome by the women....

followed by the traditional haka performance - the local battle-cry before combat, seen more often nowadays when the NZ rugby team All-Blacks prepares for competition.

but one attraction that will thrill the kids is the skyline cable car up to Mt Ngongotaha...

then take the luge downhill.....
and back up again by cable car.

yeah, we each went on 3 rides of different levels of slope.

St Faith's Church, by the edge of Lake Rotorua, is the 1st permanent church built in the Rotorua area.

what's unique here is the image of Christ sandblasted on a glass window with the actual lake rotorua as backdrop, giving the impression of God walking on the water!!

ok, rotorua is famous for its geothermal activities as it stands in the crater of an ancient volcano, giving rise to geysers, thermal springs & boiling mud pools. the odour of sulphur can be revolting to sensitive noses.

boiling mudpools

one more stop before departing rotorua is the Huka Falls jetboat ride. the driver definitely knew how to skillfully manipulate the boat as it twists & turns on the river, as well as approaching the waterfalls itself. needless to say, the kids loved it!

there's no doubt in my mind that Rotorua is the one-stop tourist attraction of the North Island. no wonder Rolf Harris had this hit song many years ago, which went like this: 
Hurry hurry hurry home love
Hurry home to Rotorua
To the mountains and the valleys
Hurry home to me
I know I know
You had to go
Please hurry back home love
I miss you so.

no doubt, too, that many people will return one day, including us. this concluded our 12-day vacation.

waiting at the bus-stop in downtown Auckland for the express bus to the airport


Yvonne Foong said...

clap! clap! clap!

LX said...

Awww the hobbits! Didn't even know there is a new film coming up!

ilene said...

Gee DOC you make a good tour guide! so detailed with your description.

The sandblast image of our Lord is indeed magnificient!

Hey, I know that song ... used to sing at campfires during my Girl Guide days.

doc said...


**Doc takes a bow**

doc said...


you're too far away from Middle Earth to be aware!! the movie The Hobbit will be released in Dec 2012.

doc said...


it'll be a big waste if i can't share my experience, so that interested parties may benefit & perhaps not make the same mistakes as i did.

lesson 101: DON'T vacation in NZ if you only have 7 days or less. the plane flight is long & the country is far too large.

"Hurry Home" is a popular scouts/guides campfire song.

ilene said...

Thanks for the tip DOC! I shall bear that in mind.

doc said...


just drop me a line if you need more tips.

Alex Tang said...

I visited Hobbiton about two years ago and my host thought I was mad to want to go there. It was rather rundown at that time. I am glad it is getting a makeover.

I like Rotorua too. Funny many do not remember or know who Rolf Harris is.

LX said...

Hahhaha, Doc, I was there when they premiered the LOTR 3 in Wellington. Red carpet premier.. Hehhe.. now to think of it, that was 7+ years ago!!

Jo said...

Love this post and the many gorgeous pics, esp the old oak tree, and the waka, haka performance! This is one place I'd love to visit! :)

Anonymous said...

Rotorua was one of my fav destinations when I visited NZ many years ago.

Bengbeng said...

i know this Rolf Harris tune. so this is the roturua. what an amazing place to visit. no wonder it was chosen as the backdrop for the film

doc said...


i suppose we were fortunate to visit Hobbiton as they prepare for the new movie.

Rolf Harris was an act from our era, so we can still revel at Waltzing Matilda & Tie Me kangaroo Down, Sport!

doc said...


has it been that long since the last movie? did you post any pictures of that premier?

doc said...


thanks. don't believe it when people say there's not much to see in the north island!!

doc said...

Mei Teng,

Hope you didn't just concentrate on rotorua when in the north island.

doc said...


this just goes to show that you, Alex & i are from the same era.

actually, i think no part of the film was shot in rotorua. check out this website:

LX said...

It was that long. I just finished Form 5, I remember.. digicams were not a very popular thing yet. I still had film camera with me, I think! I don't know where the photos are now. Should dig out!

doc said...


you are most fortunate to be able to vacation in NZ at such a young age!!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Glad you had a great time in New Zealand, Do you think you may live here?

BTW, how did you find my blog? ( I mean did you just surf?)

doc said...


vacationing & actually residing in a foreign country are 2 different issues altogether, but relocating did sound like a great idea.

i dropped by your blog via eugene's bold talk. "auckland" in your title caught my eye.