New Zealand consists of a North and South Island. Of the two islands, the South Island is reportedly the prettier one with all its natural beauty. We could have spent all 3 weeks in southern New Zealand, but it would have been a shame not to visit half of the country after spending all that time traveling here. So I cobbled together a few places to visit up north.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and is also the financial hub of the country. The downtown harbor area looks like someone squeezed NYC’s Battery Park City, Financial District, the Seaport, and Santa Barbara’s State Street into a compact area. It almost felt familiar to us.
For the Lord of The Rings fans, a visit to Hobbiton is a must. The Hobbiton Movie set is a 2-hour drive from Auckland. In 1998 Peter Jackson, the director of LOTR, discovered the future film location during an aerial search, and 39 Hobbit Holes were constructed on the rolling green hills of the Alexander Farm. The set has since been maintained by a private New Zealand tour company.
Here are just a few of the Hobbit Holes, which LOTR nerds will appreciate.
Another day trip from Auckland is the Waitomo Glowworm Cave. Unfortunately, all tours were sold out by the time we got there, so we detoured to the Bridal veil falls in Raglan, which is also a 2-hour drive from Auckland. This is a short 10-minute hike/walk through a subtropical forest. Short and sweet, but beautiful.
Sure, we spent most of our time driving to and from locations, but the scenery is bucolic. The rolling green hills are dotted with sheep and cattle, and I have never seen so many sheep in my life. The analogy that comes to mind is sheep in New Zealand is like sauna in Finland, they are ubiquitous.