When I planned my trip to New Zealand I didn’t include any Lord of the Rings (LOTR) locations even though it is probably one of the most popular things to do in the country for tourists. In reality it was a different story – I ended up visiting the Weta Workshop in Wellington and also Hobbiton, the filming location of the hobbit village in LOTR. Hobbiton Movie Set is on the way to Auckland and it is too tempting to not stop for the day.

Tickets need to be booked in advance because they only let smaller groups in at a time. Luckily I am proactive about it. I give myself ample time for commuting since I am driving from Rotorua and I can never trust maps.me to how long it should take.

As usual I arrive early and hang out at the visitors area until it is time for me to catch the coach to the movie set.

We have a tour guide that takes us around. Unfortunately you are not allowed to wander on your own. I guess it makes sense. It is a movie set, not a playground.

The attention to detail is amazing. You really do feel like you are in a hobbit village.

Towards the end of the tour we stop at the Green Dragon pub to try a beer brewed for Hobbiton. It is said the cast and extras were rewarded with beers sometimes after filming.

After our visit we catch the coach back to the visitors center. It is a great visit. The only thing I would have liked to to spend more time relaxing at the pub while overlooking the Hobbit village.

Even though it is my last night with the campervan, I choose to stay the night at a motel. This gives me a chance to organize and re-pack my backpack. I also need to figure out what I am going to do with the extra items I bought for comfort that are impractical for backpacking and impossible to carry.

I finish my evening by walking to dinner down the street at a local pub to get some more green-lipped mussels.

Tomorrow I am off to Auckland and to return the campervan. My visit to New Zealand is almost done.

Heading to Wellington

Today I am crossing over to the North Island of New Zealand.

The transportation mode of choice is the ferry. I still have my campervan so I pay for a special ticket to transfer my car as well.

I arrive very early but it ended up being futile because we wait quite a while until the ferry arrives, in fact it is actually running late today.

Finally the cars are let on. I am directed to park. I am supposed to turn off some sort of security alarm on my van but I can’t figure it out. I hope it goes ok anyway.

I lock up my van and bring some things to occupy me during the ride (3.5 hours). I explore the ferry a bit then find a nice and quiet place to hang out inside for my ride. I do order lunch on board but it isn’t that spectacular to write about.

Once I exit the ferry in Wellington it doesn’t take me long to drive to my hotel for the next couple nights, Capital View Motor Inn Motel. This is a planned hotel stay to break up my van nights (I will have more unplanned hotel stays as you will see later).

The hotel room is decent and has a kitchen which I don’t get to use too much except for breakfast and such. My only concern is parking my campervan. Since the hotel is in the city, I knew to plan in advance for this by asking the hotel if they had a space that would hold my van. They reserved a spot for me but it is very small. Fortunately I am able to get the van in there and squeeze my body out past the brick wall on one side (It would have been much easier if the car on the other side gave me more space). It is stressful but all is well. I don’t plan on moving it the next couple days.

I don’t have much time to settle in since I made a reservation at Weta Workshop this afternoon. I only recently before my trip even learned about Weta Workshop. Weta is the group of artists that craft all kinds of imaginative character renderings – such as Lord of the Rings. One can book a tour to see their facility.

While waiting for my tour to begin I look around the shop.

The tour takes us to a couple different rooms, each talking about another area of design. One has posters from all the movies and shows the group has worked on. The resume is impressive.

Most of the tour did not allow photos but we did come to a section where we were introduced to an artist and his construction methods; we were allowed to take photos in that room.

I ended up booking a second tour, not knowing what the second tour actually was. It ended up being a tour of the Thunderbird’s miniature sets. I have never seen the show but it is very interesting how the sets are designed and filmed.

The set designers use everyday things in the construction of the sets.

After my visit I take an uber back into the main city area to order dinner.

I end up at an outdoor cafe where I get my Haloumi fix once more – Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant.

Green pea falafel patty, shredded cos, Zany Zeus halloumi, beetroot relish, avocado dressing & spring onion

It is still early so I head down to HeyDay Beer Co to try a flight.

Their sample pours seem kind of large. I feel like I am getting a good deal.

After that it is back to the hotel for the evening.