Thursday: December 22nd …Zealandia, Bays, Beaches and Fellowship.

After a day full of Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit highlights, today would would have a  much different focus. The day started once more with a hearty breakfast, then it was off to Zealandia, the The Karori Sanctuary.

This eco-sanctuary is surrounded by a predator-proof fence and is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds, reptiles and insects in the wild. Nestled in a valley is a dam previously used for Wellington’s water supply and now the centre piece of slopes covered in lush native forest which is the home to a number of New Zealand’s endangered species.

We walked along the tracks through a variety of different environments and enjoyed the presence of peaceful nature. An experience I would recommend to any visitor to Wellington.





Leaving Zealandia we set out to drive along the coastal road along the Eastern side of Oriental Bay and then we followed the road around Evans Bay. The day was sunny and calm with blue skies. Half the population of Wellington seemed to be out enjoying the fine weather and the clear waters.

We arrived at the Chocolate Fish Cafe on Shelly Bay and enjoyed a break and icecream. This was not the original Cafe which was further around the road at Scorching Bay and now called Scorch O Rama. There we had coffee and viewed the sea and the interesting art on the cafe walls.

Chocolate Fish

Harbour views.





The continuing coastal road took us down along the side of the shipping passage which leads into Wellington and we were able to watch the Picton Ferries sailing in and out of the Cook Strait.

The opening to Cook Strait.

The Picton Ferry.

















After passing through the town of Seatoun we came to the coast of the Cook Strait and reached Lyall Bay, where four well known Hobbits learnt to surf. From here we continued a while along the coast and then turned northwards inland and made our way back to Wellington.

Lyall Bay


That evening we met Jack Machiela and other enthusiasts of Tolkien’s world at the Embassy Theatre Cafe. A Fellowship of fourteen devotees was soon formed as we shared our thoughts and knowledge of all things Tolkien.

Jack showed us footage of the Hobbit Trailer,  and the TVNZ News segment  we had appeared in the previous day. A short clip from The Hunt For Gollum was shown by Jack and there was a discussion about this fan movie and Born of Hope. If you haven’t seen these movies, go on line and view them. You will not be disappointed.

A special guest was Todd Rippon who appeared in the movie as the Mumakil Captain who was in charge of the beast that Legolas kills. Todd showed us some exclusive photos from his time on the set, and he autographed a number of photos for those in attendance.

This was an excellent evening when new friendships were cemented for the future.


Clockwise from Jack in the green shirt – Peter Kenny, Todd Rippon, Astrid, Erica, Kristi, Viviane, Sven, Kim, Mervi, and Paul. 


Friday:  December 23rd … Mount Victoria, Te Papa and Departure.

This, our final day, started with an early morning visit to Mount Victoria for views of Wellington and the surrounding beaches and hills. A truly wonderful view from the top.

Next was breakfast near the Museum overlooking Wellington Harbour. After breakfast I headed off to the Te Papa Museum while Astrid went up town to shop. The Museum was an extremely interesting place with displays of New Zealand’s History and Geography. Yes there was a lot about volcanoes and earthquakes.

Te Papa

Mt Ruapehu and Lake Taupo.




Around lunch time we finally made our way to the airport to catch our flight to Australia.


Weta at Wellington Airport

Our sensational and memorable journey had reached its end. On every day of our travels we had found some connection to “The Lord of the Rings”, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

It is time to thank all the wonderful people we met on our travels, with special thanks to Ian Brodie and Jack Machiela.

My dearest thanks go to Astrid, who proved to be a wonderful companion to share interests and knowledge with. Her resourcefulness was second to none and some things I would have missed without her eagerness and enthusiasm. She was a great travelling buddy who shares the same passion as I do for Tolkien’s World and Middle-earth which is New Zealand.

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