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LOTR Fans Mitch and Julian’s RV adventure through New Zealand

by Julian Cheek | Jan 17, 2015

If one was to consider a place to go to for one’s Honeymoon, New Zealand would not be a bad place to start with. And so it was for us, as we considered, back in March, where we might want to go on holiday to celebrate our Wedding. It has always been a yearning for both of us to go and experience the real New Zealand. Neither of us had been there before but we had only heard positive things about this island that, although small in size, punched well above its weight in terms of tourist appeal. The fact that we are both avid Lord of the Rings fans (LOTR) certainly contributed to us settling quite quickly on an extended holiday in New Zealand and starting to make enquiries about the various aspects that go into a holiday of a lifetime.

To that end, we must thank Wilderness Motorhomes for their amazing professional and helpful approach and staff outlook on life. We had decided quite early on that we wanted to be as free as possible in our route decisions and did not want to get tied down to having to book a lot of different hotels along the route and then be fixed to having to be there at a certain time and for a certain period, and then having to unpack and re-pack every time we were about to move on to the next place. A Recreational Vehicle, therefore (RV) seemed to be the perfect solution where, like a snail, you take your house with you and stop where you want and stay for as long as you want.

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After much research into the various companies, it quickly became evident that Wilderness, whilst not the cheapest on the market, were certainly way above the rest in terms of helpful information and responding to our many questions.

This mini house on wheels was absolutely perfect for our needs and I can honestly say that, apart from not having an on-board bath, which would have been paradise, the ride was comfortable, the roads were fantastic and the journey through both islands was so captivating that for the first time in 50 years, we felt compelled to capture our adventures in a blog, (

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Almost 5 weeks in an RV, travelling over 3500 kilometres and taking over 4500 photographs (Yes, it is possible!), we wanted to capture our experience (both likes and dislikes) in a form that others could hopefully benefit from and be inspired by. This précis is, in effect, a pre-cursor to our blog and we trust you may all find some enjoyment in the writing, the photography and indeed the experience. (And if we convert you to becoming avid Hobbit fans, then you can thank Peter Jackson!)

motorhome, rent, holidays, travel,

We had planned our route in principle, starting from Auckland then travelling north up the west coast to see our first “sight”, the famous “Tane Mahuta”, one of, if not, THE oldest trees in New Zealand and one revered by the Maori folk and local populace. The tree is not staged in any way and is unpretentious in outlook, but its pure energy and status held us in a state of tranquillity whilst we were there. Another blessing whilst there, was having the benefit of some local Maori women coming up to the tree and holding a mini ceremony in front of it. No cameras, no stage show. Just a few people communing with their spirit guides.

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Tane Mahuta gave way to Cape Reinga, the furthest place north on the North Island, via what must be the largest sand-dunes in the world at Te Paki. Both places were amazing in their own way. The Te Paki sand dunes just went on for ever and at Cape Reinga, the crashing of the Tasman sea into the Pacific Ocean and the resultant waves, disappeared off into the distance. It is here, at Cape Reinga, that the Maori folk believe their spirits come before departing off into the after-life.

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The Bay of Islands with their beautiful dolphins was next, travelling now down the East coast. So many little islands dotted about. And the sky was so BIG. Russell was a delightful small town and well worth the visit. We then stopped at one of the ”mystery places”. A place not well known. The Mermaid Pools in Matapouri can only be accessed at low tides but the colours in the pools are so bright and clear and enticing, you can well believe that Mermaids may well have come here to bathe.

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The East Coast gave way to Coromandel Peninsula and arguably the best coffee shop in New Zealand, The Pour House, in Hahei Bay before being blown away with the beauty which is Cathedral Cove. 

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A short mountain hop up the Pinnacle later, it was then off to our Mecca in NZ, Hobbiton. The home of the Hobbit and the scene of so many adventures captured by Tolkein and replayed expertly through the LOTR franchise. Actually, I did not find the place to be a tourist trap at all.

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Lake Rotorua was not pleasant due to its smell of sulphur but shortly afterwards we did the Tongariro crossing just below Lake Taupo which was amazing. Well worth the journey if you are mad, keen to walk up slippery slopes but end the day with a huge grin on your face and sleep in your eyes.

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The second half of our journey was exploring the South Island and we think, of the two islands, for us, this was by far the most beautiful. Mountain ranges that went on for ever, lakes of so many colours we were lost for adjectives, a night sky at Mt. John Observatory, that had us speechless and Mount Cook, as an awesome. majestic bastion.

Of course, being sniffed at by wild baby seals to the north of Kaikoura, seeing over a thousand bras fixed to a fence on the Crown Range Road on the way down to Queenstown, Milford Sound, killer Kea birds, more LOTR sights than one can shake a stick at and finally, Lake Hawea just above Lake Wanaka, which simply had us in tears through its shear beauty, were all elements that, had it not been for our commitments back in the UK, we would have gladly hung our togs up and tried to settle in a land that welcomed us fully, treated us like royalty and was, quite simply, sublime.

The full day by day story of our road trip can be found in the following EPIC blog!

  • Planning your Motorhome Road Trip
  • NZ Travel Tips
  • LOTR road trip
  • Coromandel
  • Bay of Islands

1 Comment

  1. 1 Saskia van der Kolk-Stevenhagen 20 Mar
    Lovely to read about your trip.
    We've been there aswell, travelled 7500 km in 5 weeks.
    Never seen such a beautifull coutry ; nice people, breathless views and nature.
    I hope we can go there again ( unfortunately it's a 24 hour flight from Holland ) 
    Kind regards,


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