Four Views of New Zealand is a feature from Issue 12 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.
Stroll the lush green meadows of this fictional land, minus the little people with big hairy feet. This is the genuine set for ‘The Shire’ in the film adaptations of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tour the rolling hills of an ex-sheep farm to see the cute hobbit houses and hear how the magic of Middle Earth came to the silver screen.
This remarkably turquoise lake nestles in the cinematic peaks of the Southern Alps. It gets its intense but milky hue from the fine rock flour (ground by glaciers) in the water. A UNESCO Dark-Sky Reserve, the lake lures stargazers by night. During the day, activities include walking, kayaking, cycling, horseriding, lounging in hot springs, or skiing in winter.
If it rains when you’re here, then you’re lucky – it will only increase the drama. Otherwise known as the Milford Sound, this is the most famous fjord in Fjordland National Park. The inlet is hugged by steep peaks, usually streaked with cascading waterfalls. Kayak it to feel small against the majestic scenery, or dive down to marvel at vivid sea creatures.
It’s a favourite with those escaping the city of Auckland and a scenic mash-up of Cornwall and Hawai’i. Piha is home to a laid-back beach town and its volcanic graphite sand beach is overlooked by rugged cliffs at each end. The water can be treacherous but surf lifesavers patrol for the swimmers and surfers that flock here to take their chances on the waves.