Hobbiton: In the footsteps of Bilbo and Frodo

New Zealand tugs captains are doing an excellent job on our voyage… Captain Peter Boss of Holland America Line praised his colleagues for the small “positions of power” at the bow and stern of the luxury ship after moving the “MS Oosterdam” from a berth between two other cruise ships in the port of Tauranga that had maneuvered Safely in the open aisle. “What good is a powerful motor when the monkey is at the wheel,” our leader philosophizes with his unique humor, which always makes us laugh at the good and the bad news.

On Tauranga Beach
On Tauranga Beach: In the background, the “MS Oosterdam” is sandwiched between two other cruise ships. Locomotive captain skills required.

The cruise port of Tauranga, which in Māori means something like rest or marina, blends seamlessly into the long and wide shores of the Bay of Plenty, where hundreds of people swarm in search of relaxation on this hot summer day. The city of 114,000 inhabitants with its subtropical climate is a popular seaside resort, surrounded by New Zealand’s largest kiwi growing area. All ships wishing to reach Tauranga Habor from the Pacific Ocean must press through the entrance to Tauranga, a strait about 500 meters wide between Matakana Island and the volcanic cone Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga Strait
Its width is only 500 meters: the Tauranga entrance strait is a major hole for all ships.

The most popular pub in the southern hemisphere

For Crusaders, Tauranga is also the starting point for a day trip to the hot springs in neighboring Rotorua, the center of Maori culture, or to Hobbiton Film near Matamata. We chose the latter. Since director Peter Jackson released part of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogy there, Hobbiton (in German Hobbiton) has become a magical attraction for tourists. It is said that it was 300,000 in Hobbiton last year. Guide Nathan, who leads us through the area, explains the legendary “Zum Grünen Drachen” (“Zum Grünen Drachen”) inn, the most famous pub in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Gasthaus “Zum Grünen Drachen
View from Beutelsend to the fairground and the big tree. In the background the “Zum Grünen Drachen” came down.

As we approach Hobbiton from above by bus, with views of the fairgrounds with tree, lake, and “Green Dragon,” I wonder what Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” films actually have with New Zealand and its culture doing? next to nothing. There is no Maori in the movies, no haka – the Maori ritual dance to instill fear in their opponents – and no New Zealand spirit who is crazy about rugby and loves roast lamb. On the other hand, in Peter Jackson movies there are terrifying orcs, witches, elves, little creatures with very big hairy feet, and they fight against evil to help the good win in the end. The eternal human dream of David’s victory over Goliath – in the books of J. R. R. Tolkien this came true after long struggles, and in Peter Jackson’s special effects films in the perfect Hollywood style. Many tourists now come to New Zealand specifically for the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” sites.

Shire – a paradise for fans of Frodo & Co.

Hobbit lovers in the Shire are delighted to have arrived at the destination of their dreams. The green pastures and rolling hills of Alexander Farm provide the perfect setting for a Hobbiton. The old lady with a walker who can barely follow Nathan up and down the filming tour knows her way around perfectly and can answer all his questions. The secret to her knowledge: She always had to read from Tolkien’s books to her grandchildren.

Hobbit Caves
One of the many hobbit caves, some of which have been resized differently. (Photo: Alexander Ehlers)

A path leads past the facades of 44 small hobbit caves with round doors in blue, yellow, and pink, past flowery front gardens and fruit trees to Bag End (Bilbo’s and Frodo’s home). Cross the arched bridge to the famous festival tree. The tour ends at the “Zum Grünen Drachen” inn, where hobbit beer and cider are brewed. Each visitor gets a free drink.

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The tree over the end of the bag
It looks real, but it’s fake: the tree above Bag End.

Grill for everyone

After returning to Tauranga, we have enough time to visit the beach before the MS Oosterdam sets off, where we witness a surprise. We get into conversation with a New Zealand young woman and her son grilling sausages on the beach – on an electric grill that has been permanently installed there by the municipality and can be used by anyone. This protects the environment and should help prevent fire hazards in times of drought.

Grill for all visitors
Permanently installed on the beach: a grill for all visitors
[tabs][tab title=Anreise]There are flights to Sydney and New Zealand from Germany via many international hubs, including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Emirates. More information about New Zealand at: www.newzealand.com[/tab] [tab title=Schiff und Reederei]The MS Oosterdam is a classic, elegant cruise ship. Passenger Capacity: 1.916; crew: 817. It has 11 passenger floors. The language on board is English, but there are German speaking reception staff and a German language menu. Holland America is one of the major cruise lines with European roots, dating back to the century before last. The fleet includes 15 luxury medium-sized vessels sailing under the Dutch flag. Holland America Line was honored in eight categories at the 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards by the prestigious Porthole Cruise magazine, including “Best Alaska Routes”, “Best Beach Tours” and “Best Private Island of Half Moon Cay”. More information at: www.hollandamerica.com[/tab] [tab title=Tipps]Sydney travel guide with city map of Dumont and New Zealand Travel Guide from Dumont[/tab][/tabs] [php snippet=47]

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