How could a Hobbit Odyssey of New Zealand be complete without a trip to the Hobbit Movie Set at Hobbiton?
Our very first day in Middle Earth consisted of a tour of beautiful Auckland, a Ring Burner burger at Burger Fuel, picking up a Harley Road King at Auckland Harley-Davidson and then charging down to Middle Earth to see the Hobbit set.
It didn’t exactly all go to plan, though.
Our Auckland tour guide is Mojo Motorcycles New Zealand general manager Dale Schmidtchen, an Aussie ex-pat who has been here a year and fallen in love with the place.
He treated us to the best coffee, views and burgers as well as filling us in on the benefits of living in New Zealand – no snakes, cockroaches or spiders. Well, not many of the latter.
Auckland is a beautiful harbour city in the centre of the North Island where the Tasman Sea almost meets the Pacific Ocean.
The city is dotted with more than 50 long-dormant volcanoes, some of which are just hillocks and others are quite big with grassed craters.
The most recent is a 600-year-old volcanic island off the coast.
Riders can spend all day riding from one to the other and gorging on the breathtaking views. We weren’t on our bike yet, but our tour still took all morning.
We also dropped in at Experience Motorcycles in Kingsland where John Mackinlay has an attractive shop and is the top-selling Triumph dealer in the country. He also has BMW and various brands of scooters.
This is just one of many motorcycle dealers in a town that seems to have a thriving motorcycle and scooter culture. You can even ride a 50cc scooter here on a car licence.
After our burger, chips (pronounced “chups”) and LNP (lemonade and paeroa) lunch, we picked up our bike for the next two weeks.
We were expecting a Street Glide, but got a Road King Classic, instead which suits me just fine. The Classic has the saddlebags which aren’t lockable but hold more, which is good for Mrs MBW who will no doubt do some shopping over here.
We had a quick look around the dealership which has moved into large and trendy premises with more than 50 carparks. Dealer principal Ray Pratt says they are already planning to extend with a cafe and deck.
We throw all our luggage into the Road King which is one of 16 Touring bikers they have for hire, although all are hired out until the end of March.
Time is now running short to make it to Hobbiton before it closes at 4.30pm, so we hit Highway 1 and head down through Hamilton and Cambridge. It’s not the most scenic way to go, but you know what … everywhere is scenic in NZ.
I’m very jealous of the lush-green countryside and we’re wild about the wildflowers springing up all around.
But nothing prepares you for just how cute and cinematic the region is around Hobbiton.
We arrive as the last tour bus is leaving for the tour of the movie sets, but we don’t really mind because (a) it costs $75 each and we’re not really Hobbit or Lord of the Ring fans and (b) the ride in and out of this area is like being in a scene from one of Peter Jackson’s six cinematic gems.
Tomorrow we head to the art deco seaside town on Napier, via Rotorua.