My arrival to the North Island of NZ saw me land into Auckland and then make the journey south to friends in Hamilton (or the Southfarthing in Hobbit speak). Here I met up with old friends from university days Greg, SJ & family. The weather was a marked improvement on my last few days in the south. Plenty of time to enjoy the sun and lazy by the pool. Saturday brunch at a local café provided a surprise on the menu. Pytt i panna!!! It was the genuine article! Turns out the café owner’s wife was a Swede from Södertalje.
The highlight of the visit to the Shire was a trip to Hobbiton! Yes, it is officially now a town in the register of NZ place names. After the LoTRs films the site was partially removed including the burning down of the Green Dragon (intentionally for a 2 sec film sequence), however it was rebuilt permanently for the Hobbit films and remains today as a tourist attraction. And boy were there a lot of tourists. Well my meanderings took me through the stone veil into the dale passed the party tree (its real) up the veil to Bilbo’s home of Bag End on Bagshot row. The highest point up in Hobbiton and most palatial. The great oak above his house is not real but a copy of the original which rotted and fell down. From there it was a short meander around the lake to the Green Dragon for some Southfarthing Girdley fine grain ale (not to be found anywhere else). From the Green Dragon it was just a short stagger over to Samwise Gamgee’s place unfortunately he was off on an adventure much to the chagrin of the Tooks & Brandybucks who considered adventures were a bad thing and not for them. With the all the interesting hobbits off on adventures then it was time to say goodbye and head on back to Auckland. A useless fact: Peter Jackson managed to get an act through the NZ parliament creating a 5km no fly zone around Hobbiton. Extraordinary!
What was supposed to be a fleeting visit to NZ´s city of sails to catch up with my newly married nephew and friends turned out to be a longer stay than anticipated with frantic calls to airlines and my travel agent. Upon turning up to take my flight to Sydney at 5am I was promptly told by LAN airlines that I did not have a ticket and would not be flying onwards to Sydney with them. So the flight went without me and left me stranded in Auckland not knowing when I would get out. No amount of countering with, that I was on a round the world ticket and that I had got this far, production of countless ticket numbers and booking references would move them. With a 12 hour time difference it was a long wait until I could get hold of my travel agent in Sweden. My travel agent spent 5 hours battling them but according to the airline my booking was there and they would take no responsibility for the fact that I had been bumped or provide any compensation. In the end my travel agent got me onto an Air New Zealand flight and I made it to Sydney albeit a day late.