New Zealand

My obsession with “Middle Earth”

As the latest Hobbit Movie is about to be released, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. Each time I see anything that has to do with The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, I feel homesick for New Zealand, and I can’t even call it home. It all started 12 years ago when we went to New Zealand for the first time… back then I considered it “just a break” from my 6 month backpacking trip to Australia that I was making with my friend Jennifer. After two months of backpacking through the Australian outback, she traveled back to Canberra where her (nowadays) husband lived and I flew to New Zealand, to travel around there for a month with Martijn, who was flying in from The Netherlands.

Immediately after arrival, I felt at home. As I had traveled to the mountains with my parents a lot as a little girl, I always had a great passion for them. Upon arrival at the Southern Island, I knew I was going to love it. The mountains, the glaciers, the lakes, every bit of it. After 4 weeks of touring, our time was up and I was flying back to Australia to continue my journey along the east coast. No matter how much I enjoyed myself, I couldn’t help but feeling sad I wasn’t in New Zealand anymore. It just made such a huge impression on me.

After coming home, we visited many awesome places all over the world, but never as impressive as New Zealand was for us. Each time I was somewhere, I found myself comparing it with New Zealand. I think you can call that an obsession.

So finally, 9 years later, we decided it was time to go back. We both got 6 weeks off from work approved and the preparations took almost a year, but eventually, off we went. The whole year leading up to the trip, I felt like I was a little kid again, totally excited about what was to come. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to something as much as this particular trip. We planned everything carefully, booked the mountain huts, arranged some excursions and hired a car. When the time was finally there, I couldn’t believe it was happening. Something I’d been looking forward to for so long, was about to come true…

Looking back at it, those 6 weeks were the best weeks of my life. What can I say, our trip was just perfect. Of course, nothing is perfect for 6 weeks, but it was pretty close. Out of the 6 weeks, we just had 5 days of rain, mostly on days we were driving from one place to the next, so basically we did almost everything we planned. The only thing we didn’t do was kayaking at the Queen Charlottes because there was too much wind. Other than that, all we planned came true. We hiked 5 great walks, camped at the most beautiful spots, went mountainbiking, seakayaking, did a SkyWalk and many other awesome things.

Mount Doom

People ask me what I like so much about New Zealand but I can’t describe it. The mountains aren’t the highest, their glaciers aren’t the biggest, the fjords aren’t the deepest and the volcanoes aren’t the most active. However, the feeling is just right. The distances are short, the trails are well maintained, the people are incredibly friendly and the combination of natural wonders is just one you can’t find anywhere else in the world on such a small piece of land.

Each time I see a preview of The Hobbit I feel a little itch going through my body. There is so much left to be explored there, so much left to see. So many trails to be walked and still so many places to be seen. I’ve decided that I won’t feel sad about it anymore, that it’s too far to just fly there for a week (although I would, it’s just too expensive) but one day we’ll be back. To hike the other Great Walks, to explore the Bay of Islands and to hike to whole Te Araroa (3.000 km) track. One day…

Last night, when we had dinner with a couple of friends, I told them that if I ever win the lottery, I’m packing my bags and going. Buy myself a farm somewhere in the Southern Alps, have my own B&B or whatever and just walk, walk and walk… don’t get me wrong, I love my life here in Holland but if I ever get the chance to head out there for an undecided amount of time, I will grab it…

For now, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Middle Earth pictures. When the movie is coming out next week, I’m not going to see it. I just don’t like The Hobbit. I was disappointed by the first movie and didn’t bother to see the second one. I’d probably fall asleep. I’ll watch them on DVD one day…

abel-tasman-coastal-track fox-glacier hobbiton kepler-track lake-matheson mount-cook pupu-springs kiwi-roadsign mount-cook-lake-tekapo wanaka


By now, we wrote a lot of blogs about New Zealand. You can read them all here or just click any of the below:
Tramping New Zealand: The Tongariro Northern Circuit
NZ Tramping Tip: Bushline Hut in Nelson Lakes NP
Things to do in New Zealand that don’t involve hiking 

Thanks for sharing!


  • Karlijn Travels

    Heel mooi geschreven Anto! Wat gaaf als alles klopt tijdens zo’n reis, en je alles kunt doen zoals je het bedacht had 🙂 Je gevoel bij Nieuw-Zeeland klopt helemaal met dat van mij. Gewoon een briljant land, mede vanwege de diversiteit op een relatief klein oppervlak. Geweldig! En de foto’s zijn fantastisch 🙂

  • Murray Clark

    Great blog Antonette, and even though I live in New Zealand and have travelled to around 80 countries all over the world, still think New Zealand is a pretty nice country to visit, especially the South Island which has some stunning scenery, and of course it is where most of “Lord of the Rings” was filmed. There are nine “Great Walks” through magnificient national parks in New Zealand, most over around 5 to 6 days, I have walked them all over a number of years, and they should be on any overseas tourist bucket list if you love the great outdoors.

    • anto

      We plan on coming back one day to do the other Great Walks one day … these are a great way of getting used to staying in the great outdoors and can easily be done by anyone who loves hiking and has some stamina. Can’t wait to be back one day…

  • kami

    you are always the person I think of when someone mentiones New Zealand (and 3 more destinations ;)) I really hope to go there one day as your words and pictures make me daydream of it so much!!

    • anto

      Haha somehow I knew you were going to say that! I am curious about the other 3 countries, 2 I can imagine but the other one leaves me curious!

  • Meg Jerrard

    Absolutely beautiful – would you believe I’m Australian and I’ve never yet been to New Zealand?! It’s almost like a crime!!! After seeing your photos I’m getting my ass into gear and booking a ticket!

  • Maria from Nerd Nomads

    Wow, New Zealand looks absolutely stunning!!! Would love to go to New Zealand one day! Being a huge Lord of The Rings fan, it is high up on my bucket list. It looks very much like my home country Norway actually. I think you will love Norway too! 🙂 We have awesome nature and mountains too.

  • The Guy

    Your pictures and words sum up exactly why I need to fulfill my dream of going to NZ one day, absolutely beautiful!

    I don’t like LOTR and have no interest in The Hobbit. Yet maybe I should sit through it just to admire the scenery? What do you think?

    • anto

      Only the first LOTR movies are worth it when looking for landscapes. Don’t take the extended version it doesn’t add much but the landscapes will make you want to goooooooo! 😀

  • Fem

    Oh yes, New Zealand is absolutely one of the finest countries on earth. Love at first sight it was… If I hadn’t met a dude from Hamburg back-in-the-day, I would have moved to NZ after my rtw trip… (having said that, Hamburg is home now, but I will one day go back to NZ for another few months…)

  • Jenna

    Gorgeous photos! I really, really want to go to New Zealand–I have a feeling we would fall in love with it too! Everything about it sounds just so amazing. Glad you got to go back and enjoy it for 6 weeks and that the weather worked out so great for you!

  • paul wastney

    I understand completely. The photo of Lake Rotoiti is one of the world greatest photos, congrads. Your site keeps me homesick, BUT, there are still some incredibly cool places that you have not seen yet.

    • anto

      Ahhh Paul, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the picture comment, I’m sure you miss home. I can’t wait to head back out to NZ one day … we’ll come to you for advice, that’s for sure!

  • Lotte

    Great post! I totally feel the same way, New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world and I miss it so much… Thanks for taking me back for a moment with your awesome pictures!

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