It’s Hobbit Town For These Travelling Residents

As they always do, Lois and Tony enjoyed their cruising holiday, once again taking in the offerings of our neighbours across the ditch. Here are a couple of items Lois gleaned from that trip:
A bit of interesting trivia from Wellington, New Zealand.

Whilst Tony and Lois were crossing a main road in Wellington, a lady passer-by brought to their attention that the ‘green man’ light, which indicates it is safe to cross, had been replaced by a ‘green lady’ i.e. Kate Sheppard. Eight pedestrian crossing lights near Parliament promote the women’s suffrage movement led by Kate Sheppard, resulting in New Zealand being the first country to introduce voting for women in 1893.

On Board Tidbits
Whilst on our cruise around New Zealand, the master of the vessel would give out little tidbits at 12 noon after the eight bells. An interesting piece of information was one theory of the meaning of the word POSH, which we all know to mean nowadays as stylish and elegant. The origin of the word back in the 1800’s was that it stood for Port Out Starboard Home…POSH.

It is said it came about that the most desirable accommodation on the steamships sailing from Britain to India and back as they went through the Suez and the Red Sea, the port side got the morning sun and the starboard the hot afternoon sun and on the return trip the opposite was true. The cooler cabins therefore were the most desirable and reserved for the richest travellers. It is said, whether true or not that their tickets were stamped in violet with the letters P.O.S.H.



Lois in the “Shire”

The highlight of our tours in New Zealand had to be a visit to the movie set of the Hobbit. Around an hour’s drive from Tauranga, you are met with a sign reading ‘Welcome to The Shire’. This is where the trilogies The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings were filmed.

The once normal 1250 acre sheep and beef farm just outside Matamata was discovered by director Sir Peter Jackson, who realised it would be the perfect setting for The Shire, home of the Hobbits.
Thirty nine Hobbit holes were created. We took photos of nearly all of them, bridges, fruit and vegetable gardens, the Mill and The Green Dragon Pub, the famous oak tree that looks down on Bag End.

I could have spent longer than the 90 minutes allowed marvelling at Peter Jackson’s magical touch. The original oak tree was transported in from near Maramata, and artificial leaves wired on so it looks to be in leaf all year long. The Royal New Zealand Army was brought in to build the roads and some of the in-frastructure and most of the 900 soldiers were also used as Orcs in the movies. 180 pairs of the large hairy Hobbit feet were made individually for all the Hobbits.

Most of the fruit trees, apple and pear and the vegetables in the gardens are real and they employ gardeners to keep everything in perfect shape and order. But there are exceptions like the plum trees which are hung with artificial fruit as plums don’t grow in that part of New Zealand.

We had ale in The Green Dragon which is brewed specially for that pub and no other public house, pale ale, dark ale and cider served in earthenware goblets. It feels like the little people are actually living there; smoke spiralling from some of the chimneys, tiny clothes on washing lines and beautiful, real flowers growing in their gardens. It seems they have all gone out for the day and will return later. If you ever get the chance, even if you are not a Hobbit fan, do go and see for yourself.

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