Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall's New Zealand visit kicked off in style with a traditional Maori welcome. Their 2015 will see them explore the capital, before heading to Auckland, Dunedin, Nelson, Westport, and New Plymouth, and enjoy New Zealand's famous landscapes, literature, music and wine, before they fly out to Australia.
Inspired by the royal trip, we take a look at 5 must-see destinations in New Zealand, the mystical land famous for its role in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Prince Charles and Camilla received a traditional Maori welcome
New Zealand's cool, culture-rich capital is located at the southern tip of the country's Northern Island and is home to the country's Hobbit-led film industry. Wellington also has a thriving bar scene with more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York.
New Zealand's cool capital is home to more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York
The farming landscape around the Waikato town of Matamata, a two-hour drive from Auckland, is where the fictional region of Middle-Earth was filmed in the Lord of the Rings, and the natural landscape has gone on to depict the magical setting for The Hobbit. These lush green pastures and rolling hills famous for dairying and fine thoroughbred horses, as well as being home to Hobbiton and The Shire, are a must for New Zealand explorers.
The exquisitely detailed Hobbiton set in Matamata has been permanently installed
Tongariro National Park
Home to one of New Zealand's nine Great Walks and the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the national park, with its harsh landscape featuring steaming craters and swamps, constant fog, eerie colours resulting from mineral deposits in the small lakes and the perpetual smell of sulfur, has served as an impressive backdrop on the big screen.
Tongariro National Park, North Island
Surrounded by the dramatic mountain range The Remarkables, Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, is a stunning and chilled-out base for your South Island excursions – and the best way to sightsee is by helicopter. While in the South Island, it’s well worth a trip further south to Mackenzie country and the stunning turquoise glacier lakes such as Tekapo. The area is perfect for hiking, horse treks and spa retreats.
Queenstown is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu
Tai Poutini National Park
Near the west coast of South Island, Tai Poutini National Park is the home of the Franz Josef glacier, whose 12-metre tongue, together with the 22 metres of the Fox Glacier, form a valley called Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The slopes of perpetual ice can only be toured by helicopter, a unique experience which includes landing on the glaciers and allows visitors to see the setting where the Lighting of the Beacons was filmed.