Captivating Auckland City


From among the cities I have been the past 12 months, I have left a piece of myself in the City of Sails. The moment I have set foot in Auckland, I knew right there and then that I would love the city the way I have always loved my ex-girlfriend. I tried my best to think through the reasons why I have been enamored by Auckland but I almost always end up lost for the right words.

Because of this dilemma, I just opted to let you see this beyond alluring city through my lens. Here are some of my uncountable Auckland City photographs.





Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Hobbiton (Matamata, New Zealand)

I’m going on an adventure!” – once uttered by Bilbo Baggins to a farmer who asked about his rush while running through Hobbiton.


Despite not being a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” movies, I am definitely a person who loves to go for almost any sort of adventure. So, when a window of opportunity to see the famed Hobbiton movie set came about, I didn’t have second thoughts (despite the quite pricey fee).

Hobbiton is actually a 1250 acre active farm (Alexander Farm in Matamata, New Zealand. Despite being more known as the home set of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, it also houses roughly 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle from which mutton, wool, and beef are their primary exports.


The way to Hobbiton was beyond picturesque… verdant, rolling hills with seemingly limitless numbers of cows, and sheep. Every corner is really postcard-worthy. Upon reaching the set, visitors are transported to a bus going to The Shire. Again, the view along the way is beautiful!

Upon arrival at the entrance, you will already be greeted with hobbit holes. As you go on with your walking tour, one will get to see more hobbit holes that come in various scales according to where they were seen on camera. According to our guide, the smaller ones were in far-away shots while the larger ones were used for the close-ups. FYI: Most of the hobbit holes are just frontages with more or less 4 feet in size.


It is worthy to listen to your guide for some very interesting stories. He told us that during filming, those hanged washings were changed every day so that it always look fresh. He also said that moss we see around the farm isn’t actually real, they are instead made of paper. (It looks real to me, though). One of the most interesting things shared was the creation of the tree atop Bilbo’s hobbit hole. Had not we were informed, I would never think it is a fake one! I must say that the touches for the film are extremely detailed.

The highlight of the tour is definitely seeing Bag End, where I had a few (not so good) shots. (By the way, another interesting fact shared was about the sunset scene – Bilbo and Gandalf smoking together in the movie — wherein it was actually taken here during the sunrise.

The tour ends at the Green Dragon Inn (this is where Bilbo Baggins met Thorin Oakenshield prior to their adventure) where each visitor was given a mug of beer of his/her choice. I tried the ginger beer and it was surprisingly good.

It was an almost 2-hour sauntering through the emerald set. It may not be the cheap kind of visit, but it is definitely a one for the books kind of experience. By the way, it is much cheaper if you just book a ticket online than going for a package tour. This is exactly what I did (with a little help from a good friend of mine). So there…


Hobbiton Movie Set
•    Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
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New Zealand: Auckland Volcano Walk

Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow. — Khalil Gibran

Auckland is known to many as the City of Sails. I, however, would like to think that it should also be given the moniker “City of Volcanoes”. With more or less 30 volcanoes within the city, Auckland can be best marveled atop one of these volcanoes by sauntering your way to their craters and summits. I am fortunate to have had an enjoyable, leisure walk to four of them. And as expected, the view above is spectacular and beyond amazing!


Walking around the vast volcanoes of Auckland is a way of gaining an understanding of the city’s opulent geology. It was a cloudy (and the bit of a rain) kind of day when I did this volcano walking tour, but the experience didn’t disappoint at all. The 4 volcanoes I got to visit included Mount Wellington, Mangere Mountain (my personal favorite), Maungakiekie and Mount Eden. All four offered a panoramic view of Auckland, the city harbor and the neighboring islands. Along the way to each of these mountain’s peaks, various native animals and plants shouldn’t be missed.


Mt Wellington: Located 10 km southeast of the Auckland city center, it was named after the Duke of Wellington. Its Maori name is Maungarei. This 135 meters volcano is said to be the youngest of Auckland’s volcanic peaks having last erupted just over 10,000 years ago. It has a lovely deep crater featuring some volcanic rocks and flowers.


Mount Eden: Perhaps one of the most popular volcanoes in Auckland, is also called Maungawhau. It stands at 196 meters high and is regarded as the highest of the Auckland volcanoes. A lot of tourists/ foreign and local visitors alike, come to Mount Eden. It offers a spectacular viewpoint of the city and the Waitemata Harbour beyond. It is a lively, trendy area with a charming blend of culture and nature.


One Tree Hill: Also called Maungakiekie in Maori, is one of Auckland’s culturally significant volcanoes. The peak features a monument, and the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell, the ‘founding father’ of Auckland City. It is also Auckland’s largest and intact volcanic cone, 183 meters high with 3 craters. It was once the center of the Maori occupation and is claimed to be the prime pre-historic earth fort in the world. The grassy slopes and gardens of the domain are also home to sheep and cattle that still graze on the land. (Too bad cherry blossoms are no longer in bloom when I visited).


Mangere Mountain: From among the 4 volcanoes, this 106 meter above sea level beauty is my favorite. Considered to be Auckland’s best-preserved volcanic cone, Mangere Mountain boasts remarkable views across the Manukau Harbour. Besides Maungakiekie, it was also a former Māori settlement area. It is said that a big percentage of its lava output has been quarried away. The trail up to the peak is dotted with some picturesque trees and some cows grazing. Just lovely! It basically sums up the New Zealand view I have always pictured in my head.


Volcanoes seem to have helped furnace the Earth – from the land to the oceans and the atmosphere. Having an understanding of these amazing land features would make us appreciate the framework of life.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘Juan”derlust. Take it easy ebriwan.