I have been a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work since early middle school — specifically, The Hobbit. The book always held a special place in my heart, but when I realized I share a birthday with the titular hobbit Bilbo Baggins, that love grew. Conveniently Bilbo Baggins’ birthday (Sept. 22) is also Hobbit Day — so plan your family trip to celebrate.
While it’s obviously impossible to travel to the fictional world of Middle Earth, it is possible to visit the land where both trilogies filmed, New Zealand.
Options for flying to New Zealand are plentiful, thanks to the more than 20 major carriers serving the island. While a non-stop flight to New Zealand can typically take 12 hours from most places in the world, flying from Europe can take 24 hours. If such a long flight isn’t for your family, consider cruising to New Zealand instead. No matter how you end up getting to the islands, there is plenty of Middle Earth goodness to go around.
New Zealand tourism authorities are not novices to the huge crowds vying to see the closest approximation to Middle Earth. As a result, there are a ton of Tolkien-inspired tour opportunities available.
If you want to specifically tour The Hobbit locations, set your sights on Matamata. This real-world home of the Shire allows visitors to take in all 44 Hobbit holes that made up the scenes. This area also has a restaurant, perfect for a light lunch and drink while touring.
Mangaotaki Valley is another destination in New Zealand central to filming The Hobbit. Anyone familiar with the film will recognize this spot as the set for much of the first one, An Unexpected Journey. This is where the troll campfire scene was filmed and, according to Tourism New Zealand, is the single biggest filming location used in the movie.
If you’re more of an audiophile, make sure to check out Waitomo Caves. These caves were used to record much of the trilogy’s audio. There are walking and rafting tours offered through the caves.
For a look into the Lord of the Rings as well, check out the Weta Cave and Studio, a production company behind much of the trilogies. Although The Hobbit film is more family-friendly, all tours and Lord of the Rings locations are perfect for fantasy-minded families.
San Diego is a great destination for families looking for fun no matter what time of year it is, but this fall, there is plenty to do for everyone — even when you have a budget. Thanks to year-round sunshine, the best way to explore this city is by heading outdoors and enjoying the beautiful weather.
By Hainan Airlines
Just because the kids have gone back to school and the days have started getting shorter doesn’t mean summer fun has to end. There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy what’s left of the dwindling season. You can extend your warm weather adventures with these activities all over the country.
The movies and cruise vacations actually have a lot in common: fascinating ports of call, making friends with interesting people, new sensory experiences, the constant change of scenery. When you think about it, it’s no surprise many classic comedies and romances are set aboard cruise ships, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Royal Wedding (1951), An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant, the more recent and kid-friendly Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and the long-running television series Love Boat.
Mana is the life force Tahitians believe connects all things. Feel the mana for yourself on a visit to the islands of Tahiti, and sample some of these activities as you connect with the breathtaking nature of the South Pacific. Fly Air France from the United States to Tahiti in the most convenient and comfortable way and let your holiday start on board.
There is an ever-growing number of options for wellness breaks — but it’s up to you to choose wisely in order to get the most from your experience. First, decide what kind of setting is best for facilitating an environment you find personally soothing or rejuvenating: city, forest, historic, mountain, ocean or lake? Do you want access to a yoga instructor, dance classes, hiking, cooking classes or another specific activity? Are you a solo wellness warrior, or do you prefer to travel with a partner or friends?