Lord of the Rings Filming Locations in New Zealand You Can Visit

Pack your bags, grab some bread and cheese, and wrestle with your fear of horses, because you’re going on an adventure! Follow the footsteps of the Baggins’ clan, seek out wonder with Gandalf, brawl with the dwarves, and more as you explore the stunning New Zealand scenery found in LOTR’s iconic movie scenes.

Fiordland National Park

Anduin River
The sparkling waters of the Anduin River appear in the first Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring in the opening aerial scenery, and again as the Fellowship used it to make their way to Mordor from the fair realm of Lothlorien. While you won’t see the magnificent statues presiding over either side of the river, visiting the Waiau River, Mararoa River, and Kawarau Gorge in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park will bring you straight into the Lord of the Rings world. Both are easily accessible by car or from the Kepler Track. Keep an eye out for the Silvan or Wood Elves while walking through their lands.

Mavora Lake

Fangorn Forest
The area surrounding the rivers is known on the silver screen as Fangorn Forest, but traveling along Takaro Road near Te Anau will bring you to the mighty Mavora region. Here you’ll be able to follow the route along real-life Mavora Lake that Merry and Pippin used to escape from the Uruk-hai. Travel along, seeking out the mighty if slow Ents that called this forest home, and where Aragorn set out in search of the mischievous hobbits. Set among the stunning lakes, rivers, and mountains of Fiordland National Park, its easy to imagine seeing elegant human-like creatures vanishing behind trees, or branches murmuring to one another just out of your line of sight.

Lake Wakatipu

Ford of Bruinen
Set out on an adventure to find the opening scene from The Two Towers. From the village of Glenorchy in New Zealand, you can find the northern side of Lake Wakatipu, and from there you can see all the way to the north-west sloped of Mount Earnslaw, both of which made up some of the landscape scenes in The Two Towers. From there you can also discover Lothlorien and the Pillar of Kings. Of course, all you’ll find on the quest for Lothlorien is a massive beech forest, and Anduin and Argonath were pure movie magic, so you’ll see the place where they would have stood instead. If you visit Chard Farm winery for a view of Anduin and Argonath, continue on to Crown Range Road and follow it first down into Cardrona Valley, and finally up to the summit of Mt. Cardona, which offers a stunning panoramic view of would-be Middle-earth.

Twizel River Bridge

Pelennor Fields
Visit Mackenzie Country to walk the fields that held the epic battle where thousands of brutish orcs clashed with the humans of Gondor and Rohan. While the fields are private property, tours can be arranged with the town that owns it, Twizel, and they can lead you through the foothills of the mountains that look exactly the same as they did in the movie.

Mount Sunday

Edoras
Drive to Ashburton District’s high country to Hakatere Potts Road and walk to Mt. Sunday, where the main city for the people of Rohan once sat. While nothing of the set remains of the capital city of man, the sheer-sided hill still offers a little glimmer of movie magic left behind. Set in the middle of a plan with the Rangitata River valley serving as the rest of Edoras, it’s easily photo-worthy.

Mt. Gunn

Gondor Calls for Aid
Seek out the magnificent summit of Mt. Gunn and look to the horizon. It was here that the beacons between Gondor and Rohan were lit as Gondor called for aid. This moment stood out as a prominent scene in all three movies, so be sure to see it for yourself! Mt. Gunn can be reached by a hike or even a scenic flight.

Hobbiton
Seek out the green, circular door set into a hill for second breakfast while visiting Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Mount Victoria is easily within reach of the capital, and the forests surrounding the area were used to film the cozy, iconic scenes of Hobbit life. Mount Victoria also provided the paths where the hobbits hid from the ring wraiths.

Throughout your exploration of Wellington visitors can also see the Hutt River running through Moonshine Park and Totara Park, which also made an appearance as the Anduin River, and Harcourt Park, which served and the Gardens of Isengard. You’ll also get to see some of Rivendell in Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park, Queen Elizabeth Park where the Nazgul and mumakil were filmed for the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and even Osgiliath Wood, called Waitarere Forest in real life, where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum traveled after leaving Faramir. If you’re planning to go a little further over the hill to the Wairarapa region, you’ll get to see the Putangirua Pinnacles, where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli set out in the search for the Paths of the Dead.

The Shire
Look out over lush dairy farming lands, green rolling hills, and wildflowers softly waving in the breeze as you wander through the tranquil paths of the Shire. Set in Waikato Town of Matamata, this amazing set was built a year before filming to allow weeds to grow through the cracks, little gardens to prosper, and weathering to make the whole of the Shire look cozy and lived-in. It is now a permanent attraction, where visitors can head down to the Green Dragon for a drink, dance under the Party Tree, and visit Bilbo’s house at Bag End.

Mount Ngauruhoe

Mount Doom
With the one ring hidden away in a pocket, friend and foe clashing, and the burning eye of Sauron watching, reaching the summit of Mount Doom was nearly impossible. Luckily, Mount Ngauruhoe doesn’t have quite as many orcs and lava, and it’s a good deal smaller than Mount Doom, because of the digital alteration for the movie. While filming at the summit of Mount Ngauruhoe wasn’t permitted due to it being a sacred site in Maori culture, the slopes of the mountain were used for filming, and the mountain is still open to hikers. Stop in at the Tongariro’s visitor center before making your way up to reimagine the excitement and peril Sam and Frodo faced.

Bonus: The Hobbit Filming Locations

Lake Pukaki

Laketown

Look out over the waters that Smaug terrorized and the human-run Laketown lives on the silver screen. While there isn’t a magnificent, if corrupt, floating town on the lake, Lake Pukaki in Canterbury is still a stunning glacial lake, with vibrant blue waters and breathtaking natural scenery.

Waitomo Disctrict

Trollshaws Forest
The Waitomo District made its way to An Unexpected Journey as Trollshaws Forest and Staddles Farm. It was here that the dwarves of Thorin’s company and Bilbo were very nearly eaten by trolls, before the sun rose and turned them all to stone. They can also be seen in the Fellowship of the Ring, where Sam, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn set up camp in those woods as well. Perhaps you’ll see a piece of sun-frozen troll lingering among the foliage

Pelorus River

Forest River
Nobody knows a brawl like the dwarves, and the tag-team styled battle in barrels floating down the Forest River in the Desolation of Smaug truly proves the brutal creativity of Thorin’s company. Legolas and Tauriel follow along from the banks, and all of them work together to fight off the orcs out for blood. The real river is the Pelorus River, and while much of the actual filming of the scene was done in a studio, Pelorus is the real-life backdrop that is actually open for kayaking! Be sure to join in on the adventure as you maneuver your way through the hair-raising rapids.

Mount Ruhapehu

Hidden Bay

For those looking for Smaug and the secret entrance to the Lonely Mountain, be sure to seek out Hidden Bay, have your key, and of course, have a dwarf with you. Hidden Bay was filmed on Mount Ruhapehu, which towers over the lowlands of the Central Plateau of the North Island. Trekking up to this spot is no easy feat, so be sure to prepare yourself, and maybe have Sting ready for action.

By:  Amanda Little

For information on honeymoons, weddings, or travel to New Zealand, please contact Nancy Barkley @ Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways

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Top Destinations in Spain

So you want to explore Spain – where do you start? From cities of whimsy to postcard-worthy coastlines, there are no shortage of things to see and experience. Here are the 8 top Spain destinations – which will you travel to first?

Barcelona

Barcelona

There’s no city in the world quite like Barcelona. Psychedelic architects throughout the ages have left their mark on this whimsical city, but none quite as famous as Antoni Gaudi. Visit the one-of-a-kind buildings, grab a bite at the famous La Boqueria market, and get lost in the beauty of the Gothic Quarter.

Madrid

Madrid

This list wouldn’t be complete without a callout to the capital! Elegant boulevards, historic plaza, and world-famous museums, and there’s no forgetting the famous culinary staple sure to cure your hunger: Jamon Iberico, Madrid’s famous cured meat.

Costa Brava

Costa Brava

At the edge of Spain’s Catalonia district hugging the shore is the Costa Brava, a coastal region made up of charming seaside towns, a picturesque countryside, and even a stone village or two. Rent a car, drive along the dramatic coast, and discover amazing highlights along the way.

Andalusia

Andalusia

The Andalusian region of Spain is like no other, and is defined by its diverse rulers throughout the years. Unpeel the historical layers – from Roman to Moorish to Christian – as you make your way from plaza to plaza, and square to square. And if there’s one place you absolutely must visit in Andalusia, it’s the region’s capital, which brings us to..

Seville

Seville

The capital of Spain’s Andalusia region is a force to be reckoned with. Breathtaking plazas, lush orange trees, and charming streets sprinkled with architectural wonders make up this gem of Andalusia. Seville is also the rumored birthplace of Flamenco, and guests can get join the action at one of city’s many flamenco social clubs.

Granada

Granada

Another gem of Andalusia, Granada’s skyline is dominated by one of Spain’s most famous landmarks: the Alhambra. Feel the Moorish influence on every street in this compact city, and don’t forget to explore the Sacromonte Caves, home to the city’s Gypsy cave community.

La Rioja

La Rioja Wine Region

Spanish wine is mighty fine! Explore the country’s lush wine region at La Rioja, boasting over 500 wineries among its vast area. While locals know about the beauty and appeal of this famous wine-producing region, it is still left undiscovered by most tourists – a perfect destination to escape the crowds.

Ronda

Ronda

Though perhaps an off-the-beaten-path journey, following the road to Spain’s mountaintop city Ronda will not disappoint. This small yet stunning city is home to Spain’s largest bullring, and provides breathtaking views of the gorge below.

To plan your honeymoon, destination wedding or trip of a lifetime to Spain, contact Nancy Barkley Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.

By Michelle Yastremsky

8 Must-See Places in Portugal

Fairytale palaces, picturesque wine regions, and over 600 miles of coastline with breathtaking beaches – it’s not hard to see why Portugal is one of the hottest destinations of 2017!

From cities of kings to canal-laden streets, here are 8 of the dreamiest destinations in Portugal.

Places to visit in Portugal

Sintra

Explore fairytale palaces!

Discover remnants of Portugal’s Moorish past with a visit to Sintra, a city dominated by pastel-colored villas and former royal residences.

Places to visit in Portugal

 

Places to visit in Portugal

Coimbra

Former residence of Portugal’s first king.

Snake through medieval alleyways, discover Romanesque cathedrals, then explore the city’s most famous landmark: the oldest university in Portugal! Coimbra is also the only city in which you can hear the haunting melodies of Portugese Fado sung exclusively by men.

Places to visit in Portugal

Places to visit in Portugal

 

Lisbon

Sloping hills and romantic coastlines.

History, art, and energy blend beautifully with Portugal’s culture of leisure in the capital city. You can even take a literal journey through history with a ride on the famous tram 28, which uses trams from the 1930s!

Places to visit in Portugal

Places to visit in Portugal

Porto

Cheers to Portugese wines!

Historic squares, idyllic riverbanks, and famous Port Wines await those who enjoy wine tours. From medieval districts to Baroque churches, there is no shortage of sights to explore and fall in love with.

Places to visit in Portugal

Places to visit in Portugal

Algarve

Unwind at famous beaches!

This postcard-worthy region of Portugal may be known for its overabundance of beaches, but there’s much more to discover in the country’s southern-most region. You can also enjoy sweeping views from scenic cliffs, or explore fishing villages sprinkled with candy-colored buildings!

Places to visit in Portugal

 

Places to visit in Portugal

Azores

Comprised of nine volcanic islands!

From bathing in mineral springs to whale watching on the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago of Azores offers visitors an abundance of ways to unwind and connect with nature.

Places to visit in Portugal

Places to visit in Portugal

Aveiro

Nicknamed the “Venice of Portugal.”

Start your mornings off with a stroll or boat ride along the city’s romantic canals, which are lined with colorful boats and buildings. In the evening, there’s no better place to indulge in a freshly-caught meal than in one of the many waterfront restaurants – talk about a dream destination!

Places to visit in Portugal

 

Places to visit in Portugal

Madeira Archipelago

Known as the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic.”

Lush landscapes, breathtaking flower gardens, and terrains ranging from scenic cliffs to magical waterfalls await!

Places to visit in Portugal

To plan your honeymoon, destination wedding, or trip of a lifetime to Portugal, contact Nancy Barkley @ Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.

By Michelle Yastremsky

A LEGEND ON LAKE COMO, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, situated in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world.”

Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive north of Milan.

I had the privilege to stay at the elegant Villa D’Este in Cernobbio, designated one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler.

It is truly challenging to describe how beautiful this resort is.  Upon checking in at the Cardinal Building, I was told I would be staying in the Queen’s Pavilion, both together offering a total 152 rooms and suites.

The villa was originally built in 1568 as the summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and was the playground of an Empress, an English Queen and aristocrats. In 1873, it was transformed into a luxury hotel and all rooms were individually decorated and furnished with antiques, silk brocade drapes, oil paintings and Como silk furnishings.

 

While being escorted to my room, I quickly became in awe of my surroundings.  To the left, 25 acres of luxuriously landscaped gardens complete with 16th-century mosaic monuments with the lower part of the gardens from the Renaissance period. To the right, the lakeside terrace and unique floating swimming pool facing the picturesque mountains.

My room overlooking the lake was classic elegance.  No two rooms in either building are alike in size or décor and are furnished with every comfort.

This hotel is the definition of sophistication; no wonder why the romances of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles began here.

This hotel is more than just a villa, it is a destination.  Upon reaching your room, you might not want to leave.  However, there are an abundance of water sports to choose from as well as the Sporting Club.  Located in the Cardinal Building this club is connected by a secret passageway offering a fitness center, sauna, squash court and much more.  Outdoors, there are hiking trails, a tennis center and trademark floating pool to choose from.  One can also enjoy playing a round of golf at the beautiful Golf Club Villa Deste, considered to be one of the most challenging par 69’s in Europe.

 

 

Have a Bellini lakeside as the sun sets before moving to the Veranda for world-class dining.

I am still dreaming of my early morning wake up calls.   Doorbell rings, and the waiter rolls in a gorgeous white linen table bearing silver pot of coffee and fresh flowers, as I glance at the morning newspaper, the windows open, in a room with the ultimate view.

For more information on weddings and honeymoons at Villa D’Este please contact Nancy Barkley, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.  215-793-4808.
All images courtesy of Villa D’Este.

 

 

EXCEPTIONAL, EXCLUSIVE, AND TRANQUILITY WRAPPED IN BLUE. – ANQUILLA, BWI.

zemi-beach-house-resort

 

Something Borrowed, Something Blue?  Your luxury destination wedding can be wrapped in blue, gorgeous Caribbean blue.

I love Anguilla, a secret gem in the Caribbean. This British Caribbean Island is only 35 square miles in size but offers 33 of the most beautiful beaches in the world. All of these picture perfect beaches are public, unspoiled and uncrowded.  The white sand is like walking on powder and the tranquil waters vary in their different shades of vibrant blue.  It is no wonder why Travel Channel ranks Anguilla’s beaches among the best around the world.  These beaches are wonderful options for a destination wedding as Anguilla’s dramatic sunsets will provide the most impeccable backdrop and flawless photographs.

This eastern Caribbean island is ideal for couples looking for a high style, low- key  wedding, desiring privacy and exclusivity.  While Anguilla is a chic luxury destination that is frequented by celebrities, pretentious it is not.  Luxury villas and resorts, culinary paradise, live music scene, are a few of the reasons A-listers visit here and hide in plain sight.

Arrive Anguilla via a 20 minute Ferry ride from Margot, St. Martin, where Ferries operate daily.  Ferries are also available directly from the St. Martin airport.  Flying is an option into Anguilla, however there are no direct flights as this charming Caribbean Island airport runway is not long enough to accommodate larger aircrafts.  Most connections are via San Juan, St. Martin, St. Thomas, helicopter, or private jet.  Of course you can charter your own yacht or (byob) bring your own boat.

Your wedding in Anguilla will be captivating and one that guests will be talking about for years to come.

Villa or Resort?

The Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa,  is located on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches?  Shoal Bay.

Zemi1

The Zemi Thai House Spa is exceptional, boasting the only Hamman on the island housed in a 300 year old Thai House.  This luxurious retreat offers private spa suites, yoga, and a meditation garden along with ancient rituals to heal you.  Spa day here is a must for your guests.

Zemi 2

After a day of pampering and relaxation, return to your exquisite Caribbean Style ocean view room with soft woods and premium European linens.  If 24 hour room service is not your desire, you can dine casually at 20 Knots, or formally at Stone enjoying seasonal cuisine and freshly caught seafood.

There are many activities your guests can partake in before the big day.  Rum tasting at the luxurious rum bar, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, tennis, or kayaking is worth the experience.

The Zemi Beach Resort is for the couple wanting to marry on one of the most beautiful, intimate beaches in the world.  You can choose from an elegant poolside reception or formal dining, overlooking the ocean, in 20Knots before dancing the night away.

zemi 3

If modern ultra-luxury villa is more your style, I present The Beach House to you.  The Beach House sits on 1.5 acres of unspoiled beach, Meads Bay.

beach house3

Serviced with a full complement of staff, including private chefs, butler services, personal concierge, housekeeping and more, The Beach House offers the best of the good life. With its combination of world-class accommodation, breathtaking location, and impeccable bespoke service, all who stay at The Beach House agree that it has earned its reputation for being the Caribbean’s finest private luxury beach villa. For the beach lover, this is paradise found.

The Beach House

The Beach House offers luxurious Caribbean living and every imaginable amenity. Indoor and outdoor rain showers, 12-seat cinema room, tennis courts, and extra master suite apartment, fully equipped gym, bar, lounge, library, and   infinity pool and office.

The Beach Houses stunning architecture was designed for indoor/outdoor living offering spectacular views of the ocean and sunsets.  This is the perfect venue for the distinctive wedding where a bride can make a splendid entrance arriving by boat.

Anguilla exudes delightful old charm. The unspoiled beaches and pristine waters of this dream island make it a hot-spot for celebrities and those seeking an ultra-chic, wedding.

To plan your dream honeymoon, destination wedding, or romantic getaway to Anquilla, contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways

Photo Credits:  Zemi Beach House and The Beach House.

SOPHISTICATION AND LUXURY GEM IN THE CARIBBEAN

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Paradisus Palma Real  is where you want to get away if you desire the crystal blue sea, pristine white sandy beaches, stylish accommodations and exceptional dining.

This luxury all-inclusive resort is located on one of the most legendary beaches in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the remarkable Bavaro Beach.

First impressions are everything, and this resort does not disappoint.  It is love at first sight upon arrival where you are met with a jaw dropping dramatic lobby offering stunning views of the Caribbean.

This exclusive paradise offers extravagant options and experiences for everyone, the possibilities are truly endless.  You will be treated like Royalty while staying in the adult only Royal Service, the personification of elegance offering discreet butler service during your entire stay.  You can roll out of your bed and onto the beach Bali bed reserved and waiting for you.  While you are sipping cocktails you can contemplate which fine dining restaurant you want reservations for that evening.  Private check in/check out, regal amenities, and pillow, yes pillow menus are a glimpse into your pampering.

Families can also experience this VIP treatment in Family Concierge. Children can wear their child size robes and slippers while enjoying such amenities as a Play Station before starting the multitude of children’s activities available to them.  Or you may want to stay in “The Reserve” a hotel within a hotel offering residential concierge suites.

Paradisus Palma Real is where you go to be gastronomically content.   Gourmet restaurants offer contemporary world class cuisine including Passion, by Martin Berasateui, winner of 8 Michelin stars, and well know Spanish chef.

Guests are provided endless options to relax and reduce stress. Yhi Spa specializes in Asian treatments and is a sanctuary of positive energy.  Therapists hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia specialize in treatments based on the arts of Thai Chi and Muay Thai.

Those who choose to stay active can choose from beach volleyball, tennis kayak and numerous water sports.  The Yhi Moves Fitness Center offers state of the art equipment as well as an on-site personal trainer.  However runners might want to strap on their running shoes, relish the natural backdrop of the Caribbean, and run on the miles of white sandy beaches.

Golfers will delight in the unlimited green fees included at the World Class 27 hole champion golf course designed by Jose Pepe Gancedo.

For those desiring different activities, the resort offers life enriching experiences which include sushi making, wine tasting, painting and salsa classes and more.

You will rediscover the romance of travel at this romantic haven.  This is the perfect destination to say I do or celebrate each other.

Honeymooners and anniversary couples celebrate romance “Under the Star” private dinner, rose petals bed and bath couples massages creating memories to last a lifetime.

Brides and Grooms who choose to have their wedding at this paradise are assured a postcard perfect ceremony and can choose from many glamorous locations.

This is where you want to go if you want a dreamlike location, superior service, extraordinary food, luxurious accommodations and countless activities. So what are you waiting for?  Contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways to plan your once in a lifetime memory.

All pictures courtesy of Paradisus Palma Real.

Your Get-A-Way to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Imagine hitting the slopes and having one of the world’s most beautiful backdrops, The Italian Dolomites. I invite you to experience Cortina d’Ampezzo., surrounded by the most stunning scenery in the world. The Dolomite mountains are majestic, with some serious jaw dropping cliffs and peaks rising up from beautiful valley.

Capodanno-CortinaSnowkite-cortinaSkiarea-Cortina-Lagazuoi
Located a couple hours’ drive from Venice, Cortina ( as the locals call it) is a several hours drive from Venice and a true paradise for ski enthusiasts. Powerful, sleek, and majestic, these gorgeous mountains have been named a World Heritage site.
The 1956 Winter Olympics put this area on the maps and in the living room homes around the world. Film buffs will recognize a genra of films shot at this location, from war and romantic movies to Italian comedies. The Pink Panther was filmed here in 1962 and you can channel your inner James Bond as Roger Moore hurtled down the slopes on skis while being chased by the bad guys on spike wheeled motorbikes. Brilliant.
Fashionistas will love Cortina, as it on the cutting edge of fashion and trends. You can check out next season’s fashion’s by walking along Corso Italia, the pedestrian street and the place to shop. Choose from the most exclusive brands from around the world, antique shops, art galleries, a true shopper’s paradise.
Skiing can work up quite the appetite and skiers will not be disappointed by the fine offerings of restaurants while on the slope. Once off the slope there are several high-end restaurants for the discerning tastes of the gourmands.
As a border territory, the food in influenced by both the Veneto and Tyrolean regions.

Tivoli-Cortina (3)

 

For more information regarding luxury getaways to The Dolomite Mountains, contact Nancy Barkley at Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.

Photo credit: Cortina d’Ampezzo website.