Lights, camera, action: Aussies back hob-nobbing
Within 24 hours of touching down in New Zealand, an Australian tourist couple headed south for their first must-do – the Hobbiton Movie Set.
Monique Baker, who was celebrating her 23rd birthday, and partner Brandonwoods were excited to tick the location off their bucket list.
‘‘Even though we’re not huge Lord of the Rings people, it’s just one of those things you have to do,’’ Baker told Stuff as they waited for the big green bus to roll in and collect them yesterday.
The tour was a birthday gift from Woods.
It’s been over a year since international travellers have been able to set foot upon Middle Earth, but since the two-way bubble between Australia and New Zealand opened on Monday bookings have slowly started to come back.
Air New Zealand said Monday was a ‘‘mammoth day’’ with more than 5000 people expected to travel on its aircraft across the Tasman.
The Queensland couple booked their return ticked on Sunday, April 18, and arrived at Auckland International Airport on Wednesday.
‘‘I’m feeling relaxed, happy and excited,’’ Woods said.
Beaming with excitement and unable to wipe the smiles from their faces, the duo were finally able to explore another country after a year of staying behind closed borders.
Baker and Woods have travelled to New Zealand before, but never to the North Island.
Australians make up 20 per cent of overall numbers at Hobbiton, its biggest international market.
‘‘Everyone agrees this is the first step back to some form of normal again – it’s surreal,’’ Hobbiton marketing manager Lily Craig said.
Even hearing an Australian accent on the phone excited the staff, Craig said.