Friday, 21 April 2017

We've been on Ruth Johnson

There is a time 
for everything, 
and a season 
for every activity
under heaven.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1

In March we made our third trip to New Zealand visiting Brian’s two cousins who, with their parents,  had emigrated in 1962.

On our first trip in 1990 we had permission to take our children out of school for a month, it being seen as a one-off educational event.  And making the most of it we linked the time to the Christmas holidays.  We based ourselves with the family in Auckland, and toured the south island.  Christchurch looked very English with its huge church, market stalls, and river punting. In Queenstown’s we enjoyed ‘safe’ white water rafting, took the paddle steamer across the lake to a sheep station to see the shearing and wool processed into garments.  And to enjoy a boat trip from Milford Sound to the Tasmin Sea we opted for amazing, but  bumpy flights over the mountains in a six-seater Cessner. 
Back on North Island we stayed with different families from our UK church who lived in towns from windy Wellington with its hillside houses to Lake Taupo where from the original bridge our son did a bungee jump. In Rotorua we experienced Maori culture, mud pools, geysers and rode the Luge (rubber sledges down a steep hill) which I found terrifying!   After several days in Auckland we took the one main road north to stay in Paihia in the Bay of Islands. There we took a boat trip delivering post and supplies to the few people and  sheep on the remote islands and drove north to Cape Reinga and along the 70 mile beach.    

Our second visit in 2001 was combined with Australia, and with two weeks to reconnect with family.  In our third visit we wanted to do the same and meet new additions to the family, but to do so we had to travel around the north island.  Except for cows replacing sheep, not much had changed since our first visit..  The majority of roads are quiet with one lane in each direction and towns barely changed from the 1920's.  However, farmland is now being sold for housing. You buy a 'section', design your house and have it built. Each has every modern convenience, is unique in style and together form an attractive estate.

Farmland was sectioned off in 1999 to build a very different kind estate, the village  'The Shire’ of the Tolkien books. The original thirty-nine hobbit holes along with the bridge were made out of untreated timber, polystrene and ply which was later dismantled. No-one could have predicted the films success and ten years later it was rebuilt out of permanent materials.  Since 2011 has been open to the public as 'Hobbiton' the Movie Set.  The sheep farmer is said, for use of his land, to receive 20% of the profit. We estimated at around £6,000,000 a year!   

In 1936 Tolkien was persuaded by his children to submit “The Hobbit” for publication.  When it was widely read in the 1960s they must have been thrilled, but no-one could have predicted the popularity of the sequel.  And Peter Jackson, although inspired to make the films, had no idea of the wealth and fame he, and others, would derive from the story. 

I came away encouraged.  We have no idea who will read what we write, who we will inspire while alive, and saw how God’s plans and purposes can extend long after death as the written word continues to touch hearts and open minds.

A Hobbit house facade, there are no interiors


  1. Sounds like an amazing holiday. It is on my wish list.

  2. Also been there three times to date, Ruth - my mother was a New Zealander - and I can identify with many of the things you mention. Yet to see Hobbiton though - next time? Writing a book at the moment about my first NZ pioneers from Scotland. This time on my father's side.