Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Earth, or Middle Earth? A Hike Through New Zealand’s Wonderfully Weird Landscape

Waimangu Volcanic Valley, New ZealandFrom Robertson House, my lovely bed and breakfast in the town of Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, I drove for only about 20 minutes to the surreally beautiful Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Almost as soon as I began my 2½-mile hike here, I fully understood why Peter Jackson chose to film The Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand. Clearly, this was what J.R.R. Tolkien had in mind when he was creating his world of Middle Earth back in the 1940s. Read more >

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Staying in the Cradle of New Zealand Tourism at Robertson House

Robertson House, Rotorua, New ZealandEvery day in Rotorua, the birthplace of New Zealand tourism, I explored and was continually awed by the region’s gorgeous natural features — the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, the giant redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest. I took in the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, fell in love with the wonderful buildings of the Rotorua Museum, and relaxed in the meticulously maintained Government Gardens. And every night I returned to the Robertson House, a comfortable bed and breakfast in a quiet neighborhood about a 10-minute walk from the city center. This lovely establishment had all the requisites of a desirable B&B: a charming property, a convenient location, an excellent host, and a very satisfying first meal of the day. As an added bonus, it had the laziest, most adorable dog imaginable. Read more >