My Point of Heu
Some of the most profound passions in my life have included sharing great stories, helping others and capturing memorable moments. From the young age of 6 years-old I began to photograph people, places and things. In elementary school I was a nationally recognized writer and photographer, in high school I anchored the morning announcements and in the 6th grade I emceed our May Day program. Then I started a life-long effort to give back to the community by volunteering. These values have remained strong and an utmost priority in my life.
Here's where I segue into my next passion project: Da Best Hawaii™
People want the best in life. If that means exploring the best places, eating the best food, finding the best products and sharing the best experiences there is a constant theme -- its all Da Best. My idea to showcase Da Best Hawaii comes from my many years of involvement, dining, traveling, meeting new people and learning about history, inspiration and motivation. My abilities as a journalist, writer, researcher, blogger, television personality, social media influencer and community member... have helped me to hone my skills and thus share compelling, award-winning, creative stories.
Taking together my passions for photography, videography, storytelling and helping the community/local businesses -- I am launching a brand new medium to showcase the very best of Hawaii digitally and on a social sphere entirely produced, photographed, edited, curated and hosted by yours truly!
Da Best Hawaii will showcase 4 simple things:
B - Beginning and how it all Began
E - Entrepreneur or Expert (chat with an official who will give us a behind the scenes and all the inside scoop.)
S- Story everyone has a story and here we tell it and share it.
T - Get a Taste (showcase the must Taste or Try).
So do me a favor and get ready for my new project that is entirely about giving back and sharing the love. Lookout for segments and bite-sized webisodes that will give you a behind-the-scenes look at Da Best Hawaii. Produced by me, shot by me, photographed by me, edited by me, coordinated by me and hosted by you know who.
There's no limit to what we can do as long as we put our minds to it and have Da Best intentions at heart.
Follow the journey online
Also, if you have a suggestion of something that you think is Da Best feel free to connect with me via this contact link:
Da Best Hawaii Media™
I've never seen the Lord of the Rings movies... I know I know they are amazing and wonderful. I just haven't gotten around to sitting down and watching the movies in their entirety.
It may surprise you to hear that on a trip to New Zealand I stopped by the actual Hobbiton movie set. Even though I hadn't seen the films I was familiar with the cast, storyline and tidbits about the movies. It was a great journey to Matamata to see and experience.
Before making our way to the tour facility and then jumping on a short bus ride to the set, we stopped at a local pub for drinks and a bite. Then we made our way to the guided tour and got to experience the background, behind the scenes, and hear the stories behind the film and the remaining set.
Discovered in 1998 the 1,250 acre sheep farm was scouted by movie location officials and deemed the perfect location for Hobbiton. Because of a towering pine tree and beautiful lake nestled within the rolling green hills producers believed this was exactly what they' were looking for and matched the J.R.R. Tolkien shire described in the book.
In March 1999 crews began construction on the temporary movie set and with the help of the New Zealand Army the 39 temporary hobbit hole community was built, then torn down after filming wrapped.
Ten years later the trilogy continued and it was decided to rebuild the set again but with permanent materials and thereby perpetuating the splendor and wonder that is now Hobbiton forever. 44 hobbit holes and the Green Dragon Inn bar and lounge remain as a focal point for visitors and guests from around the globe.
Once you arrive on-property you are escorted in with your friendly tour guide. This is a photographer's dream as the set is extremely photogenic and each hobbit hole boasts something unique and visually appealing. The traditional Hobbiton movie set tour includes background information on the location (Alexander Family sheep farm). The guide will highlight specialty areas on property and engage with guests to answer any and all questions.
What amazed me was the landscaping and upkeep of this site. The fresh produce and vibrant gardens are all real. The apples, pumpkins, gerber daisies and an abundance of flora and fauna, are all well kept and meticulously maintained. They have about half a dozen on-site gardeners to maintain the property along with worker volunteers who spend their spare time maintaining the gardens as well.
Each hobbit hole is unique and comes in a variety of colors and decor. You can wander, find your favorites and take photos of the exterior. It may sadden you to find out that there is nothing inside and the interior is just a dug out hole in a hill with wood in it. But for the most part you are not allowed inside the holes and can mainly take photos and videos from the outer gate, at the door or at times when there is something to pose with.
It's highly suggested you book your tours in advance as these sell out.
Tours are held daily and offer a variety of pick-up spots.
Price starts at $84 adult and $42 children 9-16 years-old.
The duration of the tour/time spent on-site is about 2.5-3 hours.
Here's a brief video of the site, experience, tour and etc. Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more adventures!
I must have been about 7 years-old the one time I visited New Zealand, there is a small chance that I was younger than that, but I will just stick with 7. All I recall are green rolling hills and white sheep everywhere. This time around I had the chance to visit New Zealand during the sunny fall season and it was a glorious experience that literally left me wanting more.
Upon arrival our flight got in after 10pm, by the time we got our rental car, checked into the hotel and settled it it was past 1:30am. We went to bed and woke up the next morning ready to explore. We knew we wanted to check out Waiheke Island and drove from the airport hotel to central city terminal in Auckland and hopped on a ferry. The warm sun, soft wind and clean water was inviting. After just 35 minutes on the boat we arrived at Matiatia Bay. What a splendid bay it is with small sail boats and kayaks. The air was crisp and the docks clean. There we purchased $10 all-day city bus passes and ventured to the wineries. You can also book a tour, rent a car/bike or even catch a taxi.
Waiheke Island is a haven for artists, ocean-lovers, nature enthusiasts and wine drinkers. One 20 minute bus ride and you'll arrive at a stop that features 3 vineyards all right next to each other and poised with differing activities and wines to sample and delight. Our first stop was at Wild on Waiheke, a brewery, winery and multi activity experience, we enjoyed a wine tasting and light lunch. The cool thing about this place is the outdoor activities and games you can enjoy on-site. There's clay shooting, archery, massive chess, a large trampoline and laser tag. Nestled in the midst of the vineyards is a beautiful garden and large flat green grass area to frolic. The food was great, nicely done and the wine tasting pours are smaller than what we are used to in America but enough to give you just a taste. The sampling included 6 wines for $13 - Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rose, Wildling and Syrah. It's a beautiful and fun setting with many options.
Next door is the impeccable Stonyridge Winery, this vineyard is about a 10 minute walk from the main road and up the mountain. Once you arrive you are greeted by hundreds of olive trees. Stonyridge is positioned as a more luxurious wine with notable awards, cafe, VIP club and more. They also offer tastings, an indoor and outdoor patio and really cool mountain sloped seating overlooking the vineyard. This location had pristine views with a more lively setting. This vineyard is divinely elegant with veranda cafe, yoga, helipad and full range menu items from cheeses, to mains, desserts and more. A tasting of 3 wines is $10, served outside and poured one-at-a-time, in a group setting where people can ask questions and engage with their host and each other.
The tasting is nestled under one of their many olive trees and it is there that you can sample 3 of their wines grown and created on-site from the 25 acre sustainable facility. We were still full from the 2 starters we had at the other winery that we only relaxed under the trees and enjoyed the tasting and didn't eat.
Here's their story: "Stonyridge Vineyard is the ongoing dream of owner Stephen White. In 1981 Stephen returned to New Zealand after sailing a Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, skippering yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and working at wineries in France, California and Italy. It was during this 3-year adventure that Stephen came to love the culture and lifestyle of the Mediterranean and the great red wines of France, Tuscany and California."
Surprisingly, another person from Hawaii spotted us and invited us to join their group. There we met with some of the locals including one of the owners of Stonyridge. We sat enjoyed more wine and talked for a while, until we had to catch our bus for an early dinner, then hop back on the ferry just as the sun was setting and make our way out of Auckland and toward Cambridge, which is just under 2 hours away.
Stay tuned for more on our amazing journey to New Zealand. Also watch this short video detailing our experience on Waiheke Island.