Real Volcanic Activity
Trip Start Oct 13, 2011
48Trip End Jun 07, 2012
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Annabel: Firstly, sorry if you find that piece above a bit hard to read, Conor was rather tired when he wrote it so it’s not the most coherent writing ever! So, for the Maori evening we all got taken over to the village by shuttle bus, and for each bus group of people there had to be an elected chief. On our bus we tried to nominate the amazing American, Noodles! But he was not so keen so in the end it was one of the Gay brothers who took on the task. When we arrived we all had to stand around the entrance to the village in a semi-circle while the chief from each bus stood in the middle of the semi-circle, facing the entrance. When we were all assembled the ceremony began. It involved the chief of the village standing above the doorway, sending out four different warriors in turn to perform the welcome ritual to see if we were friends or enemies. We had been told by our Kiwi bus driver, the brilliant Bruce, that what the warriors were doing was imitating different native New Zealand birds, and we were both really pleased that we knew this as it made the ceremony even more interesting
After we had been welcomed and shown out intentions, we were welcomed through the doorways and into the village. The village was really amazing, it was actually set up like a traditional Maori village would have been with houses and work sheds and fires, and in small groups we rotated around the houses learning about different aspects of Maori life. Conor got to try a traditional game which was meant to help train warriors (he came 3rd out of 4, so probably not going to make chief anytime soon!), and I had a go at a Poi dance. After we had had a good look around we were called through to see the unveiling of our dinner, which had been cooked in the traditional way in a hot rock pit covered in hessian sacks and earth
For the standard Kiwi bus route, people only stay in Rotarua for one night. However with the buses being so full at the moment we weren’t able to get on one for a few days so we were staying for three nights. The day after the Maori evening we did a trip which was definitely in my list of 'reasons to go to New Zealand’. And that was to go and see the set of Hobbiton!!! We got picked up at around 2:30pm and were driven for about an hour through some amazing hillside landscapes to get to the location. When we got there we were both really surprised and refreshed by how un-commercialised the place was. It was just a very basic, but very nice, little shop and café with some sheep and a shearing shed
Had we had done this about a year ago, at the point when we arrived at the set I would have been absolutely gutted. That is because, after the filming of the Lord of the Rings the set was to be all taken down, as this was the agreement with the farmers. However, half way through demolishing it rain stopped play, and it was at this point that the farmers said why don’t they just leave what is left and they will let the public come and see it. And that is what happened. But all that there would have been to see was the general landscape of the set which white painted plywood for the frontages of the hobbit holes, as the original set was not built to last. They weren’t allowed to have gardens or props set up either. So, like I said, if that had been what I’d have seen on arriving there, I would not have been happy as we had no idea that is what the tour used to be like (even though after looked back at a locations book I have that is what it shows!). Luckily for us, Mr Jackson is just about to finish filming of his new film, the Hobbit, which involved re-building the entirety of Hobbiton but this time in durable materials so that it could remain there for the public to go and see! It was really wicked to see. Everything was there, the Party Tree, Sam’s house, the lake with the Green Dragon and watermill and bridge over it (although you are not yet actually allowed to go over to these),and of course, Bag End. For the tour you were basically taken around the set with a guide who told you some interesting facts and stories and you could take as many photos as you liked, the only rules were that you could not sit on any of the props or go through/over any of the hobbit hole garden fences
Conor: We spent about an hour and a half at Hobbition, exploring all the different sets and hearing stories of the more extreme fans that have visited. One of the coolest bits for us was when we saw a part of the set not used in the filming. Originally Guilliamo Del Torro (a director both Annabel and I like) was supposed to be doing the hobbit, and he had constructed several hobbit holes before he had to quit being director. These hobbit holes were not used in the film but were still there to see, and it was really interesting to look at how the film might have been really different!
After dragging Annabel away from Hobbition we went back to the café and got to watch a really random sheep shearing show, hosted by a very rural farmer, who wanted to tell us all about the sheep and cattle trade! The sheep shearing itself was pretty aggressive to watch, but that’s rural life. Annabel also got to feed a lamb, which of course she really enjoyed! After this we received a free pie, cookie and drink which was a bonus and then got a lift back to Rotorua. We spent the evening relaxing and trying to write blog posts.
On our last day in Rotorua we started off by visiting a Giant Redwood forest which was absolutely massive, so we both spent a few hours exploring the walks that were there. Annabel ended up walking 11.2 km in just under 3 hours, which she was very proud of
We left for Taupo the next morning, but on the way we stopped at the Ta Paiu ?????? thermal park, for a look at some more really really hot pools (we cooked eggs in one of them), some erupting geysers, some Maori carving and cultural stuff and finally got our first look at the elusive Kiwi! They were much larger than I expected and one of them seemed obsessed with running round one particular shrub, but it was really cool to see them. I don’t think there is much chance of seeing one in the wild! At this point we had fallen behind most of the friends we had made at Hot Water Beach but luckily the amazing Arron and Sarah had stayed a few nights in Rotorua, so we all got back on the bus and made our way there….