NZ part 4 The North Island: Volcanoes and hobbits!
Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
50Trip End Jul 22, 2013
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Our 1st day, we got up early and drove straight to Tongariro. We would have loved to explore Wellington but we really only had time to do a whistle stop trip of the north island so we decided to compromise by omitting the cities. We had hoped to do some of the Tongario crossing (whats open of it) but we arrived a little later than expected and the walk was an hour or 2 more than we thought so sadly we were unable to do it. Determined still to see some of the stunning landscape we decided to take a flight which was fantastic. We got a really good overview of the area (and with a lot less effort although we were still slightly disappointed not to have done it on foot!) One day we may return...
We returned the next day to see a geyser erupt. Every morning they put some soap powder in the natural geyser to make it erupt with 20ft of water and steam. it naturally erupts anyway but they put on a bit of a display for the tourists. After that we headed for Rotorua, a city that stinks of rotten eggs but has a certain charm about it regardless! We didn't stay long but we did have time to fit in a trip to the museum (mostly about the beneficial effects of the natural springs and the hospital which was erected here in the late 19th century to make the most of this.) We also went to Whakawarea a geothermal maori village where life still centres around the geothermal activity in their back gardens
After Rotorua we headed out of the volcanic strip and back into the rolling countryside this time headed for Matamata where the Hobbiton scenes were filmed for LOTR and the Hobbit. We were lucky to have gone at this time as only 18months ago the set was mostly dismantled and fans only got to see a couple of hobbit holes left in the side of the hills. But since they filmed the Hobbit, the set was left up and lots of houses and buildings added which made for a fantastic tour. We got lots of pictures outside the Hobbit holes and then headed to 'The green dragon pub' for a hobbit sized mug of cider! After our tour and an infamous '2nd breakfast' at The Shires rest, we headed for Raglan. Raglan is a seaside village with famous surfing waves and reminded us a lot of Lennox Head - just down the road from Byron. We spent the night in Raglan visiting my friend from uni days, Sam and her boyfriend Matt, it was great to catch up as it has been a while
Our first evening in the bay of islands was spent booking up a few trips for our last few days. We then went for fish and chips in this awesome restaurant that was inside an old boat with fab views through the window. It was very quirky and my fish and chips were served in newspaper at the table! It was a bargain at about 5 quid and was very tasty. After that we headed for KeriKeri to see 'The Hobbit' inspired by our trip to Hobbiton. t was released the day before our tour so its big news out here at the moment. We really enjoyed the film but I won't tell you what happens!
The next day we went on our boat trip out to the islands. The weather was on our side and we were on a great boat - a spacious modern catamaran. We spotted some dolphins pretty quickly and took our opportunity to swim with them. However I didn't get very close as I was having snorkel issues
Our last day and a half was pretty cloudy so after a quick look around a town called Russell, we headed to Auckland where mostly we spent our time packing and getting ready to leave the camper van. We did have time for a quick wander around the city centre and we also dropped by Wyns great aunt who moved to New Zealand more than 50 years ago who he had never met so it was interesting for him to puts a face to the name and to talk about their family history. Sadly we did not have long as we had a flight to catch but Im sure it will not be the last time we go to New Zealand as we have both loved it!
There is now 1 week to go before xmas
So all thats left is to wish you all a very happy christmas and new year! x