Our magical 1st day aboard the tragic magic bus!
Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
71Trip End Oct 01, 2015
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Our magic bus left early and we were up waiting at the bus stop when a bus pulled up, tai went off to check the bus coming back saying yep this is us, so we put our bags underneath and queued up to get on, it was then we noticed everyone had kiwi experience tickets, we'd joined the wrong bus and had to ask the driver to take our bags off again for us! Soon after our magic bus arrived filled with fewer and older than 18 years old passengers - we were soon on our way. Our first stop was just for coffee in a place called thames where some people left and others got on, after that was a town called paeroa famous for a drink called L&P after some local boys started making lemonade, it got so popular they bottled it and sold it, after a little argument that it couldn't be called lemonade anymore they imaginatively named it lemonade and paeroa after the town. It seems the town is so proud of its little claim to fame they've built a big statue of one of the bottles in the town centre!
There's only so long you can look at a statue of a bottle and so we were soon on our way to the place tai had been looking forward to visiting since we decided to come to new Zealand - hobbiton!
We arrived at a town called mata mata at around lunch time, the town itself used to get around 50,000 visitors a year and since lord of the rings and the hobbit was filmed in a private farm in the area it now gets around half a million visitors a year! We had some lunch and waited for our movie set tour to begin.
We were picked up in a bus and driven down a windy road next to a farm, just before we left id looked in a book in the gift store at some photos of hobbiton and I didn't want to tell tai but it looked really bad. So not expecting much we headed down to the set, on the way we passed areas of field and were told this was where the film crew would of had their make up done or this is where they would of eaten lunch- it was just patches of field... It wasn't looking good, we carried on down the windy road that weaved it's way between the hills on either side and then we rounded the corner and everything changed. Nestled between the brown grassy hills was an area of lush green grass, a lake, huge trees and lots of little round doors. We jumped off the bus and headed into hobbiton to explore, we saw lots of hobbit holes when we first arrived, the tour guide was quoting parts of the film that related to where we were standing at particular times, we also found out that to be an extra in the film you had to be under 5ft 2! I'm officially hobbit size now apparently :-( and to be honest the doors didn't really seem that small!
The set was incredible, there was so much attention to detail, they had even built a fake tree which they apparently decided that they weren't happy with because of the colour of the leaves so they had someone individually spray each leaf a different shade of green!
We wandered around the set, walking in some of the hobbit holes, playing with the well and other props and finally seeing bilbo baggins house- bag end which actually was familiar to me after reading the first part of the hobbit! We then walked across the village to the party tree which is where the hobbits are all standing in the field when the fireworks go off at the beginning of lord of the rings- again I recognised this as it was a part of the film before I fell asleep! We ended our little tour in the green dragon pub with a beer specially brewed and only available in hobbiton!
An hour later we were driven back to our hostel for the night where we had 45 minutes to check in and try and find somewhere that sold sd cards as ours had run out at hobbiton. We ran into town and everywhere seemed closed until we found the new Zealand equivalent of wilkinsons, we had 10 minutes at this point and was stuck in a queue behind a lady very upset that the shop didn't stock a computer game that she wanted.
Luckily we made it back just on time to be picked up and taken to a mauri experience. We learnt what the phrase Kia ora means - Kia - to be and ora - healthy but they use it for greetings, thank you and other common terms.
We had to elect chiefs for the evening, 2 people volunteered and Israeli guy and a slightly irritating American, when we got to the village the chiefs had to go through an initiation process, this was a typical occurrence in Maori villages and we were told to take it seriously and not laugh, the chiefs had to line up while the Mauris came out one by one and performed a kind of intimidation routine, shouting, pulling faces and swinging spears aggressively around them. Then the chiefs had to pick up a bit of leafy stick and then it was all ok, they smiled and we were allowed to as well! They then welcomed the chiefs with a typical greeting which is putting their noses and foreheads together twice.
We then went into the village where there were a number of huts and each hut taught us a different element of traditional mauri life, we learnt how they carved and built their villages, how they developed hand eye coordination through games - I volunteered for one of these games , one where you had to swing a ball on the end of a string and catch it in the other hand- I ended up hitting myself in the face! We of course learnt how to do the haka- tai was the volunteer and was praised for his hip movements! And finally a game with with 4 poles- each with someone holding them and the Mauris which shout left or right (in mauri) and that was the stick you had to go for- tai won!
After our tour of the village we headed to the cooking area where they showed us a traditional cooking technique of burying food under the ground on hot rocks, the meat and potatoes for our dinner had been cooking for some 7 hours when they pulled it out and showed it to us. Quite unfairly we were told after smelling and seeing this beautiful food that we would have to wait another hour before we could eat it. We were then taken in for a performance where the mauri tribe performed dances, songs and finally an awesome haka routine! We were all on the edge of our seats and so excited to have watched a haka, it was ace. Then it was time for dinner- an all you can eat feast of traditional mauri food - it was basically a roast dinner but just cooked in a different way- it was beautiful and we ate until we could hardly move even managing to fit in some custard and steamed pudding!
To finish was a farewell ceremony where a traditional song was sang followed by one last performance of the haka. It had been a great night and 1st day of our magic bus.