Another week has passed and sadly more goodbyes have been had – but not before an absolutely lovely week of adventures. Our first week in the North Island has definitely been more like a holiday! We have been very spoilt by our English visitors, fresh from their luxury cruise with cocktails and three course meals. For us this week in a quaint clifftop house with home cooked meals and a rental car has been a huge upgrade to a bumpy van and packet pasta, but it’s definitely not the waiter service and all inclusive they were accustomed to. As per any holiday (and the majority of our trip so far it seems) plenty of ice cream was consumed along with beer drinking, silly card game playing, overdoing the walking, and some top touristing.
Our first tourist fun was our adventure to Hobbiton! Whether you are a fan of the franchise or not, this place is a few hours well spent. Me and Mum enjoyed the film and book references and took pictures of Bag End and other recognisable hobbit holes however James and Nan could just as easily appreciate it with the stunning scenery and free booze at the pub; The Green Dragon.
We learnt that the lucky farmers who own the plot of land were stumbled upon by the film crew as they flew over looking at the rolling countryside. They were chosen merely for having some hills next to a lake and a tree, and the rest was built up around the farm. I’m sure they didn’t expect it to be as big, nor that years after they first starting working with the Lord of the Rings team they would still have tourists flooding in by the coach load and paying for the privilege. Lucky lucky sods.
Our stereotypical tourist activities continues with an evening visit to Tamaki Maori Village just outside of Rotorua. Rather than being the actual home of indigenous people, the place was set up entirely as a tourist attraction. It was however fun, entertaining and educational actually! On top of that, we got a traditional Hangi meal served to us and I got to watch James make a tit of himself attempting to participate in a Haka so it was definitely an evening well spent.
Our rental car certainly got its use as we took another day trip out to the Coromandal Peninsular. This area of the North Island a known as a bit of a holiday destination. You could easily spend a week exploring the area and spending time on beaches, in rainforests or in arty towns. With just one day we managed to fit in a fair amount (of course including ice cream).
We drove first to a beach known only as Hot Water Beach – which as you can imagine is famous for its hot water. When the tide is low it’s possible to feel warmth under the sand erupting from natural hot springs. Even better, if you dig down on the warm spots you come across not just warm, but sometimes boiling hot water and can create and sit in your own hot water spring! The beach was full of families, the men of which were wielding shovels ready to dig their hole and guard it like territorial cavemen. To begin with, there was a little bit of sneaking around on everyone’s part; eyeing up other people’s spots to see who had the best hot water and more importantly who was in a good spot to not get washed away or have their hot water swamped by the contrastly freezing sea. That said, it didn’t take long before you were friends and up close and personal with these sneaky strangers in order to make the most of the hot pools whilst they lasted. Me and mum shared a pool with some lovely Kiwi children who were holidaying and watched James enjoy the manly digging and wall building. Along with the wall building came jokes about his name being “Donald”, which was most amusing when the children we were sat with starting calling him that! Sadly, there are no pictures of these moments. I didn’t take a camera into our hot pool, but I can assure you it was very hot and we looked ridiculous absolutely covered in thick wet sand.
From Hot Water Beach we drove up the road to Cathedral Cove. Having nearly killed Nan off on a previous “quick” scenic walk that took in excess of two hours, we left her with a nice view of the sea, and the company of James who also didn’t fancy a walk. Me and Mum got to spend some time together doing what we are good at – gossiping mainly! The views on the way were beautiful and the iconic Cathedral Cove didn’t disappoint either.
Once we had made our way back to the other two (with a stop for a Feijoa juice – very nice, google it, I had to!) we headed back to our Auckland house via an off road rainforest track and a Pizza Hut. A good day was had all round really!
As well as the exciting things worth sharing there was plenty of pottering around towns and shops, lots of snack consuming and most importantly lots of laughter. It was so good to see Mum and Nan, and although it wasn’t so good to say goodbye again, it was safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be long until we see them next, and that the memories of this week will be there for a lifetime. Now we are just waiting for James’s Dad and wicked step mum to let us know when they are jetting out to meet us too! 😉