Here are a few more remaining snaps of our trip to New Zealand in 2013. I am still pinching myself that this was so long ago, or so it feels!
After getting back to Auckland we caught a bus through the countryside to Rotorua. We traveled through the town near the Lord of the Rings set of Hobbiton. Admittedly, I had desperately wanted to go, but we were on quite a budget and it was ridiculously expensive. So instead I contented myself to admiring to rolling hills of the countryside, which looked exactly like the Shire. I would love to come back one day and check it out though! Maybe a tour of all the film locations in New Zealand is in order?
We had been warned that Rotorua stank, and it did. For the first few hours we were slightly overwhelmed, but you quickly got used to it. The smell is reminiscent of rotten eggs, due to the hydrogen sulphide emissions of the regions thermal activity. The steam in air is also oddly eerie.
We checked out one the Maori villages in town. The village is built on top of a highly active thermal region, so the town is literally falling away under their feet. In the photo below the area out the front of the hall was cordoned off due to massive holes emerging in the ground.
It was fascinating learning about how the people of the village lived off the thermal activity, including using it for cooking! This was lunch – hangi – being steamed by the thermal heat.
The next day – or maybe later the same day, I can’t remember the order of everything! – we headed out for a guided cycling tour. We had picked up the brochure at our hostel, and weren’t really sure what to expect. To our surprise we were the only ones on the tour. It turned out the owner was a young local man, just starting up the business – Happy Ewe Cycle Tours. He was wonderfully entertaining, informative and passionate about the town. Suplur.
The tour lasted a couple of hours, and was pretty chilled out. Rotorua is very flat! We learnt everything from the thermal activity of the region, to the towns history as a spa district. We ended with a foot spa in a local park, Marmite on crackers and the local favourite of L&P soft drink.
We returned back to Auckland for a day or two, and rounded in our remaining time with the zoo and the museum. I was mildly (okay, extremely) devastated that we couldn’t see a kiwi at the zoo. They were hiding!
I did, however, get to see stuffed ones at the museum. Still not quite the same though…It was such a fun little trip for our first overseas getaway together! I would love to go back and see more of the country. We only just covered a tiny bit of ground at the top of the North Island!
Looking through travel photos is certainly fostering my sense of wanderlust even more! Chris and I are currently on mid semester break, and had planned to go on a road trip, but it seems unlikely with the amount of study we have to catch up on. We will have to hold out until the winter holidays for another getaway!