21.02.2016 - 25.02.2016 27 °C
So it has all been decided. I am moving to Hobbiton, and becoming Sarah the cheesemaking Hobbit. The focus of the rest of the trip will be growing my feet to full Hobbit size so I can be accepted.... but more on the wonders of Hobbiton later. The last entry ended as we were leaving Christchurch for Kaikoura for the second time.
Kaikoura was as relaxing this time around as it was the first. We decided against whale watching in the end, as the hostel (Top Spot) had the most beautiful garden filled with rosebushes and an afternoon sat reading in the sun was calling. We only left the hostel for some fish and chips and a quick round of mini golf (which I won very convincingly).
The next day we departed for the north island via the Picton to Wellington Interislander ferry. Somehow in laid back New Zealand this crossing takes 3 1/2 hours(!) despite being able to see the north island from the south island. Rob loving most forms of transport loved the ferry. As did Wilf.
As a side this is a photo of my poor feet after the prolonged south island attack of dastardly sandflies. Absolutely tiny little blighters, less vicious and manky bites than mozzies but they itch 10x worse! The photo really doesn't do justice to the number of bites I had.
My birthday was Tuesday this week (23rd), and thank you to everyone that messaged me. We were scheduled to be in Taupo on the evening of my birthday and had some wedding present activities to sample, so we decided to have a birthday dinner the night before in Wellington. As the ferry only arrived in Wellington at gone 5 we didn't have time for an explore and our impressions of the city mostly come from the views from the ferry. It had a Cannes type feel with lots of marinas and large villas extending up the hills from the sea and CBD. Had dinner at the Monsoon Poon, a Thai/Asian fusion restaurant a bit more pricey and with a wider cocktail menu than the rest of the trip. As you can see from the pictures the drinks were pretty strong.
The only real negative of our trip was that night, a stay at a hostel with sadly no private rooms available, that was just awful. The hostel was pretty grubby, but the bigger issue was the tiny window and baking hot room with no fan or air con. The room was also right over the bar (just what every honeymooning couple longs for) so with the tiny window open the noise was pretty in your face, or ears. These issues along with some lovely 18 year old roomies who thought coming in drunk at gone 1am turning the light on and proceeding to sit in the middle of the room for a loud chat was fine. This was the only dorm room on the whole trip that we had any problem with and we are awaiting news of a refund as only 2 or 3 hours of sleep was had.
We didn't let the lack of sleep bother us on arrival for our one night in Taupo. We headed out in some rain on a hike up to the Huka Falls. A sidenote.... a "gentle" walk in New Zealand should not be mistaken for a lovely flat gentle 10 minute stroll to the local pub, they tend to be 6 mile hilly off road experiences, beautiful but not typically gentle. Initially the plan was to hike there and back but the rain persuaded us to wimp out and get a cab back to a pizzeria near the night's hostel.
The plan for the night was some sailing around Lake Taupo to view some Maori cliff carvings, however half an hour before the trip was due to depart the cloud and drizzle was so low, that although by the departure time the sky had lifted into the most beautiful sunset the word had already gone out the trip was cancelled (a bit of a disappointment but there are other sailing opportunities left to come). We made the most of this unexpected time to drink some cider and view the sunset from our private (yay) room, followed by what until recently I would have called Netflix and chill, but apparently the young folk mean something totally different when they say that! Thank you to Claire, Markus, Alice and Joe for the private rooms on our Kiwi leg, as you can see from the below photo some of them were pretty awesome.
After Taupo, we took advantage of Kiwi Experience's hop on/hop off and hopped off in Rotorua for a night. This is but a short bus ride away from the amazing place that is Hobbiton!!! The home of the Hobbits in Peter Jackson's two epics, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Hobbiton is the now permanent set used for all the outdoor hobbit home town scenes and includes 44 Hobbit holes in the hills, vegetable patches and the Green Dragon Inn where one stops for a free cool beverage (ale or cider) at the end of one's tour.
This is my future home... the cheesemakers Hobbit hole!
We had time for a quick maypole dance at the party tree
As you can probably tell from the amount of photos, I loved Hobbiton!!! Enough to even buy my first souvenir of the trip, a Green Dragon Inn flagon Thank you to Nat and Jamie for the gift.
That evening after a flying stop back at our hostel (private room with ensuite and a private kitchen/diner and patio door opening onto the pool for £40 a night) we headed off for a Maori cultural evening at Tamaki village. After the welcoming challenge was met we were allowed in the village to spend an hour being taught the cultural ways of the Maori. I got ultra competitive (a shock to all that know me I'm sure) at a Maori children's stick game.
and Rob attempted a haka, which sadly the video I took of this won't upload here, but I can assure you was one of the funniest things I have seen on this trip so far. His inability to tell left from right really caused some issues, I hope the ancestors forgive his poor effort!
After a brief show of impressive song a dance, a feast was served post cooking in the ground over hot stones for 5 hours. This was the first time in over 2 weeks we experienced New Zealand lamb and it was a pretty good thing the feast was an eat until you fall over buffet, as it just melted in the mouth. The whole night passed in a flash and it was great after touring most of the country to learn some of the history of it's initial inhabitants. Thank you to Rob's Canadian dwelling relatives for this wedding present.
Before we noticed it our last full day in New Zealand was here. Today we have travelled our final leg on the big green bus and arrived back in Auckland. We found our final hostel, dumped our bags and headed to the Sky Tower. A 1000+ foot observation tower in the centre of Auckland. The lift on the way up had a glass front and half of the floor was glass, I had my eyes shut the whole way up! The views from the top were breathtaking, and after I built up enough bravery to run screaming as fast as I could across a patch of glass floor (to the laughter of fellow tourists), Rob treated me to a Sky High Bellini, and had another ultra manly colourful cocktail himself. Thank you Em and Stuart for this amazing experience.
The below photo shows some of the nutty types that pay to walk around the very rim of the Sky Tower over 60 floors above the ground.
As it is was our final dinner in New Zealand, we splashed out a bit and went to a sushi restaurant and stuffed our faces.
Now all that is left is a quick repack of the bags ready for the flight to the Cook Islands and a quick browse around the shops of Auckland's CBD tomorrow morning. The net out on Rarotonga is not known to be great so the next update may be a few days away, but I'm sure the sun, sea and private pool will keep me otherwise occupied.