Day 9: Heading for Bag End

We woke up this morning to the tune of singing birds, nut looking out throughout the window didn’t yield the nice view we were hoping for. Grey overcast skies with a chance of rain were to be the weather for this day.

Whangamata was destined to receive a few drops of rain over the next few days, which meant that us leaving was going to be a good idea. We don’t like rain during our holiday! 🙂
The destination for today is Rotorua, or Rotovegas, as the locals affectionately call it.

But first, another stop has to be made. Back home, we made reservations for a tour starting in Matamata. This trip tours the movie set for all Hobbit movies, and also was the location for all hobbit related shots in the three movies of Lord of the Rings.
The set is left full intact, just the way it used to be when shooting the Hobbit movies.
It now has more tourists. 😉

The movie set is strangely fascinating, in ways we never though it would. The site is very scenic in itself, and adding the movie set just creates a fascinatingly weird sense of oddity. We tourists don’t belong there, it is home to the Hobbits!
While you know everything is fake and just an outer shell, the attention to detail while creating the scenes is staggering. It includes beaten paths to laundry (by real people, over time), Hobbit holes in various sizes and scales (60%, 90%), a completely fake tree (built, painted and repainted after a year) and a field in a location which used to be a swamp.
It also is really expensive, but totally worth the visit. Trust me!

After this trip down to Tolkien’s imagination, a short drive took us via very curvy roads to New Zealand’s most visited town: Rotorua.
Famous for its geothermal activity the town is dotted with small geysers, mud pools and boiling pits of water. It also is really touristic, hence the local nickname of Rotovegas. The people even have erected a similar sign right at the start of the town!
We ended the walk through the local park with the geysers, mud pools and pits of boiling, smelly, water. Also, we dined at a place called Fat Dog before retiring to the Robertsons House B&B. built back in the 1880’s it again is a colonial style wooden house lovingly maintained by its current owner. Hat tip to John for giving us inspiration for the walk this afternoon!

Tomorrow, more smelly water, geysers and walks, we are off to see the region’s most famous places: the thermal parks!

Day 8: A walk in Coromandel

As we visited the ‘big ticket’ highlights in the area yesterday already, and we didn’t feel like driving the 100-ish kilometres again today, the first destination for us was the local visitors centre. Over here, these are called I-Site, and we quickly located one in downtown Whangamata, right in the neighbourhood of one of our favourite breakfast places: Subway.

In the visitor centre we found a little map of things to do in the area, which by the way is not much.
Yes, you can play golf every few kilometers, yes you can visit the local vineyards, but those were not on our to do list. Instead, we opted for a day of small walks.
As these generally are not strenuous or long, we figured we could fit two or maybe even three in one day before we were too tired of the sun and being outdoors to go much further.

The one we chose was in the next town, Pauanui. The brochure told us it would be a 3 hour walk along a beach, visiting a ‘trig’, a cove and several other beaches. What the brochure did not tell us was that the track up to the ‘trig’ was really steep, poorly maintained and full of loose rocks. Also, the ‘trig’ turned out to be the local peak, and after a full 45 minutes of climbing we were informed by a couple hiking the track down that we were about a third of the way up. Ouch.
Also, the track was going to bee steeper, and worse, so we decided to call it a day and go back down.
This turned out to be a really good decision, as it meant we had time to spare, to walk the other side of the track, from the end towards the middle. As this was all much more flat and hugging the coast itself, it provided ample opportunities to go to small beaches, very big rocks and even a bay with a few caves!

The best part of it was a couple of kingfishers feeding their young in a tree really nearby which we observed for a full hour, just sitting on our bench and enjoying the hard work of the birds. With this seat at about 27 degrees in the shade with a little breeze from the ocean, it could be referred to as utterly comfortable.

The second part of the day, right after lunch in Pauanui, we spent on a short walk to a sand spit in another village. This one is called Opoutere and is about 11 km from the motel. With good views of the local marine wildlife (Oystercatchers, Dotterels and much more) we had a blast!

Tomorrow, we are off again, going further down south still. Destination: Rotorua!