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Our Travel Adventures

Welcome to the Adventures of Larry and Connie Farquhar.

Day 32 - "Epic" New Zealand Adventure 2022

Hobbiton 4 Hobbits at Hobbiton
Rolling green hills

 We can't get over how beautiful the rolling green hills are here. We're told it's not like this all year, we just happen to be here at the right time. The weather has been fantastic, with just a couple days of rain at the beginning of our driving. Since then, it's been sunny and warm.

We arrived in the small coastal town of Hahei and enjoyed a picnic lunch along the Coromandel Peninsula. We stayed at "The Church" guest accommodations. Quaint cottages surrounded by gardens. While Bob and Joyce hiked to Cathedral Cove, Connie and I drove around the local area exploring. The next day, we enjoyed the nearby Hot Water Beach.

Lunch at Mercury Bay Winery
Hahei Beach
The Church Accomodation
Hahei Beach
The Church Accomodation
Hahei Beach

 Hot Water Beach is a world-famous beach at the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula which contains two volcanic hot water springs that keep the water heated. During low-tide, people dig out a small pool in the beach sand, which fills with water. Depending on where you dig your hole, the water is cold, warm, hot, or very hot. Bob started to dig our hole, but it was just cold water. We ended up taking over someone else's hole they dug, which was a combination of very hot to warm water. The very hot was too hot to touch. We could see the steam coming off the sand next to us, as we watched people try to walk across it. Unfortunately, a lady took her small girl across this very hot sand the girl let out excruciating screams as she burned her feet.

While staying at Hahei, we had a delicious lunch at the Mercury Bay Winery. Great views, great food, and great drinks. We then made the short hike up to Shakespear Cliff, looking over Mercury Bay.
Mercury Bay Winery
A Happy Couple
Lunch
Wine Tasting Flight at Mercury Bay Winery
Lunch
Mercury Bay Winery

After a couple days in Hahei, we headed to the town of Rotorua. But before we found our hotel, we had reservations to visit "Hobbiton", originally the filming location of the "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" film series. After the film ended, the "Hobbiton Movie Set Tours" tour program was set up. In these films, this was the small Hobbit town in the Shire. Hobbits were small people about 3.5' high. It was fun walking around the old movie set, viewing the various Hobbit homes built into the hills. Again, it was extremely beautiful. The tour ended with a free drink at the Green Dragon Inn, located at the edge of the small town. 

After our tour, we continued to the town of Rotorua and checked into our hotel, "Prince's Gate". These rooms were nice, but very small. They were about the same size of the rooms we had on the cruise ship. But they met our needs. That evening, we enjoyed a cultural show and dinner at a Mitai Māori village. This was an "authentic" introduction to Māori culture with an evening at the Mitai Māori Village of Rotorua. We saw warriors in traditional dress, paddle in an ancient canoe and were "captivated" by the displays of weaponry. We watched 'haka' and poi dances and viewed glowworms in their natural habitat. Okay, most of that advertising information was true, but they make it sound more glorious than it actually was. The show at the Māori Treaty Grounds we first visited, seemed more authentic.

Waitomo Glowworm Cave

The next day was another highlight of our trip (so far). We headed to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. This attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand. It is known for its population of Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species found exclusively in New Zealand.

The guided tour through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves brings the visitor through three different levels and begins at the top level of the cave and the Catacombs. The levels are linked by the Tomo, which is a 16 m vertical shaft made of limestone. The second level is called the Banquet Chamber. This level is where early visitors stopped to eat and there is evidence of this in the smoke on the ceiling of the chamber. From here we linked back to the upper level to see the largest formation called the Pipe Organ.

The third and final level goes down into the Cathedral, demonstration platform, and the jetty. The Cathedral is an enclosed area with rough surfaces, now paved, and is about 18 m high, giving it good acoustics. A number of famous singers and choirs have performed here including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The tour concludes with a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto. The boat takes the visitor onto the underground Waitomo River where the only light comes from the tiny glowworms creating a sky of living lights. Photography was not allowed until exiting the cave, but the below picture was fairly accurate. The boat ride through the cave was magical.

Glowworm Cave
Glowworm Cave
Glowworm Cave
Glowworm Cave

A very well-done tour that we all greatly enjoyed. The glowworms were amazing to see in the dark cave grotto. On our way back to Rotorua, we stopped at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. There are several species of native birds in this sanctuary, but the highlight was the Kiwi breeding section. The Kiwi is a rare, almost extinct bird. There are 5 species of Kiwi, but here was the Brown Kiwi. They are nocturnal, so there were special "night" enclosures for viewing. We were lucky enough to view a Kiwi. They are much larger than we expected. While we wished we had seen a Kiwi in the wild, that is extremely rare. 

After arriving back to Rotorua, we walked around Kuirau Park. We walked around to discover the steaming, hissing and bubbling geothermal activity in this informal public park located right next to Rotorua's city centre.

Yesterday, we drove the three hours to our next stop, the town of Napier. This town is set amid the renowned wine-producing region of Hawke's Bay. We have a half-day tour reserved for today for a "Wine and Beer Tour". It doesn't leave for a few more hours and it is drizzling rain again, so I'm typing this blog up while we wait. I'll report how the tasting tour went later.... 

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Day 35 - "Epic" New Zealand Adventure 2022
Day 26 - "Epic" New Zealand Adventure 2022
 

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Tuesday, 29 November 2022