Since I left Auckland, I have been in Rotorua and Matamata. Because of how the buses worked, I first headed to Rotorua for one night, even though Matamata is closer.
Rotorua, in the bay of plenty region, sits on a massive bed of geothermal activity and consequently there are clouds of steam arising around the city. One area by the lake is called Sulphur Point, where the brother meal activity is particularly obvious. It was here I first went exploring after I arrived in Rotorua.
As the name suggests, Sulphur Point has a very strong smell. There is a short bush walk alongside it, with blackened shrubs and board walks. You can see the sulphury steam rising from the ground and a few holes with boiling mud inside. Birds strut around, seemingly oblivious to their unusual surroundings.
The smell began to get to me, so I retreated to the safety and better smell of a rose garden near the museum. After smelling the roses for a while, I noticed an empty play groundground next door to it. There was a very tempting slide, which I, of course, used. I also had a go on the swings and the climbing frame.
The next morning I got up early to go to a very exciting place: Hobbiton! Hobbiton is situated on a farm just outside Matamata. I am a massive Middle Earth fan and even have an elvish tattoo of two of my favourite LOTR quotes: “Not all those who wander are lost” and “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”.
Hobbiton was incredible! They have over 40 hobbit holes, some 90% scale, some 60% scale and some full scale! The level of detail is insane, down to the jars in the window and the plants in the front garden. There is also a full sized Green Dragon Inn (where you get one complimentary drink) and a watermill!
After my wonderful journey through the Shire, I met up with Wendy (mum’s cousin’s wife) and she took me back into Matamata. We had lunch with Rob (mum’s cousin) and I met their various pets: Smudge, Sooty and Mintie the cats and Holly and Zoe the dogs! Wendy took me out for a drive and showed me the surrounding area, then we had a relaxed evening playing Fluxx.
The next day was a rest day for me, I didn’t do much, just a bit a planning, washing and watching The Fellowship of Ring. And a LOT of playing with Zoe, who is a little puppy.
On the third day in Matamata, I went to see its other attraction – the Wairere falls! I found out that Wairere actually means waterfall in Maori! The walk up to the falls takes 90mins – 2hrs and is all stairs or steep uphill! It is a lovely walk though, with mossy boulders, bridges and occasional views of the valley.
The walk is tough, but it is 100% worth it at the top – the view is breathtaking! And, with a little daring, you can walk across the river before the waterfall and climb down so you are basically on the edge of it!
After the excitement of the waterfall and hhe much faster walk down (it only took me an hour), Wendy picked me up and took me back to the house, via McDonalds! Another chilled afternoon happened, I watched the Two Towers, played with Zoe and relaxed in the spa pool.
After three nights in Matamata, it was time to head back to Rotorua. Wendy took me the long way round and we saw the boiling mud pools at Wai-o-tapu. We had lunch at a pub there and then she dropped me at my hostel. Many thanks to Rob and Wendy for welcoming me into their home for those three nights and for showing me round!
Back in Rotorua, I had a quiet evening reading and went to bed early. The next morning I got up early and headed out to Rainbow Springs, which is a native wildlife park and conservation centre. I cannot recommend it enough! I spent an entire day there, enjoying the animals, listening to talks and taking photos.
They are also the largest Kiwi conservation centre in the world. They collect kiwi eggs and incubate them until they hatch, then release the babies once they are a certain size. The have three older kiwis living there that you can see in special ‘nighttime’ enclosures: Te Kaha, a thirty year old female, Pai, a four month old boy and Thistle, his slightly older sister. Before I left Rainbow Springs, I picked up my kiwi, Kaia.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the bird show at Rainbow Springs. They have some very talented parrots (and trainers)! There is also a ride called “The Big Splash” which is a boat ride that weaves around props, showing the history of New Zealand, then throws you down a steep waterslide to splash at the end!
My final day in Rotorua was eventful and sunny. I had a Maori experience booked for the evening, so I decided to go to the Skyline in the day. The Skyline is a gondola thathat takes you up the hill over Rotorua and you can do activities at the top. The main one is the luge, which is a cart you t in and speed down the hill on one of three tracks. The chairlift takes you back up and you can go again!
There is also a 400m zipline that whizzes at around 80kmph through the trees to the bottom of the hill. At the end you do a free fall jump (a bit like a mini bungy, without the bounce) to get down from the tower. It was so much fun! The zipline was so fast and you felt like you were brushing past the trees as you went!
After a lot of walking about, buying jelly beans and taking my zipline and the chilled chairlift back to the top, I boarded the gondola back to Rotorua and went back to my hostel to prepare for my outing to the Maori village.
They picked me up and the friendly bus driver greeted us and explained how the evening would go. We had to choose a ‘chief’ to greet the Maoris at the village and accept the peace offering. An older man named Andy was chosen. We arrived at the village and were greeted by the Maoris in the normal scary fashion! Once in the village there were stations where they showed you traditional Maori skills, such as the Haka, the Ta Moko tattooing and Poi, which I had a go at (it was a very basic routine).
After we were shown these things, there was a full performance that they did for us showing us how it all should be done! It was amazing. This was followed by the feast which was so delicious! I ate way too much! We had lamb and chicken and potatoes as well as carrots and salad. For dessert was steam pudding or pavlova.
After the meal the bus driver dropped us back off at our respective accommodation, but not until he’d made us all sing! A night to remember!
Wow. These posts always look so long, even though I do my best to keep them brief! That’s all for now, another installment in a week or so! Kia Ora!