Hobbiton and Beyond!
Hello! Finally got some sort of WiFi to make a quick post for ya! Last we wrote, we were about to embark on our adventure through Middle Earth and into the Shire! Oh. My. Gosh. Ya’ll, it was amazing. It looked just as real and beautiful as we had hoped it would be. We started off in the Shire’s Rest Cafe where we shared “second breakfast” before the tour (it was too early for elevensies). We learned so many fun facts about the filming process and the set during the tour (we’d be happy to share for a small fee. . Or just comment and we’ll gladly answer cause we’re nice). The final thing we got to do was hang out in the Green Dragon at the end with some free drinks in hand, Hobbit-y music, and a cozy fire to warm us from the rain that attacked us near the end of the tour!
Here are some wonderful pictures of Hobbiton captured by the luscious Seth Showalter:
Since Hobbiton we have began our decent through the North Island, making our way to Wellington slowly, but surely. We are house sitting for a couple in Wellington over Christmas to take care of their cat, (thanks to a house sitting site that we became members of) so we need to be there by the 23rd, which is plenty of time, so we’re just cruising around til then! We went to Bowentown and free camped on the bay there, and WE SAW ORCAS. ORCAAASSSS!!!! (That crazy caps lock again. . . ) It was so cool to see them out in the wild instead of in a giant tank, so, so cool. After that we made our way to Taupo which is a fairly popular area for tourists (which made us not want to like it). It actually was a pretty cool town, but what won us over (other than having a place to do our laundry for the first time since vanning) was Lake Taupo where we had one of our favorite free sites. We ended up staying there 3 nights (the longest we’ve ever graced a site with our presence)! Between Taupo and Rotorua (which has some crazy volcanic activity) was a place called Kerosene Creek hot pools. It was literally a creek of hot water being heated by the volcanoes. It smelled crazy sulfur-y, but it felt soooooo goooooooddd. Natures glorious, sulfur-smelling, hot tub.
From there we made our way to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing just to do a couple hours of it (curse those 4 hr. Parking limits) and that was beautiful as well! It was definitely a different terrain from anything we’ve explored so far, but we enjoyed it a lot! We made it to the base of Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, which, for all of you LOTR fans, was used as Mount Doom in the movies! So that was pretty neat! In the 4 hours we were out, we got rained on 2x, hailed on 1x, and then had gorgeous sunny weather in between (and we thought Ohio weather was crazy. .) We are hoping to go back and do the entire trail (19-ish kilometers) in a day, but it really depends on what the weather is going to be like when we get back in the area. Unlike Frodo, we don’t have a ring to destroy, so we don’t have to make the journey if we don’t want to.
After Tongariro, we drove to Napier (which is essentially dozens of wineries with a town attached) and stayed in a free site right on Hawke’s Bay. We walked to a restaurant called the Thirsty Whale, which was the coziest bar/restaurant we have been to. It was all dark mahogany-like wood with Christmas decorations about and a cozy open fire. This place was the first time either one of us really felt like Christmas was close! We haven’t really been feeling the “Christmas Spirit” since it’s so warm and not wintery here, so it was nice to get a little bit of that feeling there! We’ve tried listening to Christmas music, but singing “White Christmas” or “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” doesn’t really feel right when you’re wearing shorts and a tank top by rolling green hills and beaches, ya know?
We drove from Napier to Hastings (more wineries), and drove through to the peak of Mt. Te Mata. There were some glorious views of Hastings on one side, green hills on another side, and the ocean on another (don’t be fooled, we drove to the top like a couple bums). After that we drove to Kiarakua Beach and chilled there for two nights and generally beach-bummed around. We saw some kids throwing washed up jellyfish at each other like snowballs. It felt like the most morbid snowball fight I’ve ever seen. . . Now we are at a cozy little cafe charging up our electronics and enjoying yummy carrot cake and coffee!
Here are some more pics to peruse if you choose: