After the Tongariro crossing we drove directly to Rotorua, home of boiling mud pools, spuming geysers and, well, a truly horrible smell. You sort of get used to it, but one strong gust of wind and a sulphurous stank is up again. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, a bold but ultimately failed attempt at nominative determinism.
We just had one full day in Rotorua, so we headed out to see the big geysers and the Maori workshops at Te Whakarewarewa (full name significantly longer). The delicate bone carving and weaving is a nice counterpoint to the hourly rumbling explosion of hot Te Puia, or the bibbly-bubbling of mud.
The next day we went to Hobbiton. More precisely, we went to Matamata, halfway between Rotorua and Hamilton. From what was once just an idyllic farm and film set , a permanent (and, it would seem, extremely profitable) recreation of the Hobbit village has been installed, with holes of many sizes, vegetable patches, the party tree, the mill and the working pub – the Green Dragon. With over two thousand tourists sampling a draft each day, it is officially New Zealand’s busiest pub.
It’s a really great trip, and after traipsing through the country for views of where they filmed (often drastically altered in post – production) it’s good to visit the permanent reminder.
The next day we headed south from Hamilton to the glow worm caves of Waitomo for a spot of relaxing abseiling, flying fox, tubing and free-climbing up waterfalls. In the dark. It was pretty awesome. Then it was off to Auckland for the last stop off the trip.