Day 8: Mount/Hobbiton: November 5th I said to Saare "I don't know what to wear today" he replies "wear your hobbit feet, your wizard staff, and whatever you need to fend off the orcs" bahahaha I almost peed my pants. So dorky and rad. He has been pumped for this all trip. We had homemade coffee and brekky at the baywatch and hit the road! Another beauty windy road to the "tourist farm" and Hobbiton!! We arrived and parked - everything is on lockdown and you can see the gift shop but can only get through the gates on a bus tour. We were quite disappointed that no one was dressed up. Apparently Peter Jackson negotiated with the farmers (Alexander family) for 8 months to reach a contract. He had to sign a confidentiality agreement before he knew which movie would be filmed there - so did the neighbors. It was a no fly zone for 5 km too - 2 pilots were fined and lost licenses permanently for trying to peek. The farm is huge - 500 hectares - full of sheep and cows. We got out and started our tour! There were 44 hobbit holes!! They are all little of varying sizes with tiny firewood and veggie gardens and clothes lines. So cute! and they only open a tiny bit for filming (details were filmed in Welly). They are just a front. We walked up and around where Baggins live (had an awesome LOTR lady whisper "Bagginsis" when she saw it bahahaha. The tree above it was imported from a nearby school in 50 pieces and rebuilt and fake leaves were glued to it as it died. For the hobbit, the tree had to be younger so he made a big fake tree! A spray painted leaf was on the ground and our tour guide gave it to us :) the director had thousands of sheep but imported British ones (with black heads), scared off every bird and frog, and glued fake plums and leaves on trees as he never wanted anyone to question the integrity of the shire which was supposed to be more british than NZ. Wow that was a nerdy sentence. It was weird to see electric wires I the bush because it is so remote - hard to imagine the chaos of filming. Next we made our way to the pub, the green dragon. It is such a cute pub and so rad inside!!! Lovely big wood beams! We drank a stout in the pub and snagged the armchairs by the fireplace. Saare was sooo happy haha. I was too. We made our way back to the mount after a quick side highway picnic and our first go at meat pie (it was from a greasy roadside diner in the middle of knowwhere so pretty mediocre). It was nice so we hit the beach and watched the kite boarders. Then I had a shopping itch so Saare agreed to ten mins in the surf shops. We stopped at the mount brew co for a handle then on our way to one more shop I hear OUCH behind me (kind of like Peter Griffin ouch). Saare had bashed his heel crossing the street. We shopped for a minute then he felt sticky in his flip flop and showed me a sick pool of blood in his flippy!! The cement here is made of rocks and shells. He had snagged his heel on a sharp shell that daggered into his heel!! Gruesome! So we bombed back to the car and I got him some polysporin and plasters (bandaids). The things he'll do to stop me from shopping eh haha . We had a greasy delish "dinner" of buns, olive oil (so good here as the olives are grown and pressed in NZ) and balsamic, cheese, wine, and L&P (lemon and pop rocks)(Mary!!!) chocolate. With a gut ful of rich food, we decided to hike the Mount - a great 1 hr loop with super views of the bay of plenty and coromandel and the town. Loved it! We went to the hot salt water pools right after which are right at the base of the mount. Delightful!! Just chillin now - fireworks as usual. Kiwis are seriously into their fireworks. We've heard them every night! They also say "how ya goin", "sweet as", "thanks, luv" and other awesome things. Apparently today Mary took Walter into the office and he ran right into Saare's office full of hope to find him! Awe! He got lots of treats for that ha❤️
Day 9: Mount/Waitomo/Rotorua: November 6th We happily checked out of the baywatch - Saare was like Wiley coyotes legs out of there!! We drove 2 hrs with a quick flat white stop and arrived at the Waitomo glowworm (glowpoo) caves. We had booked the 11am cave tour - with the promise of waterfalls, zip lines and glow worms, it didn't disappoint! I was nervous - not super comfy in caves! We suited up and took the bus to a hillside, practiced abseiling (rappelling), and then lowered 37m into the cave on our own!! Our guide, Troy, has been discovering new cave systems around Nelson and had just done a 6 night cave adventure filmed by redbull media (same production company as Felix baumgartner the guy who jumped out of that space baloon) so we knew we were in good hands as Troy was rad. We did a zipline in the pitch black down from one cave to the next around glow worms- so cool!! We looked at the glow worms - fly maggots that build hammocks and long fishing lines in the cave ceiling to catch food - their poo glows. They do this for 9 months then live for only 3 days making new babies. We got to launch off a small cliffs into the cave water part with our tube and helmet into the water in the dark. Saare launched a front flip and it looked so awesome that I did the same. More confidence with a wetsuit, helmet and tube around your butt - showed the Brits and 'mericans up. We tubed around, slid down a waterfall, climbed up 2 waterfalls, saw some cave eels and made our way out. It was 5 hrs that went by so fast! Such a cool experience and new love for caves especially with water in them. Our group was awesome - a couple from London who sold everything and were traveling the world and a couple from Florida travelling NZ by bus. We drove to Rotorua and quick grocery stop then arrived at the bookabach Saare booked online. This pad should seriously be in a magazine. It is soooo gorgeous! We have huge sliding doors from living room to deck and a big patio overlooking lake rototiti (-attached to lake Rotorua). The kitchen is beautiful too and we enjoyed a wood fire and some tunes, Saare spanked me at rummy (and I pouted). Also - we watched the news. NZ is revisiting their drunk driving laws. Their current limit is insane. It allows for a man Saare's size to have 8-10 pints in a dinner and still drive. WHAT!! Or a big guy = 12 pints. Newly scared. The new laws would allow for 4ish pints for a man over 2h, still quite a bit but people are up in arms just like they were in BC. Also, baby sheep have tails but adults don't. Trying to solve that mystery!
Day 10: Rotorua: November 7th Mountain biking day at Whakarewarewa Forest!!!! We had delish brekky in our pimpy lake pad then went out to bike. It was rainy but we did not care. We rode beauty giant bikes and hit a bunch of great single track trails "be rude not to" "Katere jumps" "genesis" (as recommended by redbull Troy) "littleddipper" we had so much fun ripping through fern Forrest's, pumice dirt, everything. We had a much earned flat white and sandwich and hauled our wet muddy bodies to the grocery store! Then we went back to the lake house and it was serious relaho time. Stu, our wonderful host who built the magazine worthy place we stayed, was going to take us to his secret local hot pools in his boat but the storm came in from the wrong side so boat was no go and the lake would have been pounding the hot pools. Bummer!! Instead I had a jacuzzi which is in the bedroom with lake views while Saare showered. This may sound bad, but we put on the earphones and Saare watched ski movies and I watched new girl... For hours... While drinking beers... In bed/on couch. Then we mad an all NZ DINNER - lamb, Greek salad. So yummy! Lamb is super cheap here, and also really tasty - the store bought lamb is everybit as good as our farm raised lamb in vic we get each year. Saare inhaled a bunch of cave water while doing our front flips and he is sure that Gollem is living in his sinuses now so he had Advil and called er a night early. I wasn't far behind once I peeled myself away from the whittakers chocolate. Seriously that stuff is so good but I don't know why they have to make chocolate bars the the size of my iPad!!!!! We have seen so many sheep on the hills - babies, big ones, little ones, and they love the steeps!!
Day 11: Rotorua/Gisbourne (Gizzy): November 8th We left Rotorua a little later than planned as Saare went to the general store to get cash only to have to go all the way to Rotorua. I chatted with Stu who actually built the place we stayed. Amazing. We drove down the eastern coast and stopped for lunch at a gorgeous beach near Whakatane - the rest stops are just dirt roads that lead right down to the beach and you would think you can just drive on the beach but there are signs not to - go figure. We ate on the tailgate and them drove 4 hrs to Gisbourne. Long trip! Gizzy is the easternmost tip of NZ and because it is so close to the international date line it is the first place in the world to see the sunrise of e new day. Cool! To see it - you have to stay overnight half way up a mountain then get up at 3am to catch it. Probably not happening. We arrived and checked in and went to a surf shop - not a great swell right now and apparently has been bad for weeks. We bombed up the coast to check out Makorori beach and another one recommended by the shop owner. There were a few surfers but we just looked - a bit wavy and the swell was unpredictable. Rocks in the water. We came back and went out for a pub crawl along the inner port which had a bunch of spots surrounding the boats in harbour. We hit happy hour (5-6) for $5 pints at the first and second stop and enjoyed in the sun on benches outside. Next we hit another fishing club which are everywhere in NZ. We ordered our beers at the bar but we needed to be members to drink there, or a member would need to sponsor us. Haha poor Jim happened to be right beside us and was a shy guy but agreed to sign for us. So rad! We bought him a Tui handle for that (which was only $3.50). Tui is NZ's Canadian. I saw a cast of a crawfish caught that was tiny compared to the one we saw diving. Cool. Said bye and thanks to Jim and his family and onto the wine centre. We had a Gisbourne green there and an appy plate with all sorts of good stuff. We circled back to the first spot and had dinner and a good talk about how the travelling is going and how differently we approach things naturally, yet how well it *usually* works because we have the same goals in the end. Good talk team ❤️
Day 12: Gizzy: November 9th We had brekky, checked email, and I talked to mom today on viber today! Worked so well - crazy to be talking to mom yesterday hehe. Surf is bad again today - super windy and choppy :( to be tried again in hawkes bay or Dunedin in the south. We picked up a fishing rod at the NZ equiv to Stupidstore, 'warehouse' and headed out to Cooks Cove to Tolaga bay wharf. Spectacular place!! It was built when cpt cook and the Europeans first arrived and had to be rebuilt for 5.5 million when the pillars started rotting. The pier was huge, with straight up drop offs either side and end. And a wind that was knocking us around haha so sketch. Makes us seem like sissies with our fenced breakwater. Saare fished and I took pictures, I cast a few, we saw a kid catch a crawfish (so rare! It just got tangled in his line haha - got a cute pic). Saare insists the wind and big waves meant no fish. I actually agree :) we stopped at a beach to sip a brew on the tailgate (yes our beer guts are growing) - a fave activity. Now. It is time to confess. Gizzy is a weird town. We walked around tonight convinced we were in a zombie apocalypse. The downtown was absolutely empty. Like government street sized and No one on the streets. And everything is closed except an Indian a Chinese and a Japanese restaurant that were deserted. It is super eerie and we even took pictures. So we got a flatty from a closed cafe, and went to see captain Phillips at the odeon with 4 other people in the theatre. Good movie - intense! We poped out of the theatre to see absolutely no one but a really creepy homeless man (and we have our share at home). Then our vibe of Gizzy just kept tanking... Empty streets, bad surf, closed eats haha. We found a packed spot by our hotel which was equally weird and had good eats and wine and live guitar by a massive maori dude. Slightly redeeming. Anyways - we will be outta here early am to get to Hawkes bay. Sayanora Gizz!