Not fussed on hanging around and with so much to do we make tracks for Taupo early.
It's off to discover hot springs and the "craters of the moon" today. We decide to start at the tourist info spot to get a better grasp on our route. The lady there does our head in quite quickly promoting expensive tours we just want info on what's free really being on a budget - her response "nothing is free" we grab a map and head off.
We make tracks firstly to the occupied Maori village of Ohinemutu, you can walk around at no cost and see the impressive traditional wood carvings and meeting house. It's quiet but lovely and then it's off to see the "craters of the moon" basically this island has lots of geothermal activity resulting in clouds of steam escaping from the land and drains. This particular area has grown in activity rapidly over the past 50 years. As we walk around it's literally like a steamy swamp with hazardous signs everywhere reminding people that "steam burns" we do the 45 minute walk and head off north in search of a natural spring we have been tipped on from a fellow tourist.
Matt finds the place no problem and it's amazing!! It's a hot stream set in the woods and it's free!! Loads of people head to the paid ones not knowing about this hidden gem and were delighted to see there's only 30 odd people enjoying the area.
It's so hot like 40 degrees but beautiful! We chill for an hour and head off north again looking for a rest stop at Hobbiton - so excited!!!
We find Matamata the town that hosts The Hobbits movie set. The town is obviously proud of it's claim with a beautiful Hobbiton style information centre, that's closed, and a sign welcoming us to Matamata. You can immediately see why Jackson chose this place on the drive through, proper distinctive rolling hills in the shape of Hobbiton homes, ideal.
We can't find the rest stop though but Jacq spots a Hobbiton tour bus dropping people off so asks the driver if he knows it - naturally he does and he asks us to follow him to the stop.
It's a good 15 minutes drive out of town to the main movie set area and we are delighted it appears to be so unknown. The drivers name is Mike and he's a fellow musician off to do a gig in a while, we get chatting and Matt announces well go see him play after dinner.
Jacqs off to to a wash in the Hobbiton sets loos, using sinks not toilets folks!, And Matts on dishes duty before we head off - yes Jacq washed our undies in the Hobbiton loos! Needs must folks!
Mikes playing a 21st birthday in a pub in Te Poi called the Tavern and tradition states the birthday boy must sink a yard of ale so it's great craic watching the commotion outdoors. Mike plays mostly country style music which is a big deal over here and he's very good at it - after a pint we head back unable to sleep with excitement for tomorrow!