Little Golden Notebook

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NZ Day 9 (actually day 11): First Sunrise & Sunset of 2017 Hobbiton, Rotorua

New Year’s Day, probably our busiest day of the whole trip, we got up at 4am to drive from Auckland to Hobbiton, which is really the only reason I saw the sun rise. Seventeen of us including Melanie  (our ever patient host) and her sister Gloria tetrised into 3 cars with luggage enough to last through Wednesday. And off we went.

We arrived at Hobbiton just in time for our tour, which takes about 1.5 hours, not including the short bus ride. I loved the tour, except they really hustle you through it; they have 2500ish people going through daily, so in a way it’s understandable that you can’t just dawdle around. Here some of my pics, starting with the sheep I hadn’t seen much of during our travels in the north – Hobbiton is smack dab in the middle of a large sheep farm.

I have a lot (and I do mean a lot) more pictures of flowers and Hobbit home doors of the Shire on flickr. Melanie and Gloria didn’t go on the tour with us; we miscounted the number of tickets needed, so they graciously had coffee and waited for us at the visitor’s center, which has a café and gift shop. Lucky for me, they got to see the sheep being herded and had the forethought to capture the video.

After the tour, we made good use of the visitors center, including the gift shop (They sell yarn! Yarn made with wool grown on the farm! Hobbit yarn!), we hit the road again and went to Rotorua, known for spas and volcanic activity, where we planned to spend Sunday and Monday nights. The spa that Melanie wanted to take us to was closed because it was New Year’s day, so we ended up at the Whakarewarewa Forest, a Redwood forest. NZ redwoods are similar to California Redwoods, but the NZ species is a fast-growing softwood while the California species is a slow-growing hardwood. Whakarewarewa Forest has lots of activities, including a free hike that several people opted to go on (which I should have done – I would have enjoyed it more) and a tree walk that you have to pay for. The tree walk is a suspension bridge path linking California Redwoods trees with platforms around their trunks. Each of the platforms has educational placards and there is an art installation of lights throughout the walk by David Trubridge. Although we didn’t go at night, the lights were still really neat.

David Trubridge Light Sculptures
My husband taking a picture of some of the kids jumping on a Redwood log

We then drove to our motel and checked in. I wish I had taken pictures; the rooms were more like what I would think of as ski chalets, and the building did look vaguely European. Each room was really more like an apartment, with two floors. On the first floor there was a kitchenette, a couch and TV, a small breakfast bar, a queen size bed, and a large bathroom with a spa built into the floor. The spa had a large metal cover on it and though that was closed, we could still smell the sulfur from it and feel the warmth from it in the surrounding bathroom tiles. On the second floor, there was a half bath, another queen size bed, and two twin size beds. Grand accommodations except for the sulfur smell, but the smell permeates the town and, to be honest, didn’t really bother me much. Others in our party were not so lucky.

Having dumped our luggage in the motel, we backtracked a bit to Skyline Rotorua, which has a gondola ride up Mount Ngongotaha to a visitors center that includes a short hiking trail, a restaurant (where we had dinner reservations) and a luge, which to me is an alpine slide. (I grew up in Vermont and have been to the alpine slides, now closed, at Pico in Killington many times). Unfortunately, they were have problems with one of the luges and weren’t selling tickets to it. Off we went to Ogo, which we passed on the way into town. Ogo is the original ball rolling or zorbing adventure, and several in our party wanted to try it. After a quick trip back to the motel for bathing suits, a bunch of people (not me) did try it. My husband took all the pictures of that adventure – it was chilly and rainy at that point and I don’t think I would’ve gotten any good shots. Then we went back to Skyline Rotorua, rode up the gondola, and had a delicious meal overlooking Rotorua & Lake Rotorua.

The view from Mt Ngongotaha

After dinner, we walked a bit around downtown Rotorua, poking around in the Rotorua Government Gardens, which includes a few hot springs and the Prince’s Arch and Gateway. We also walked a few blocks to Lake Rotorua, where we watched the sun set (I should have taken more pictures) and saw black swans. What a day!

Rotorua Gov’t Gardens
Part of the Prince’s Arch & Gateway


Another part of the Prince’s Arch & Gateway
Seaplanes on Lake Rotorua, Sunset
Black Swan
Stone lion with lots of moss outside the Princes Gate Hotel


11 responses to “NZ Day 9 (actually day 11): First Sunrise & Sunset of 2017 Hobbiton, Rotorua”

  1. Such adventures! You must share photos of the hobbit yarn project. I’ve never seen a black swan in the flesh ❤️

    1. Weeeelllllll, I gave the Hobbit yarn to one of my friends – I know I should’ve gotten 2 sets (it came in a box of 3 with a scarf pattern), but I didn’t. And the black swans were really neat; we saw more two days after in Taupo, which I’ll hopefully write about in the next day or two.

  2. That looks like just my kind of trip! I love seeing natural wonders – didn’t realize redwoods grew elsewhere either. I thought they were only in California…

    1. They were really cool to see! I was distracted though; we had a group behind us with a child who wanted to race through the tree walk and a group in front of us that wanted to take a selfie every 2 minutes. I got distracted by being the filling in this conflict sandwich – that’s why I think the hike would’ve been more enjoyable; I wouldn’t have been trapped between two groups of people going at different paces.

  3. PaperPuff Avatar

    You are a great tourist! But hobbit yarn, wow! Who knew hobbits were being farmed commercially?!!

    1. lol It’s all that fur on their feet – a never-ending supply that must be shorn weekly. (Ew!)

      1. PaperPuff Avatar

        I can never erase that mental image now….

  4. This is so, so fabulous (and I need to catch up on your NZ posts I’ve missed!) This really makes me miss NZ. I went to Roturura the first time I visited, but did not do quite so much as you. It’s an interesting place! At first, I found the sulphur smell very strong, but I found I got used to it pretty quickly! Thanks for taking the time to share your trip 😀

    1. I really need to finish writing about the last few days of the trip before I forget the details. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the posts!

  5. You made it to Hobbiton!!! Wow! Loving the photo essays 🙂

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