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New Zealand Wrap-up

That's right, last post of NZ! (Unless I think of something else...)

This is a miscellaneous collection of pictures and maybe brief stories from the North Island that didn't fit anywhere else.

While in Hawke's Bay we drove up to the lookout and there were some gorgeous views!

While in Hawke's Bay, you have to go to at least a couple winerys and do some wine tasting. We went to a couple places, and one gave us a tour which was interesting to learn about some of the wine making process.

In Gisborne we dragged ourselves out of bed quite early in the morning to see the sunrise. Sunrises are cool but the special point of this one was that Gisborne is the first town in the world to see the sunrise!

Our hostel was right across the street from the water, so we had gorgeous views from our bedroom window...

Just outside of Gisborne there's the longest pier in the southern hemisphere. Well cool. We had to go check it out! At 660m (almost a quarter mile!) in length, it offers a nice walk out over the water and several fishing and jumping activities, if you're into that sort of thing.

We drove up to the northern tip of the north island and did a tour to Cape Reinga. Our bus driver was crazy, but it was cheap for New Zealand and we got to see a lot.

This involved everything from hiking to a lighthouse which is the official northern most point.

To seeing the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean

There were neat views and beaches below...

We stopped by some huge sand dunes, for those that wanted to climb up and sand board down.

And our bus went off roading and drove down 90 Mile Beach (though it's really only 55 miles or so)

Our last stop before Auckland was the Kauri forest. These Kauri trees are the largest in New Zealand and roughly 2,000 years old!!

This concludes the New Zealand adventure, now it's back to Australia and on to new places and adventures. (Unless of course I realize I've forgotten something important about New Zealand, then I'll be sure to add it). We covered a lot of ground in New Zealand with 3 different vehicles and over 8,000km driven, and we slept in 32 different beds in 55 days.

Relocation Roadtrip

Relocation Roadtrip

South Island Roadtrip

South Island Roadtrip

North Island Roadtrip

North Island Roadtrip

We'll certainly miss New Zealand!!!

Posted by smr1188 15:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged trees tours sunrise new_zealand lighthouse winery roadtrip north_island summary Comments (2)

The Rock

A night on the water

First, a quick story before the story.

Our day started when we woke up and realized that our car wouldn't start. Uh oh. After awhile, we determined that the battery was dead because a light was left on. Oops. So we popped the hood and stood there looking helpless till this guy in a truck came to our rescue. Totally cliche. After we got it started, he told us we needed to drive around for 45 minutes to charge it. Great, no problem. Except we were in a small town and didn't have anywhere specific we wanted to go. So instead of driving in circles we actually stopped and picked up a hitchhiker. We offered to drive him at a half an hour or less in the direction he was hoping to go. There was a bit of a language barrier though, so despite our explanation of 'just needing to drive the car but don't need to go anywhere', I don't think he really understood what was going on. In the end we did help him out and gave him a ride to the next (slightly larger) town over. We were between Auckland and the northern tip of the north island in a town called Paihia, as shown on the map below.

Luckily, out of all the days of our roadtrip on the North Island, this was the only day where we weren't driving early in the morning, or really needing to drive at all, we had booked an overnight "Adventure Cruise" on a houseboat! We were to be picked up at 5, so we'd just planned on relaxing most of that day anyway.

You can see the houseboat waiting for us out in the harbour.


The Rock is a houseboat that runs sort of a floating hostel. At 5pm we were picked up from the dock and we had 22 hours on the boat, returning around 3pm the next day. In that short time we did tons of activities and because it's a small space, made friends with all those on board, only around 20 people including a couple crew members. By the time 3pm the next day came around I was ready to hide away on the boat!

When we got on the boat, we were introduced to the crew and got the tour of the place. There was everything from a bar and pool table, to a piano and guitars.


We were in a 6 bed room, with an awesome view. Every room on the boat has a view like this!


Our first activity as we headed out of the harbour involved a paintball gun and a plastic duck...yes that's right. They towed the duck, Matilda, behind the boat and everyone got 3 shots to try to hit it. The best shot got a free drink from the bar. Having never shot a paintball gun there really wasn't much hope for me, but it was certainly fun!

Next up was fishing. Pretty much everyone on board except myself grabbed a line and tried to catch some dinner.

I spent the time exploring the ship and enjoying the sunset.





Dinner was a mixture of bbq, salads, and pasta and everyone sat at one long table, chatting with their neighbors.

After dinner we got out the kayaks and took turns paddling out to see the phosphorescence which is always a lot of fun. The kayaks were sit on top though, so everyone got a little wet from paddling, so luckily there was a fire (a fire on a boat!) to warm up to when we got back.


Early morning risers were treated to a boatride ashore for a hike and a gorgeous sunrise view. I hate to admit I didn't make it up for this, I tried, I really did, but it wasn't happening. At least my camera made the journey though!




After breakfast we headed over to a good snorkeling spot, Mussel Rock, and everyone jumped in to see what they could see. There were wetsuits for hire, but I thought I could tough it out. Mistake. But it was still a lot of fun seeing fish I hadn't seen before.


We stopped at another island where we could kayak ashore, hike up to a viewpoint, and hang out at the beach some.







It was great exploring a bit around the Bay of Islands, they claim there's 144 Islands, though they count rocks in the water as islands. There's only 25 or so islands that you can actually get out and walk around on. Luckily we had gorgeous weather for it too!

Definately a highlight of our New Zealand trip, I'd recommend it to anyone looking to get out on the water and for something different!

Posted by smr1188 06:03 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats ocean hostels new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (4)

Lord of the Rings in NZ

Not all who wander are lost

Lord of the Rings settings: If you're not into the movies or books, you can skip this post :)

Since the entirety of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand, there's a lot of places you can go that resemble scenes from the movies. Though no sets (aside from Hobbiton) remain, the landscape is gorgeous and almost always recognizable as a scene from the movie, depending how well you know the movies!

Wellington Airport:

Sometimes it's impossible to get to the location as there were several that required the cast and crew to be flown in via helicopters, and sometimes it's just 24km down a dirt road...like these pictures from Edoras.



Sometimes there's a path that's well signed, like these just outside of Wellington.


And sometimes it takes a bit of recalling from the movie and guesswork, or just acknowledging that it was 'somewhere around here that this scene was filmed'.




Posted by smr1188 19:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand lotr movies roadtrip north_island lord_of_the_rings Comments (2)

A Hobbit's Tale

There and Back Again

Of course traveling through New Zealand is like traveling through the Lord of the Rings set. You might just happen to drive by Mount Doom and through the Misty Mountains on an ordinary day. But, for an extraordinary day, a visit to Hobbiton is in order.

IMG_1523.jpg P1160529.jpg

Though the price is steep and the only way to see it is with a tour, it's well worth it. With the tour you hear a lot about the filming of the movies there and how particular Sir Peter Jackson was with the details. Everything from having the crew tie on leaves to a tree that didn't have the right leaves, to spray painting other leaves when the sun had faded them too much. There are several full time gardeners are there, and during filming one guy's job was keeping the grass at the appropriate height.

The location scouting crew first flew over the property, then stopped by for a closer look. Then they handed the landowners a check, disclosure agreement, and said 'take a holiday'. Jackson had asked the government for money for the movies and though he was denied, they did offer him the New Zealand Army to help him build the road through the farm. The Army was also not allowed to talk about what was happening, so locals were left to wonder why the Army was building a road through a nearby farm. The land was also declared a 'no fly' zone so it wasn't until the first movie actually came out and the locals recognized the landscape, that people realized what had been going on.

The initial deal with the landowners was that the land would be returned to its' original condition when they were done filming. However, New Zealand weather got in the way of that plan, and the structures stayed long enough for people to start stopping by the farm and asking to see them. The landowners realized it might be better to keep the hobbit holes.

Sidenote: how cool would it be to have hobbit holes on your property?!?!

Initially there were only 6 or so hobbit doors, but after the movies became a success and more were to be filmed, the builders came back and turned what was there into permanent structures and added some more, so now there are 44 doors.

Unfortunately the inside filming took place on a set in Wellington so these don't actually go into the earth, but it was still amazing to walk through Hobbiton! I did my best to take pictures of all 44 doors as well, so enjoy!











Bilbo's home:

The Green Dragon:

Ok, I admit it...I want one.

Posted by smr1188 05:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand hobbiton lotr movies roadtrip north_island lord_of_the_rings Comments (2)


A sailing adventure!

What shall we do in Taupo? We wondered as we drove into town. Lake Taupo is roughly the same size as Singapore...if anyone knows how big Singapore is. Upon checking in at the hostel we noticed a sign for discounted sailing adventure on Fearless. Hey, why not?! We crossed our fingers that the weather would be good and we could get a spot on the boat for the following day.


The next day we headed down to the docks and secured our spot on the boat. I knew we'd made the right choice when I saw there were bean bag chairs on deck! If I ever have a sailboat, it'll definitely have bean bag chairs on deck.


We headed out onto the water and set sail. What a gorgeous day.


Our main destination was the Maori rock carvings that could be seen from the water. Though not ancient, they were still very impressive.


There was time for a classic Titanic pose and one person even went swimming!

We also had a nice chat with another American onboard! After sailiing we all hiked over to Huka Falls together.

Posted by smr1188 17:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls culture sailing new_zealand roadtrip north_island Comments (2)

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