Hobbits, the Haka and a seven metre drop waterfall

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Our next destination on the north island was Rotorua - and it was our most action packed place so far! My mum and dad very kindly treated us to a couple of trips, including a visit to Lord of The Rings' famous Hobbiton and a traditional Maori feast at Tamaki village. This post is gonna be all about our adventures in Rotorua - including Craig's valentines surprise for me...

I'm gonna start with our day trip to Hobbiton. Before coming to New Zealand I can't say I was too bothered about visiting Hobbiton (the film set for The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit) baring in mind I have never been a huge diehard fan, I was only 7 when the films came out! However it's hard to avoid watching the films when you're backpacking through New Zealand as all the hostels have copies of the DVD's and it would be rude not to right? So since visiting NZ you'll be pleased to know I have become a fan and was actually really excited about visiting Hobbition. The tour itself was really great - our guide was passionate and knowledgable about both the films and the set - she showed us exact places where different parts of the film were captured and talked in depth about the productions and making of Hobbition. The hobbit holes themselves were ADORABLE - I couldn't resist taking a picture of every single one! Something that was really interesting to see was the fake oak tree built above Baggins. The director Peter Jackson wanted to stay as true to the books as possible so brought in a team of people to create the tree. Each leaf was sewn on individually to the hand made branches, it took around 10 months to make yet only featured in the film for around 5 seconds! Jackson's perfectionism really made the films what they were and made Hobbiton feel like a real life miniature village. We finished up the tour having a pint in The Green Dragon, which was exactly how you see it in the films! Whether or not you're a Lord of the Rings fan, definitely pay Hobbition a visit - being on the movie set for one of the most groundbreaking cult movies from the last 15 years was a magical experience.

Maori Village
This was an unforgettable trip! When visiting a new place I believe it's important to learn about that countries history and culture, and that's exactly what we did when we visited Tamaki village. Again this trip was organised perfectly, from the hilarious bus driver who took us there, to the wonderful Maori family who welcomed us, educated us, entertained us and cooked for us! The evening commenced with a traditional Maori welcome ceremony, where our tour group elected a chief who had to present himself to the Maori tribe and take part in the ceremony - during the ceremony you had to stand very still and not smile, laugh or mimic the Maori warriors. Once accepted into the village we were shown different Maori traditions - the boys even learnt the Haka although it wasn't quite the same as watching the all blacks do it. To finish off the evening we were invited to watch the tribe sing and dance whilst our meal was prepared for us. Our meal was cooked using a hangi, which involves a pit of hot volcanic rock buried in a pit in the ground, it gives the food a delicious smokey flavour. The food was actually really great, with loads of yummy veggie options for myself and Craig. Having just come from Fiji I noticed a lot of similarities between the two different cultures - both have very tight family bonds, both use music and dance as a big part of their expression and lifestyle. I really enjoyed learning all about Maori culture and feel it should be top on everyone's list if you ever visit Rotorua.

White Water Rafting
So Valentine's Day was soon approaching and whilst most of you were being taken to a fancy restaurant or receiving flowers and a card my legend of a boyfriend decided to book us in for a grade 5 white water rafting course down the biggest commercial waterfall in the world! I was super excited, if not a little nervous, but ever since I knew I was coming to New Zealand I wanted to try out white water rafting. We went with the company Rotorua Rafting, and the guys that took us out on the river were amazing - made you feel super safe and made it such a laugh. The river itself, Kaituna, was beautiful - you felt like your were rafting through a scene on The Jungle Book. As for adrenaline the river was full of it, loads of waterfalls along the way and a few rapids too, however the big one was the 7metre drop one towards the end! Although we did nearly flip our raft we survived, and it was so much fun, I wanted to do it all over again! Be prepared to get completely soaked and have tones of laughs if you ever brave Kaituna river.

So that's our action packed visit to Rotorua - three different activities in 2 days! Rotorua itself was a cool little town, not much to do in the actual centre of town, apart from a few touristy shops and cafes. The place itself smells a tad eggy due to the sulphur from the natural hot springs but after a while you get used to it. Rotorua is definitely the place to visit if you want the full New Zealand experience!

Elly X

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