Matamata/Rotorua

Saturday, February 10, 2007

On Thursday February 8th we left Hamilton and drove to the town of Matamata, where we took a Hobbiton tour to see where parts of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed.  Most of Hobbiton was dismantled after filming was completed, but the hobbit holes are still there.  We took photos of the Party Tree (which was one of the critical factors in choosing this location for filming), the pretty farmland and numerous sheep.  We are LOTR fans,and enjoyed hearing all the details of building Hobbiton and the filming there.  We are anxious to watch The Fellowship of the Ring when we get home so we can identify the things we saw.

After the tour we drove into Rotorua and visited the thermal area called Hell’s Gate.  George Bernard Shaw gave it that name when he visited.  There is a lot of thermal activity around Rotorua, and Hell’s Gate is unique in that it is gray/black in color.  You can have a mud spa there.  We then checked in at our farmstay before heading to a Maori concert and feast in Tamaki Maori Village.  People from all over the world were at the Maori concert.  At dinner we sat across from a couple from Argentina and next to a couple from England.  It was an interesting evening.  On Friday the 9th we took a ride up the Mt.  Tarawera volcano in a 4-wheel drive vehicle with three other couples.  It was a bumpy ride, but the view was well worth it.  The volcano last erupted in 1886, buried villages and killed over 150 people.  The weather was perfect for our visit to the crater, as you can tell from the pictures.  After this tour, we went to another thermal area, a very colorful one called Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland.  With all the minerals in the water, it is very pretty, and yes, Devil’s Bath is really that green! We drove into Rotorua and saw the beautiful museum and gardens (pictured above).  From there we went to a scenic area near town where we took pictures of Lake Tarawera and Blue Lake.  We capped off the day with a bottle of wine and a great steak dinner at a restaurant in town that our homestay host recommended.  We left Te Ana Farmstay on Saturday the 10th after a wonderful breakfast of fruit, muffins, eggs florentine with salmon, juice and coffee prepared by our host (yesterday she prepared a bacon and egg breakfast for us).  This is included in the price of the B & B, which is about $90 U.S. per night. Not a bad deal!  We drove from the farmstay to the town of Wanganui, where we are spending the night.  We had hoped to see Mt. Ruapehu on the way, but the mountain was covered in clouds and it rained there but was sunny the rest of the drive.  We hope the weather is better on the mountain in a few days when we are again in the area of the national park.  We now are doing laundry in our hotel as we work on our blog.

Hobbiton

Hobbiton - a working sheep farm

Hobbiton - The Party Tree

Us looking into Bilbo Baggins hobbit hole

Hell's Gate - a hot waterfall

Hell's Gate

Hell's Gate

Tamaki Maori Village

Tamaki Maori Village

Tamaki Maori Village

Our guide Charlie at Mt Tarawera

Another volcano in background

Mt Tarawera

Mt Tarawera Crater

Waiotapu Thermal Area - Artist’s Palette

Waiotapu - Primrose Terrace

Waiotapu - Lake Ngakoro

Waiotapu Thermal Area - Artist’s Palette

Waiotapu - View from Artist's Palette

Waiotapu - Devil's Bath

View from house - Te Ana Farmstay, Rotorua

Rotarua Museum

Lake Tarawera (Mt. Tarawera in background)

Blue Lake

© Jay Deitch 2020