For this part of the trip we're combining days 5-6! These were probably some of our busiest two days on the entire vacation but also probably some of my FAVORITE. I absolutely adored the North Island of New Zealand!! When we planned this trip, I wanted to see Hobbiton and the Fjordlands- Chris wanted to see Australia. So these few days were a huge part of why we took this trip in the first place! I've even tried to convince Chris that since he's an engineer and a British citizen it wouldn't be that hard for us to get him a work visa and move there, but he isn't too sure about that grand idea of mine :) Enjoy!
PS- See the rest of our trip here if you missed it!
Part I: The Blue Mountains
Part II: Koalas & Kangaroos
Part III: Cairns & Kuranda
Day 5: Arrive in North Island
THIS was probably the part I was most excited for going into the trip. I've wanted to see New Zealand forever and especially the North Island. I come from a small town, but even I wasn't prepared for just how rural New Zealand was. Once you left Auckland, everything closed at 5pm- IF you could find anything at all. Chris and I drove for 3 or 4 hours before we even found a gas station the night we flew in. It was crazy, and we totally hadn't been prepared for that! Everything closes super early and there are SO few people once you leave the city. I'm okay with it though- it's why the country is so pristine. Their country feels so magical because it's still so largely untouched- there was a wildness and a rawness there that you don't see much of in this crazy digitalized world. Everything was blue and green, and you felt like you were in another world.
These are the photos we took the afternoon and evening on the drive from the airport to our hotel in Rotorua!
Day 6 Part 1- Rotorua North Island, New Zealand
Day 5 started out with Rotorua and touring some of the geology of the region. New Zealand has some fascinating environmental history and so we toured one of their Maori thermal villages. It was so worth it- we spent several hours just roaming around bridges that crossed sulfur lakes and hot springs and perfectly teal waters- it was truly fascinating (even if the sulfur smell was pretty strong). We read tons of history about the region and how it was all formed, and since we're total science nerds, we ate it all up.
The BEST part of this trip, though? During the Maori cultural performance they picked a few men from the audience (there were tons of people there!).... and Chris got picked. He had to go up and participate in the Maori dance, and it was AMAZING :) I definitely filmed it on my phone, our GoPro, and took photos......
Day 6 Part II: Blue Springs, Putaruru, North Island, New Zealand
On the way from Rotorua to Hobbiton, we decided that we just HAD to see the Blue Springs- they're famous in New Zealand for having some of the purest water, and over 70% of the bottled water in New Zealand comes directly from this stream. Apparently it takes something like 100 years or longer for the water to travel from one end of the stream to another, because it has to go through so many purifying plants. Our planet is truly AMAZING. This was likely the most stunning natural landscape we saw on this trip- I think my jaw literally dropped. I would live here and never leave if I could.....
Day 6 Part III: Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata, North Island, New Zealand
After exploring Rotorua for half the day and hiking to the Blue Springs, we then drove up to Matamata, New Zealand, where we toured the Hobbiton Movie Set. That was SO worth the entire trip right there! I wasn't expecting much- just a hobbit hole or two. But there were still SO many hobbit holes left that we toured the set for probably an hour or longer while the world's funniest guide cracked jokes about how Chris and I were a new breed because we were too tall to be hobbits or people :) We met some great people on our tour, too- people from all over the world who we got to have a beer with at the end of our tour (seriously- at the end of your tour they take you to the Green Dragon Inn where you get to have a free drink or two!). I watched all the LOTR movies on the plane flight over just so I could be prepared to enjoy this, and I was so glad I did! Chris swore he didn't need to, but he later was jealous because he wished he had so he could remember it all better.
Anyone want to guess how many times I asked Chris if he REALLY wanted to go out that door? You know, because it might be dangerous business..... If you don't get that reference, stop reading right now, do yourself a favor and just go watch all three movies :)