Yes, I know I said I’d be posting in the weeks ahead, and it’s not almost two weeks since I last published a post on this blog. Unfortunately, life decided to get involved, and I’ve had to move at very short notice. I’m just settling down now into the new place, so I have the time to spend a bit of time with a (metaphorical) pen in hand. So, here we have at the first post on my trip to New Zealand, over a month later now.
Our trip to New Zealand began in Auckland. We arrived at approximately 3pm at the international airport, and from there we picked up our rental car and headed in to the city. The airport is fairly close to the centre of the city, which was pretty helpful to a new traveller to the region. On the day all we did was head to our hostel, grab some dinner and hit the sack.
First of all, the hostel. We stayed at Nomads Fat Camel on Fort St. And what can I say, you really get what you pay for, which in the end wasn’t a great deal. The whole place smelt pretty bad, especially the common area (I had to cover my face whenever walking through, lest I start to feel ill). The bed was probably among the worst I’ve ever slept on (a crappy sofa bed would probably rate above the bed we had). It was fairly convenient to the city though, and the staff were quite friendly. Regardless of this, I wouldn’t stay there again. From speaking to the locals they seemed to rate Nomads fairly highly, so maybe we just got a dodgy level or were staying at the worst of their hostels.
On Day 2, we did a guided tour to the Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton. First of all, to anyone thinking of doing this, I’d recommend doing it out of Rotorua – it was quite a long way away from Auckland, and comparatively much closer to Rotorua. I blame our travel agent for this, but despite this I actually quite enjoyed the long trip. Our tour operator was a friendly guy who was more than happy to give us a lesson on New Zealand’s past and present, and was more than happy to make witty remarks on the political and social climate of the country, followed by a short pause then “…but anyway.”
Waitomo Caves was a little underwhelming to be honest, but only because I’ve done similar things back here in Australia which were much bigger. The caves themselves are a limestone cave, complete with glowworms in parts. There’s an interesting history to the caves, to. Tours were originally done by the local Maori, but in 1904 or 1905 the land was acquired by the Crown, who began to do their own tours. From what I was told about this by the tour operator, it doesn’t seem to be a move than anyone is particularly proud of. In 1989, the cave was returned to the descendants of its original owners, many of whom help with the tours to this day.
From the Waitomo Caves we headed to Hobbiton, which is the thing I’d really been interested in. I’m a bit of a Lord of The Rings nerd (though as I love both but personally prefer the movies to the books I suppose I can’t really say that after all), and from what I was thinking before leaving Australia, this was to be my favourite attraction of the trip. It certainly didn’t let me down. Built in the middle of the privately owned Alexander Farm, Hobbiton has been built twice. It was constructed for the Lord of The Rings films, and was partially deconstructed at the end of filming, leaving some aspects of the film set standing. However, when a larger Hobbiton was rebuilt for The Hobbit, it was able to be kept standing as it was presented in the films. It was a pretty awesome experience strolling through Hobbiton, from Bilbo’s House down to the Party Tree and across to the Green Dragon where we had a glass of cider on the house.
The worst part of what was an otherwise excellent day was trip back to Auckland. It was a long, long trip and by the time we were back at the bus station all we really wanted to do was to fall asleep.