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Day 3 & 4 - Getting the camper, first waterfall & Hobbiton

"I feel that as long as the shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable!"


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Today was the day for us to pick up our campervan; our transport and home for the next 22 days. Anxiety kicked in about having to drive this huge monster and we had peppered Shane with questions about driving in NZ and driving an automatic. As Andy had only just passed his test two weeks before i was up first for driving. Although the van isn't that huge in reality, the fact you could probably fit our little Cleo inside is daunting. Yet once behind the wheel it was actually alright- the roads are so much wider than the UK. And I have to say I love driving an automatic. So many less things to think about. I've already told Stew our next car will not be a manual!

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After he finished work Shane took us to our first waterfall in the evening; for him a stroll, for us a hike with intense work out! Getting to the top was totally worth it (after getting our breathe back). Tempted to jump in the water pools at the top, even just to cool down, we took the view in before heading down to the bottom of the waterfall to admire it from all angles. We also stopped off at our beach. Getting back to Auckland having stopped for a burger, we settled in for our first night in van (which was parked on the street outside of Shane's house).

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Day 4- Our short time in Auckland is up, as we headed South to The Shire. Shane planned another waterfall ‘walk’ (hike) for us, hitting 10k steps before 10am (didn’t even get the Fitbit rocket!). This time we took Santa with us to enjoy the scenery. A dancing Santa is board shorts was a present from Shane to help us feel more at home in our summer Christmas. He is now our official tour mascot. I must say it was nice and refreshing to be out in nature so early. After a little picnic, courtesy of ‘Subway du Shane’ we continued on to Hobbiton.

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I (Andy) was really excited for Hobbiton. After all New Zealand is the land of Lord of the Rings! And the place was magical and hard to believe that around 95% of the landscape for the films was real. It was fun to use your imagination and picture life as a Hobbit as you got lost in the scenery. However I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by the experience. I expected more information about the films and how they were made but instead it appeared to be just endless amount of photo opportunities next to tiny doors. Which the Chinese group on our tour took full advantage of with about 15 photos at each stop, each with their own unique range of poses! As I've highlighted the site and the tour was cool but not really the full experience I was looking for. We were informed of a studio tour in Wellington which I'm hoping more lives up to expectation.

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Over beers in the Green Dragon, naturally, we decided on a nearby campsite located in Mclaren Falls and stopped off for bbq supplies en route. For £5 each this site was value for money. The place was just gorgeous and everything we wanted. It made us again thankful to have the van and the freedom that came with it to just pick and stop at these remote places with ease. As we thought we hadn't done enough walking yet we explored the site (hitting the 24k step mark) before dinner. Dinner was lamb burgers and ribs saturated in bbq sauce, yum! During our earlier explore we identified this place had a glow worm forest! In the pitch black equipped with our head torch (that Izzy said I wouldn't use!) we went on the hunt. Bumping into two friendly Germans, who were also in search, we clambered over fields and through forest before we got our first glimpse. We were very excited, having never seen glow worms. It was an amazing walk, filled with little natural fairy lights. It is these random and unplanned experiences likes this that traveling is all about. Content we hunkered down into our van for the night.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 14:53 Archived in New Zealand

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