Find Me Where The Hobbits Are

If you ever find yourself in the Shire aka Matamata you have to pay a visit to Hobbiton. I have to say as a disclaimer – I am not the biggest lord of the rings/hobbit fan, however after a day at this magical place, I am a convert. It is a vision, a complete immersion into the world of Tolkien and a pleasure to behold. A beautiful story of family and opportunity combined with one of the most popular stories that spans generations.

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Take the tour, they are available in lots of languages so make sure you check out the website for the best option for you! It gives you all the inside information and lets you wonder around Bilbo’s stomping ground with knowledge of whose hairy footsteps you’re walking in. You can even stop off at the Green Dragon for a cheeky cider or spot of grub before heading through to the wonderful gift shop – which has one a guest book, I love these!

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When you are back at the starting point (the place where you buy your tickets) have an ice cream, genuinely the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life! We went in October right at the start of the season and it was the perfect time to go, beautiful weather and the crowds weren’t to overwhelming!

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I would definitely recommend this place for your New Zealand bucket list. Its an awesome day out and like nothing I have ever experienced.

Enjoy Hobbits!

https://www.hobbitontours.com/en/ 

 

Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove

After heading out of Auckland our next stop was Hot Water Beach, we drove along the Coromandel and stopped to do some walking on the way. This stretch of driving is really beautiful definitely not one to miss if your road tripping around NZ.

Hot Water Beach is a pretty awesome place, a gorgeous beach in its own right with a sprinkle of geothermal magic. Take a spade (there’s a place to pick them up right near the entrance sign) and dig a hole when the tide is out and right before your eyes you have created your own unique bathing experience even the Romans would be jealous of!

We visited this part of NZ in the middle of October 2017 just as spring was kicking in. The beach was pretty much empty, looking at the pictures at the time of posting in mid Jan the beach is booming so consider this when planning your trip. We had much more space and freedom rather than being crowded by fellow bath seekers. Do be careful though as the water in some places can get very hot so keep your wits about you – there are also strong under currents and rips in the ocean here so probably not the best place to go for a swim.

After bath time we decided to go on a kayaking adventure around Cathedral Cove. We went with Cathedral Cove Kayaking and would highly recommend them, the guides were great fun and so knowledgeable of the areas cultural and geographical history. However, if your looking for a way to test a 4 month old relationship at the start of travelling, duo kayaking with a broken left pedal is the way to do it! However, we battled through and had an incredible afternoon seeing the sites of Cathedral Cove and the surrounding marine reserve. We even stopped for coffee and biscuits on the secluded beach, pure bliss!

We stayed at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday park in a 6-bed dorm. The dorms were clean and comfortable with good showers in each block. There is an awesome little food shed that served up a mean fish and chips with salad for $10 a meal. We drank wine and got to know are fellow dorm mates.

After a few too many glasses of Wine most campers headed to bed, this was when my ever adventurous boyfriend decided it would be romantic to go down to the beach and look at the starts whilst in the hot water. I wasn’t a fan of this idea as it was a little rainy and windy, but he persisted, so on we went. The walk which seemed to only take about 10 minutes earlier that day felt like it took years. Luckily, for Phil, we did catch a glimpse of the elusive Kiwi bird in the wild – I jumped out of my skin thinking it was a rat! I begged Phil to turn around and eventually convinced him we were going to end up on the cover of a newspaper, headline reading “In Hot Water: The Tipsy Tourists Tragedy”. However, as we headed back a group of fellow Kiwi Experiencers had the same idea, so we joined torches and headed to the beach. The result was two guys getting their kit off and digging with their hands resulting in them mildly warm and the girls huddled together trying to hurry the process up!

I’m sure in the summer with the right tide this place is awesome at night. The stars where amazing even with the slight rain. While Phil was showering the sand off I managed to chill on top of a picnic table and take it all in!

Overall definitely one to add to the bucket list!

New Zealand Travel Guide: Auckland

It’s a miracle! I have finally got around to putting my thoughts into words, and words into sentences to make them into blog posts on the places we visited whilst travelling around New Zealand! hoorah! I have decided to do my version of a Travel Guide on each place, letting you know what I got up to and any must dos and must avoids (in my humble wayfaring rambles opinion).

Our NZ adventure began and ended in Auckland. We opted to travel around on the Kiwi Experience bus and I’ll be doing a separate post about the pros and cons of this method of travel.

Time frame: Its not the kind of place I would go for holiday but I would definitely allow at least 3 days (if you have the time) to explore all it has to offer.  It is the largest urban area in the country so if your looking for your picture postcard NZ pics you’re probably not going to find them here, but, what you will find is a cool city with a diverse population, awesome coffee shops, cafes and restaurants and a sprinkling of some pretty beautiful city scape views.

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Geography: So, Auckland is a major city in the North Island. It has a sailing obsessed population mostly due to its location set amongst two large harbours. One to the Pacific ocean and one to the Tasmanian Sea. New Zealand is known for being full of tectonic activity and Auckland isn’t an exception being on the site of a dormant volcanic field. We were there in October and December, so we straddled the start of the summer. NZ weather is definitely ever changing so prepare for everything.

What to do: It has a bustling main high street full of every kind of shop you could imagine from Chanel to those souvenir menageries that have I ❤ Auckland emblazoned on everything imaginable. Take half a day to mooch around get your caffeine fix, I am in love with the ‘Remedy Coffee’ it sits opposite a cross roads and is a great place for people watching, with exceptional coffee and bacon sandwiches.

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Grab some food from the awesome Elliot Stables just around the corner with every restaurant type you could imagine you will be sure to find something you fancy. Then wander down the side alley across the road and find the perfect place for after dinner desert and drinks.  Take a wander round and chill out on some bean bags or deck chairs, soaking up the atmosphere in the culture and art hub of the city around Aotea Square.

The Sky Tower, amazing panoramic views of the city, plus free wifi! I facetimed my family from the top and the reaction was priceless. Its $29.00 for an adult ticket and I would definitely say it’s worth the money.

Take a walk along the harbour, there is plenty of bars and cafes to keep you occupied. There are over 45 volcano cones you can walk around in Auckland, so if this is up your street take a look at some tours. There are also ferry’s to the nearby Waiheke Island for wine tasting and lazing galore, we didn’t have time to do this but it came highly recommended from an Auckland local.

Where did we stay:

Waldorf St Martins Hotel – Beautiful apartment suite, a little walk out of the main city but views out to sea. Everything you could need and one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in!

Queen Street Backpackers – Perfect hostel for saving money when backpacking. We stayed in an 8-bed dorm, it was light and airy, there was free wifi through out and a complimentary breakfast. Amazing location and cheap Beer, everyones a Winner!.

Columbia Apartments – Not an ideal location. Bad reception for both customer service and efficiency and expensive wifi that didn’t really work properly. Tiny rooms and we just didn’t feel overly comfortable in the dilapidated building. It was a little walk from the main city as well, I wouldn’t recommend it here. However, it was the cheapest way to get a double room.

It was the graduation ceremonies for lots of University of Auckland students and there was a real feel of community spirit watching them parade through Queen Street. I think it would be a great place to live and study, it’s difficult to find the magic of a city like Auckland in a short amount of time. Overall we enjoyed Auckland, it was more of a functional stop than a must see destination but I am glad we went.

Definitely go to Remedy though and sit in the window, coffee heaven! Did I mention the menus were inside old National Geographic *happy place*.