Friday, November 27, 2015

Day 120 - ...Hello Aotearoa! (and Hobbiton)

The flight was terrible. While the aircraft was a brand new 787 dreamliner in All Blacks design, as always the space was to tight for us. As the night flight was 5 hours only, we couldn’t sleep (me at least). Because we flew from Perth to Auckland, we lost about five more hours, and the night was very short. Fortunately it wasn’t me who had to drive ;-) I recommend to watch Air New Zealands safety videos on YouTube, they’re so funny. The New Zealanders are fanatic of their rugby team (“All Blacks”) and use to hire them for their airplane safety spots. This time they rapped all the safety information to the main theme of “Men in Black”. The video was three times longer than regular ones, but was certainly watched by most.

Arriving in New Zealand, we had to be checked through again, for biohazard reasons. After having collected our luggage, we moved on to our rental car and it was just so freaking cold! The front window looked as it was partially iced, and we could see our breath. What a shock when you come from the desert?!
Our first stop was a farm close to Matemate, which is better known as Hobbiton! The tour through the movie set was quite expensive but worth it. I went alone, because my dad had done the tour exactly eleven months ago... I got to know nice people, but I unfortunately lost the napkin where the contact details were written on... Stupid. On the tour we learned that it took two years to build up the whole village, and it ended up to be used for twelve days only, which is a pretty short time. Almost everything around the village was real: the veggie garden, the trees (also the “Party Tree”) etc. The creators made the fences look older by drowning them in vinegar, so that they would darken, and painting them with painting color and yoghurt (to grow fungi and lichens). Even the window glasses were made specially, to have bubbles inside. Unfortunately we didn’t see the original tree above Bilbo’s house, because it was just out to be “re-leaved”...
In the background the tree being "re-leaved", without branches
The Green Dragon
The tour ended by serving us all a cider or beer (of course I chose my new favorite, cider) in the “Green Dragon” inn. My dad had to wait about two hours for me, but he was alright with that. Later he had to wait another hour, because I went to see the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo (again). I was nearly crying when I discovered the few places there which I still could remember - I was four when I visited the cave the first time. We were guided by a Maori woman, a descendant of one of the first two cave explorers back in the 19th century. The tour through the dripstone cave was very nice. We learned that there was a wedding in the so called chapel only three weeks ago, and that on Christmas the school choirs sang Christmas carols here. In the group after us there was a singer, so we could listen to the “Hallelujah” that she sung in the chapel, all in the dark, and it was just breathtaking.
Most of all I enjoyed the glowworm cave itself. By boat we were tied on a string through the cave beneath millions of blue green shimmering glowworms. The most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. More beautiful than every sky full of stars. Because it lives!
My father slept in the car during my tour, so he had enough energy to drive to Taumarunui, where we could have had a Spa pool in our motel, but skipped it because it was so cold. For some reason the entire village was without a soul, we even saw a deserted “video store” with a broken window (cliché). Maybe for the same reason the highway to the West that begins in this village is called “Forgotten World Highway”...

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