Our first trip was very spontaneous. We couldn’t really plan for it, because Anna and I felt a little sick the days before. The New Zealand winter took a lot out of us I guess 😛 But finally we felt better on Friday so we texted each other and I booked an InterCity Bus from my smartphone in the morning. The two way trip would be NZ$129 for the three of us which is about 25€ each. So pretty good for a 440km trip.
So on the bus we still needed to book accommodation for Rotorua. And this was when the on board wifi came in handy. So I downloaded the Hostelworld-App and we looked for a nice and cheap hostel on it. The first one we found looked really good and was incredible cheap. It was called the Rocked Solid Backpackers in the city centre of Rotorua.
The bus station was very close to our backpackers. Nokia Here Maps helped us to actually find the right address. You can download maps for any country on earth to have it locally and not have to use your mobile data. And it’s available for Android, iOS and Windows Mobile.
So after we arrived at the Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua NZ we came upon this very helpful lady. She ran the Rocked Solid Backpackers together with her husband. And they run it incredibly well. All clean interior and very helpful people. They basically helped us to plan our stay in Rotorua. We had three things on our to-do-list: Hot springs, Hobbiton and The Luge. But we realized that we won’t be able to do all of it. So we decided to skip The Luge because there is another one in Christchurch. So we planned for the Te Puia Hot Springs in the morning and Hobbiton afterwards.
To have some food for the next day, we went to Pak’n’Save and bought some basics for breakfast and pasta.
Te Puia – Hot Springs
The next day we woke up very early to walk to the Te Puia Hot Springs. It was about 3km from our hostel so not too far away. It was a beautiful morning walk through Rotorua. We didn’t like the smell so much, though 😛 it smelled like old eggs everywhere. That’s because of the thermal activity.
After about 40 minutes we arrived at the tourist centre. It was just before 8 o’clock so we were the first guests and we had enough time to see the entire areal.
Because it was quite cold, the hot springs were very steamy. The whole park was cluttered with steam. But after a while, it brightened up and we had a nice view over the national park.
After seeing a few smaller springs and mud holes, we continued to the big geyser which is supposed to erupt every hour and up to 20m high. When we arrived at it, the eruption was already ongoing. So I took my tripod, set my DSLR up and started a time lapse. I also took a few videos with my iPhone (for slow motion) and the GoPro.
At about 11am we decided to go home so we could cook and eat something before we had to go to the bus station for Hobbiton. On our way we went to Pak’n’Save to get some pasta which we made in the backpacker’s kitchen.
At 1pm we went to the iSite station. From there we took the bus and set off in the direction of Hobbiton. It took us about 45 minutes to get there. When we reached the “Land of the Alexanders”, who are the landlords of that incredible huge land, the bus driver told us a little bit about the story of filming The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit here. They had to move hundreds of sheep and other animals. At first, the little Hobbit houses were built out of very cheap material so it wouldn’t last very long.
After Sir Peter Jackson came back to tell the Alexanders that he want to do shoot the Hobbit as well, they agreed under one condition. This time the houses had to be made out of stronger material so they could keep them and make a tourist attraction.
When we arrived at Hobbiton, I was really surprised. I thought they might have something like 4-5 houses. But there were 30 or even more. All with very nice decorated front yards. The doors were all different colours. And also the sizes differed. That’s to make Ian McKellen (Gandalf) look much bigger than e.g. Elijah Wood (a much smaller Hobbit). So when a Hobbit would enter a door, they use a bigger one, then cut the scene and then use a smaller one for McKellen.
Our guide also gave us some background information about the making of the movies.
When we were done with the tour, we stopped in at the Green Dragon’s pub. A Hobbit’s pub where we had some awesome ginger beer (for free! 🙂 )
After that we went back on our bus to take the trip home. We then decided to watch the Lord of The Rings in our backpacker’s room but had to skip it, since not all of us were able to stay awake 😛