Posted by: Vallere | March 7, 2011

Down the Hobbit Hole

Well, I’m another year older. 31. I’m *in* my 30s now. That’s a little depressing, but at the same time, I’ve packed a lot of living into 31 years and  I’m truly thankful. My birthday is March 3, which is convenient, because it is written 3/3 no matter whether I’m in the US where the month comes first, or in New Zealand where the day comes first. Less thinking for me!

My birthday this year was fantastic, and totally made up for how horrid last year was. We got a wonderful sitter who survived seemed to really have fun with the kids (all THREE of them!) and The Doc and I went out on an actual date, to a grown up restaurant, where we were able to enjoy our food without our usual restaurant litany of “Sit down!” and “Finish eating!” and “Stop playing with your food!” and “Be quiet!”. I had almost forgotten how nice that could be! Then, after supper, we met up with some of our new homeschool family friends for coffee and dessert. We stayed out until 9:30pm and enjoyed every second of it. I haven’t laughed that much in ages! To top things off, we came home to a baby already asleep in bed, boys who had been fed supper, the dishes put away, and no one was duck taped to a chair…success!

The Doc is flying back to the States in a few weeks to take his board exams, so this weekend was really the last chance we’ll have to take a nice long trip for a month or more. We decided to head out Friday when he got off work, and do a circuit of a good bit of the North Island. We left Friday at around 5:30pm and took off towards Lake Taupo. Taupo is actually a supervolcano (think Yellowstone Park). The lake itself is gigantic, and once you take into account how far reaching the bubbling mud pools and hot water springs are, it makes you realize that pretty much the whole North Island is one big volcano. We went through some amazing terrain on the way there…along Desert Road we saw miles and miles of scrub brush desert at the foot of Mount Ruapehu. I pieced 2 photos together to try to give you an idea of how BIG this thing is! You can see Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.

We continued on and arrived in Taupo just before 9pm. As we were checking into our hotel, the boys and I spotted a really neat snail! It was the biggest I’ve ever seen in the wild, and it was just sliding its way across the carpark…

Our room, like all of the rooms in Taupo, had a jacuzzi tub that was constantly being filled by water from the hot springs. It was probably 102F or so, and was JUST what we all needed after a long day in the car. The kids were wired, however – the downside to them sleeping during long car rides – and we didn’t get to sleep until very late.

The next morning we got up and drove (and drove…and drove…) to the Coromandel Peninsula to try to see Cathedral Cove. This was the scene from the beginning of Narnia: Prince Caspian where the children are in the train tunnel, then walk out of a cave onto a beach. We drove up an incredibly twisty road and arrived there, in the rain, to find out that all of the paths to Cathedral Cove had been washed out and there was only boat access to it. Paths to other coves were open, however, so we hiked down to them and got some spectacular views.

View from the carpark

Another view from the carpark

We could see this cave from the top of the cliff where the carpark was. I *think* it’s the backside of the cave that goes through to Cathedral Cove, but I kinda think Cathedral Cove is the next further one.

We hiked down to Stingray Bay, which is the little bay in the above picture. The tide was coming in fast, so we couldn’t stay long, but it was really pretty and wild looking.

Ground view of that cave.

We walked back up to near the top of the cliff and took another trail that went down to Gemstone Bay.

The head of the path to Gemstone Bay.

Really neat tree along the trail...you just expected an elf to pop up on one of the branches!

Down, down, down the steps...

Gemstone Bay

We intended to go to Hot Water Beach that day, as well, but the drive was so long, and the weather was so bad that we scrapped that idea. Hot Water Beach is a place where you can dig a foot or two down in the sand on the beach, and the hole will fill up with water from the hot springs. It’s a make-your-own-jacuzzi type place. Alas, I guess we’ll just have to go back one day!

We drove a bit south, to Thames, and got another hotel for the night. We were able to check in a bit earlier than Friday night, and enjoyed a bath and a cuppa before settling down to watch some cricket on TV. That is one confusing game!

Sunday morning, the only thing on our agenda was to get to Hobbiton. Yes, THE Hobbiton! We checked out of the hotel at around 9am and drove just over 2 hours to Matamata, where we were welcomed to Middle Earth!

Gollum!

We found a little cafe and the boys got gingerbread men to snack on before we headed to the tour.

And…that’s all I can tell you about Hobbiton. We had to sign waivers before hopping on the bus stating that we wouldn’t post any pictures online, nor would we describe the set or tell about how it was made. The bus driver drove us from The Shire’s Rest cafe out to the set, and then we had a guided tour for about an hour. I *can* tell you this much…it was just as amazing and detailed in person as it was in LOTR. Ian asked why the Hobbits weren’t coming out of their houses to see us…it was THAT real. I can not WAIT for The Hobbit to come out!

As our bus driver was bringing us back to The Shire’s Rest, she swerved and pulled over, then hopped out to rescue a little hedgehog who had tried to cross the road. We all gave her a rousing round of applause when she got back on the bus!

She also told us a great sheep joke…Why did the ram fall off the cliff? …… Because he didn’t see the ewe turn! ba dum bum *clash*

When we arrived back, we got to see a sheep shearing demo. It doesn’t look like it in the picture, but the sheep was actually quite calm through the whole thing. She just sat there on her bum and let him roll her around and shear her. 

Apparently wrestling sheep for a living makes you cut!

After that, the kids all got bottles to feed the lambs a bit. Ceirdwyn was fascinated by the sheep!

We then walked across the street to The Shire’s Rest for lunch. Note the first item on the menu? That’s what The Doc had.

FInally, after a long weekend, we were on our way home. Apparently it snowed ono Ruapehu while we were away, so I’ll leave you with another view of his majesty!

We’ll be taking a break from extensive travel for the next month or so to give The Doc time to study for his board exam. But stay tuned…I’ll try to update with what we are doing with our homeschooling, our Purim Party,  as well as some upcoming field trips over the next few weeks!

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Responses

  1. Happy Birthday! I am loving your pictures! Keep them coming! It all looks like so much fun.

  2. Oohh!! Hobbiton! I’m soooo jealous! I’ll bet it was just crazy cool!

  3. what about lunch, tea, snack, dinner???????? 🙂 looks like fun and the boys look like they are having a good time. It’s soooooooooo pretty.


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