New Zealand: A not so unexpected journey…

Let’s face it, a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without visiting the Hobbiton set from both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. The location couldn’t have been more perfect, nestled out in the rolling hills of the farmland East of Hamilton, complete with a small lake and The Green Dragon Inn where we finished our tour with Hobbiton’s home-brewed beer and cider.

The level of detail throughout the set is incredibly charming, which includes small curtains and flower pots in the windows, washing lines, smoking chimneys, jackets hung outside doors and collections of honey, preserves and smoked fish outside various Hobbit holes. The list of careful and loving details put into the set could go on and on and we’ve no doubt you’ll be able to spot more examples in the photos.

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Bilbo’s house.

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Fake tree on the hill over Bilbo’s house. Each leaf was imported from Taiwan and individually attached to the tree for an authentic look!

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Green Dragon and The Water.

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We loved their tiny letter boxes.

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Famous double arch bridge and the mill.

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Jess enjoying Hobbiton’s own beer.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, speak to you soon, 

Ben and Jess :)  

New Zealand: Don’t go chasing waterfalls…

New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for incredibly beautiful scenery and contributing to that reputation are the impressive selection of gorgeous waterfalls that are dotted throughout the country. These photos aren’t an exhaustive example of New Zealand’s falls but these were our favourites so we hope you enjoy the pictures :)

Huka Falls – Taupo

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Bridal Veil Falls – Hamilton

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Marokopa Falls – Waitomo

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Okere Falls – Rotorua

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Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: Rotten eggs for lunch…anyone?

You remember having a pack lunch for school, everyone is eating away, chatting merrily, but you’re a dare devil so you’ve risked having the dreaded stink bomb that is, the egg sandwich. You desperately try to pull it out your lunch box and shovel it in as quickly as possible, but your efforts are in vain and it soon reaches everyone’s noses and you’re left on your own with the smelly egg sarnie. Well imagine that smell and triple it…a few times!

Many people warned us that as you approach Rotorua, you smell it before you see it, and they weren’t wrong. The distinct boiled (and occasionally rotten) egg smell that follows you around Rotorua is caused by large amounts of sulphur which is a downside to living in a highly volcanic area. Of course it may be hard to see any upside to living in an area ripe with volcanic activity but having magma close to the surface allows for a plethora of naturally heated pools, bubbling mud baths and a hazy, white steam which funnels out of the ground everywhere you look.

This combination creates some very luxurious spa treatments and hot pools to relax in, along with interesting walks that lead you around pulsating, mud spewing, smoking holes in the floor and boiling pools of water with names like ‘Devils Throat’ and ‘Witches Cauldron!’ We of course did some of these walks (and a spa bath or two to reward our hard work) so enjoy the pics!

Whakarewarewa Maori village

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Bubbling mud pools and mounds.

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Steam coming off a lake which consistently sits at boiling point.

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Geothermal areas within Maori village.

Taupo’s geothermal activity

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Named the ‘Dragon’s Mouth’. You can see why!

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Despite enjoying Rotorua very much we weren’t too grieved to leave behind the ever-present smell of eggs (although the stench insisted on lingering on our clothes for another few days) and head towards Hamilton and our next adventure which would take us into the heart of Middle Earth…

More from us soon,

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: Wellington’s got wind…real bad wind!

After crossing over to the North Island on the Picton ferry we spent a couple of hectic days in the wind tunnel that is New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. Bar seeing the imposing and impressive Te Papa museum we didn’t linger long in the capital, trading the hustle and bustle (and wind and rain) of city life for the far more calming scenery (and free parking) of the countryside as we headed north…

 New Plymouth

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New Plymouth’s wind wand.

Taupo

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We woke up to this view at our campsite.

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Napier

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Tauranga

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Yep the sea was actually that colour!

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Unfortunately Wellington’s propensity for high winds seems to be a trend in the north island, the north being much flatter than the south, meaning that driving the van has at times felt like riding a frenzied bull intent on throwing us from the road.

Leaving the coast helped slightly, yet little did we know we were in for a different kind of wind… the smelly sulphur, egg-aroma belches that bubble up out of the highly volcanic land… but more on that on our next post!

 

Speak soon,

 

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: 200 seal pups…enough said!

The Origin of Travel:

Reblogging because the new updates have confused us slightly and we’re not sure this post posted properly!

Originally posted on The Origin of Travel:

When a passing traveller tells you about a beautiful waterfall which is not only free and easy to access but is also home to 200 seal pups who live and play freely in the falls, you go!

 

It was in Kaikoura, a haven of wildlife, that we found this gem of nature and having seen around 500 adult seals the previous day we didn’t think it possible to be more impressed, but boy were we wrong…

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This seemed to be their favourite spot to play.

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We were literally only feet, and at times inches, away from them!

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That’s a guilty face if ever we saw one!

 

And since they already got a mention we wouldn’t want to leave out the adult seals, which in their vast numbers were very impressive in themselves.

 

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Dead flies? Nope, more seals!

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Strike a pose!

View original 37 more words

New Zealand: 200 seal pups…enough said!

When a passing traveller tells you about a beautiful waterfall which is not only free and easy to access but is also home to 200 seal pups who live and play freely in the falls, you go!

 

It was in Kaikoura, a haven of wildlife, that we found this gem of nature and having seen around 500 adult seals the previous day we didn’t think it possible to be more impressed, but boy were we wrong…

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This seemed to be their favourite spot to play.

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We were literally only feet, and at times inches, away from them!

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That’s a guilty face if ever we saw one!

 

And since they already got a mention we wouldn’t want to leave out the adult seals, which in their vast numbers were very impressive in themselves.

 

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Dead flies? Nope, more seals!

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Strike a pose!

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As you’ll probably notice the following pictures are not of seals but the sunrise at our campsite was too gorgeous to not let you see it too…

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That’s the highlights for Kaikoura, speak to you soon,

 

Ben and Jess :) 

 

New Zealand: So I threw up on a dolphin…

Ok so the title of this post definitely needs an explanation and don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging!

Our dolphin watch tour in Kaikoura turned out to be a little bit of a double edged sword. On the one edge you have dolphins; lots and lots of dolphins. The tour took us out into the Pacific Ocean and found an enormous group of Dusky Dolphins (the crew estimated there were 4 – 500 there that day) who swam along with the boat in large groups and entertained everyone with much leaping from the water. This part of the tour was absolutely incredible and was an utterly unforgettable experience, which even included a brief glance at a sperm whale as well.

The other edge of the dolphin watch sword involved a particularly aggressive bout of sea sickness striking Ben who spent the majority of the 3 hours at sea emptying the contents of his stomach into a bucket and yes… onto a passing dolphin! We were however able to laugh about the situation (though only afterwards) and were reassured that the dolphins are quite used to it! We also managed to take some photos despite the sea’s best efforts to throw us both and our camera overboard.

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Swimmers with the dolphins.

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A Dusky Dolphin living up to its reputation as the most acrobatic of dolphin species.

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We were privileged to see this rare type of Dusky Dolphin which is entirely black without the silver underbelly.

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More showing off…

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One last flip for the cameras.

 

So that was our experience with the Dusky Dolphins and next time we’ll continue our Kaikoura highlights with our up close and personal interaction with over 200 seal pups!

 

Ben and Jess :)