First stop Weta workshop! A lot of fun learning about how movies are made and miniatures and props, but it left us running late.
And as I still had no Vodafone broadband I needed to visit a store whilst in a main town. When it came time to get to the ferry we had 30 minutes in a small city, but at a place I did not know where!
We must have been last as the attendant called me by name when I arrived, Jenna and I were seperated into car and camper lanes and put on different decks, we naturally found each other in the lounge. I had settled the dogs in the camper and found the lounge and settled in with a wine and chips by the time Jenna had been parked. She only had a glass and then turned extremely green! Who knew the girl got sea sick.
When I saw the lights of Picton I grinned from ear to ear. But I think it was Jenna who was most happy to get off the boat! So my South island adventure starts now!
Mindful of the fact we are now 2 days behind we need to do some serious miles and play catch up. It is a long drive and we hit that dreadful one way into Wellington with a gas pipe which has been dug up and there were fire engines everywhere and the traffic is at a gridlock!
We were meeting my friends Ange and Atul, and Priya who is home from Melbourne university and Sacchi my godson. Priya chose the restaurant (one of her favourites) an Asian fusion called Chow. We tried so many dishes, and none were a disappointment, so I would highly recommend you visit if you are in Wellington.
It was getting late so after they all visited Flash Harry we turned in for an early night.
Waking up beside the lake was just wonderful, the dogs and I went for a lovely walk, it was really cold, crisp and gorgeous.
We were booked for a thermal pool at 9am, so had a nice warm plunge before getting facials and pedicures. Mine had manuka honey and Rotorua muds, it was divine!
Then we stopped in at one of Simon Gaults restaurants, we were not disapointed, the food was wonderful.
We drove to Ohakune ski village, by the time we got in we were tired and had another quiet night.
We had wanted to go up the gondola in Rotorua but alas the cloud was so low we wouldn’t have seen a thing. So we decided to drive to Taupo. We’d met a couple who raved about the thermal pools at Taupo. When we had read about them we saw they had a spa so decided that could be our girly treat.
Although the drive was only short we took all day sightseeing.
First we stopped at Huka falls, gosh that is amazing, one huge volume of water being forced through a narrow gorge. Daisy & Monty posed for photos.
Next was the prawn farm, we learnt all about the breeding of them in the geothermal natural warm water. But the high light was fishing for prawns. I hooked one quite quickly, and got so excited I flung it up and over the jetty and back in the water! Needless to say, that when Jenna caught one, she was a tad more careful than me, and managed to get hers into the bucket.
We took our one lonesome prawn to the restaurant to be cooked, and I added ½ a kilo of delicious prawns. Garlic butter and prawns, a marriage made in heaven.
That night we found 5 mile bay, a free campsite on the edge of lake Taupo. We were literally 3 feet from the water! Again the dogs loved this location, we walked along the edge collecting pumice, and loving the thermal clothing, as it was mighty cold!
We booked for spas the next morning and had a quiet night in the camper with wine and cheese.
The dogs finally got to see why they had been moved into a camper van when they woke and poked their noses out of the bedroom window. It had delicious doggy aromas a la fragrant Rotorua. The campsite was huge and at the back of it was a college with a rugby field to run around. So they were very happy dogs. I also ran them to the lake while I found coffee, and they had their photos taken by Asian tourists while they were staring at the huge swans on the lake.
Jenna and I wanted to go to Whakarewarewa that day, but we were late starting due to disposing of the last of the boxes, finally most things had found a permanent home in the camper van. It was still raining but it didn’t dampen our guides enthusiasm, he had grown up in the village, cooking in the steam pools and bathing in the communal naturally heated baths.
We waited an hour to see Pohutu geyser erupt, and we weren’t disappointed. The rain even held off for a few photos.
Later we drove into town to look at the lake and the gondola and went to ‘Eat Street’ to dine, we had read good reviews of the restaurant Atticus Finch, and were not disappointed with the shared plates.
Finally after more packing of Flash Harry and one more lesson on how to operate the satellite, the awning, the heating, the oven, etc we are on the move!
Yes, we need to get the South Island but let’s have a bit of fun and be tourists on the way. Hobbiton was the first stop outside Matamamta, one tiny problem was that I entered the address for Hobbiton and the Navman took us down every meandering country lane. Lush pretty green narrow country lanes, an utter delight and site to behold, if only you are not drving a 7.2metre motor home which you have never driven before.
We arrived in time to go on the 2.30pm tour, a 2 hour tour of the prettiest film set ever. All the hobbit houses were made in different scales to enable the hobbits to look 3 foot tall in the movie.
The actual site for the movies was found when Peter Jackson flew over the farm, saw the lake and a tree, and realised it was private enough not to be seen from the road. He asked the farmer who agreed if they removed all the sets and leave the farm as they found it after shooting. The army was offered to use to build the roads when the then Prime minister Helen Clark refused to offer cash assistance. But the true reason the army were in the area (not on army manouevres as was the excuse given) was spilt when some of the army went into the small town to celebrate and let the cat out of the bag.
A lot of fans approached the farmer who wanted to see the sets. So when the farmer was approached a second time for the sequel to Lord of the Rings he agreed they could film again if this time they created hobbit houses which would last, made out of permanent materials.
The tour was excellent, finishing at the Green dragon tavern on the set, with a ginger beer for me, and a beer for Jenna.
From there it all went downhill on the way to Rotorua, we left so late we hit the dark, the rain and mist and the trip was just awful, not helped by the fact I didn’t know the camper van yet. Suffice to say I was so relieved when we arrived in one piece. Yet again we emptied more boxes, consumed wine and cheese and walked the dogs in the rain.
After the moving company & I spent an entire day packing a container, another full day of cleaners giving the house the best clean it has ever had, finally I moved to a decidedly 1970’s motel unit with Daisy & Monty. And today my darling niece Jenna flew in from Perth to help me by driving my car to the South Island.
We went straight to the RV Super centre to pick up the motor home. I was given a quick driving lesson and sent on our way to avoid the afternoon traffic. But first things first, a motor home is not a motor home if it doesn’t have a name. My good friend Denise had organised the sign writing, and also brought out a bottle of pink champagne, so glass in hand we attached the sign writing. And voila we have ‘Flash Harry’, my soon to be home.
The evening consisted of packing Flash Harry and entertaining Peter, June & Ben who wanted to see where we would be living for some time. And the boxes are never ending.
Well after many open homes, much cleaning, daily leaving the house with the dogs to leave people to view my wee house, we finally went to auction today and sold.
My darling friend and real estate agent Paula pulled some rabbits out of a hat today and it sold for a vast sum of money that I am extremely happy about.
Actually what is the superaltive to extremely happy? Extraordinarily happy? Ecstatic? Flabberghasted would be another adjective.
There were about a dozen people bidding! For my little old house! Goes to show I did something right with my original purchase and rennovations! Now all I have to do is replicate it in the South Island with the bonus of making the new place also a fabulous retreat for tourists.
So I have some freedom and some choices.
The only ones who enjoyed the open homes were the dogs, who were constantly bundled up and taken to the beach for a walk. Sorry puppies, its now back to normal, actually what am I saying? Settlement is for 23 June, 21 days away and I need to be packed up and out of here!
Woohoo, you have to love those bunnies and hats!