As some people know I went to New Zealand this summer, traveling with the Kiwi Experience all over the Northern Island. The Kiwi Experience is a hop on hop off bus tour that gives you the option to visit many cool places you might now have seen as a more casual traveler. Of course since my main interest of NZ comes from the Lord of the Rings movies and scenery, it was a goal for me to see as much of “Middle Earth” as possible. Some people might have already seen my post about Hobbiton.
Coromandel, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove
Our first stop with the bus was the North East of the Island, were we stayed at Hot Water Beach in Coromandel. This is a region with windy roads, much green scenery and beaches. Too bad it was winter and a bit too cold to take a bath.
Some might remember Cathedral Cove from the second Narnia film.
You know it’s a windy bridge when it says “Max 10 persons at the time”.
A village with a cave system that’s a famous tourist attraction. From here you can also visit the glow worm caves, which looks simply stunning.
We were not aloud to take pictures troughout the boat trip (that was all quiet) inside the caves, but it looks as stunning as on this promo picture.
One of the most cultural places we visited was Rotorua. Here we got to see some pretty neat volcanic areas (which NZ has a lot of!), eat and hang out with the native Maori people and this is also were we stayed the night when we visited the Hobbiton set in Matamata.
One of the Geysirs in a geothermal park called Te Puia. This geysir can blow up to 30 meters high several times a day.
The Maori people cook some of their food in ground hot pools. This awesome lady made us some boiled eggs and showed us around the Te Puia site.
The Maori people I met were both kind and awesome. They told us they love it when their culture are shared around the world. We got to take some photos with a couple of guys painted in traditional war tattoos. Some of the tribal tattoos around the world has their heritage from here.
The longest name I’ve seen. I recorded our guide pronouncing it!
At the Te Puia site they have a school were people can study traditional Maori hand craft, like wood working. It’s amazing how much time and thought that is put into these figures.
Boiling mud pools. The town of Rotorua smells like sulfur, no wonder why!
At night time some of the hot pools looked pretty mystical. I’m just waiting for a fantasy creature to stick it’s head up from the water.
Dinner served by the Maori people, cooked in ground hot pools. Look at the size of those mussels!
Taupo is a town located in the mid part of the Northern Island, alongside the Great Lake Taupo, which is in fact not only a lake but a huge volcano. Even though it’s a very quiet town, it had something sweet about it. This is also were I got the best view from my hotel room; Mount Ngauruhoe, or Mt. Doom as us Lord of the Rings fans call it.
Tongariro National Park
After staying in Taupo looking at “Mt. Doom” we actually got to visit the surrounding area Loads of people from the Kiwi tour went up to see it close up. Since it was a 7-8 hour long tour in pretty cold weather it wasn’t for me. I also catched a cold the day before. The tour in the surrounding area was 2 hours long, and even though I was still sick it was amazing!
Of course it had to be cloudy this day…
Chateau Tongariro which opened in 1929.
We did a short stop at Tawhai Falls, or the Forbidden Pool as Lord of the Rings fans know it by. This is were Faramir and his men was threatening Gollum while he was fishing and singing.
On or way down to Wellington we stopped at a little holiday lodge called the River Valley lodge. Here we ate a nice dinner with sweet potatoes (kumara as it is called in NZ) and lamb. They also had a bar serving mulled wine, and we stayed up listening to music, playing cards and hanging out. There were no WIFI here, which was actually quite calming. Some of the tour group went rafting and horse riding in the morning.
My favorite place visiting must be Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. It’s such a beautiful city, not bigger than Bergen in Norway. It lies by the sea. The only negative thing is that it’s pretty windy here all year around, which gives some famous flight landings (that you can look up on youtube AFTER you have traveled here). This is also were the first Lord of the Rings premiere was and many of its locations. I also had a blast visiting the Weta Cave.
Hiding from Nazguls at Mount Victoria.
…. more Lord of the Rings scenery. Where the Nazguls ride through from the Shire.
Weta has worked with MANY great films, not only Lord of the Rings. Some of their other work is the Hobbit, Narnia, Xena; The Warrior Princess, Thunderbirds are Go, Planet of the Apes, World of Warcraft, King Kong, Kingdom of Heaven, Zorro, the Last Samurai, Mad Max: Fury Road and Tintin. You can imagine how fun this was to experience!
One of the best moments from the trip was when I got to hold one of Saruman’s staffs (they have several of course) at the Weta Cave. Felt like a child with the biggest ice cream ever! It’s pretty easy to see how tall Christopher Lee was from this.
A frightening Uruk Hai inside the shop.
I got to see tons of costumes and props from Middle Earth. We weren’t aloud to take photos inside the workshop though, because they are working on new material there. Imagine anyone taking pictures and spoiling new film.
Me and one of the trolls Bilbo met on his adventure in the Hobbit. Life size.
Azog, the pale orc.
New Zealands biggest city is Auckland with a population of about 1,4 million. This was my last stop for two days before leaving the country. I stayed at a hotel called Crowne plaza which was pretty decent. Decided I had to try out some luxury before leaving.
I took a visit to the War Memorial museum in the city, which had so many interesting section, both cultural and historic. Such a huge place. Free for the city inhabitants, but not too expensive for other visitors as well.
Why visit New Zealand?
It’s probably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and as far as you can get from Norway as possible. This country has everything, from huge mountains and volcanos to long beaches, green forests and parks, along with exciting cities and town. The country has less people than Norway in it, about 4,5 millions..
This furball is the national bird of New Zealand, the Kiwi… Now you probably know why the people here are called Kiwis, right?
The Kiwi Experence tour bus! I recommend doing this, especially if you are travelling alone. You meet so many nice people, mostly around the age of 18-30.. and the bus drivers are also pretty cool (at least the ones we had).