From Auckland to Hobbiton – Middle Earth
We had an uneventful flight to Auckland from Papeete, Tahiti early on New Years day. It was only a 5 hour flight, but when we got there it was the 2nd !! And there waiting for us was our old friend Charon who we hadn’t seen in 25 years and her
friend Sonia. We got all the jet lag out in Polynesia, and it is only an hour earlier (and a day later) in NZ, so we were very happy to ride the ferry off to Waiheke Island for dinner. It was great to renew an old friendship and make a new one. Waiheke Island reminds me of Sausalito. We ate at a funky restaurant overlooking the bay and tasted our first New Zealand wine. Hey, they know how to make red wine here, unlike a certain state I could mention. When the bill came it was only 50% more than what it seemed it should be, rather than double like Polynesia. And there is a 15% discount with the built into the exchange rate from U.S dollar to $NZ. One New Zealand dollar only costs 85 cents.
Hobbiton- Middle Earth
The next day we were off in our little Toyota Vitz. Must have at least 5 horsepower. Anyway, we must have gone through a wormhole of some sort, because at after 2 or 3 hours of driving, we found ourselves in the Northwest corner of Middle Earth, in Hobbiton ! For the uninitiated and those with little imagination, that is the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Was it really that cool? Yup, it really was that cool. We saw Bilbo’s hobbit hole, Bag End including Sam Gamgees place, The Party Tree, and a myriad of other things. The two hour tour ended at the masterfully crafted Green Dragon tavern and a free mug of beer. Well , it wasn’t actually free when you think about what we paid for entrance. After buying a couple of tee shirts at twice the reasonable price we four ourselves driving out of Middle Earth and down the road to Doolan’s Country Retreat just outside Rotarua.
Doolan’s Country Retreat
Our hostess Christine was a very fun conversationalist. We called to tell her we were on our way and she steered us to dinner at the Loose Goose so we wouldn’t go out of our way !! Once there , it is perhaps the only we have ever been place where you could leave the windows open with no screens !! The view of the green New Zealand countryside is a dose of God’s version of Ativan. You can find it at http://www.doolanscountryretreat.co.nz/