NZ Day 6-8: Caves + Hobbiton + Maori village

Day 6 Caves

Becca took a shower at the holiday park. They give you 5 mins of hot water. She could have used more. We drove 1.5 to the Waitomo glow worm caves. We were supposed to be there at 11am but arrived at 1. They still let us go through which was nice. There’s actually a set of three caves in the area and we went to Ruakuri cave because it was the accessible one. You start out going down this spiral ramp and then into the caves. We got to see the normal things like stalagmites and tites. Those were very cool. And then as you went further in you got to see the area of the cave with glow worms. When all the lights are out they look like little stars. Apparently this is to attract bugs that accidentally find themselves in cave and try to escape. Instead they get trapped in the glow worm’s fishing lines and then get eaten up. Pretty cool. On the way back out of the cave we fell behind our group and lost them. The cave lights are on a timing system and as we were trying to catch up the lights went out and it was pitch black. Becca didn’t like it because that’s when monsters and earthquakes happen. I figured we could just stay still and wait for another tour group to go through but we discovered our phones have lights on them and used those to light our pathway back instead. At some point our guide realized we were behind and came back for us. But we may have scared some glow worms in the process. When we got back to the spiral ramp there was a family from Denmark in our group. One of them offered to push me up the spiral. Becca enthusiastically said yes. Along the endless circles we found out that they are basically on the same holiday trip that we are. We were hitting all the same tourist spots on the same days and then going to the South Island. So now they are our travel friends.

After the caves we went to a nearby free camper van parking lot of a restaurant. They said they’re NZ premier bbq experience. When we went inside it felt more like a lodge at girls camp. But we were happy they let us use their bathrooms and spend the night for free in their parking lot. Though we did opt for the simple buffet for dinner. No such thing as free lunch.

Day 7 Hobbiton

In the morning becca really had to go to the bathroom but the restaurant didn’t open until 9am. So becca went on an adventure and found a nice spot behind a dumpster. We technically aren’t supposed to do that but dire times! We then drove 1.5 hr to Hobbiton or rather matamata which is where the hobbiton movie set was built and filmed.

It was technically thanksgiving day for us in NZ so we opted for the lunch buffet meal. The dining area was set up like a big celebration tent and it was nice to remember when dwarves and elves sat together for a meal before disease ran wild on middle earth. There was bread, pesto pasta, vegetable curry, chicken, fish, steak, and potatoes. So pretty much your standard meal for thanksgiving. Plus dessert! They even had apple crumble. Becca found a couple in our tour group who were from San Jose. We wished them a happy thanksgiving. It was nice to have camaraderie.

After our hobbit feast we started our tour. Since it was a bit hilly they had me get in a golf cart with our special tour guide who told us all the secret facts about hobbiton. His name was mike and he has a great accent. His sense of humor was like the flight of the conchords. So we had fun. He told us that his brother played an orc in Return of the King. He was a guard and just stood there. He also said they took down the original movie set for the LOTR trilogy and actually burned it. The scenes in the movies where the shire is fake being burned and hobbits are screaming if Frodo doesn’t throw the ring into mt. Doom was actually hobbiton burning. Very cool. But then they re-built the set for filming the hobbit and just left everything. There are different scales of hobbit holes for forced perspective filming. There were some very small ones and normal height ones. At the very end everyone got to get a free drink at the green dragon. Becca and I reAlized that if ever there was a trip to start drinking it is this one. We’ve gotten offers for free wine and beer on all our adventures. Luckily we learned from Daniel that the best decisions are made whilst drinking. So we chugged down a pint of hobbit beer at the green dragon. Worth it.

Then we drove to our nearby camper holiday park which has thermal hot springs. We went inside for a bit then showered and went to bed.

Day 8 Rotarua

We didn’t have any pressing plans for today so we took our time leaving the holiday park. We spent most of the morning cleaning my wheelchair wheels because they were squeaking and giving me trouble. We found out that it’s because my chair is old and I need a new one. Even with all the grease it still was very rusty and squeaky.

Then we went into matamata to get more chips and hummus. As well as candy. Of course and set sail for Rotorua which is known for their tourist Maori villages. They only do things in the evening we found out so while we waited for dinner we went to a cat cafe so Lena could get a glimpse of her future as a cat lady. This cat cafe was run by Asians and had 17 cats total. They also gave us a free drink and WiFi for an hour of paying to play with cats. Becca was nice to oblige even though she’s allergic to cats.

Then we went to the Tamaki Maori village. This is where all the Polynesians entertain white people for 4 hours by feeding them and doing the haka. It was actually really cool. I wonder how they feel about commercializing their history, ancestry, and culture. But also it was very cool. The food felt like we were eating another thanksgiving meal. Potatoes, chicken, gravy. They even had stuffing. Becca got a giant samosa for a vegetarian meal. Both were very good. Then we found a cheap camping site by a lake where people were waterskiing in the morning.

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