China, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia travel blog

We landed in Auckland and were welcomed with rain, overcast and more roundabouts to drive through. The harbor was nice, but nothing compared to downtown Brisbane, Sydney or downtown Melbourne in terms of beauty. We met many friendly people in our hostel and experienced some nightlife. It was a difficult decision to decide what to do in northern New Zealand. The Bay of Islands North of Auckland sounds beautiful, but didn't work well logistically with our week timeline to do many activities south of Auckland. The price of gas, $214.9 per litre, was also a factor as we were driving.

Most of the towns and cities in New Zealand have aboriginal names. Our first stop after leaving Auckland was off the highway near Matamata. The drive consisted of many highway curves, lots of hills and even more sheep. There was no wasted land. Where there wasn't infrastructure, there was sheep. Upon arriving at our location, the childhood came out in the both of us. More so Tyson over Amanda, but much childhood nonetheless. The Hobbiton is the original shooting location of 'The Shire' in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming 'The Hobbit' to come out December 2012. This glorious two hour tour consisted of walking around the Shire, history regarding the filming of the trilogy and the Hobbit, and fun-filled facts that brought joy to our hearts. One enjoyable fact is Peter Jackson was flying over northern New Zealand looking for the perfect location for the shire and saw the beautiful big tree that is known as the 'Party Tree' which is seen mostly in the first movie. Jackson got permission from the Alexandre family to use their land and the New Zealand Military build a high quality road for logistical equipment. Two hundred forty days later (approximately) the trilogy was filmed, ofcourse consisting of many rain days. Leaving The Shire was difficult, but our trip must go onward.

We went to Rotorua and checked into a home away from home hostel. It was small, nice and under new management. Walking around town was different than any other place we have been. Rotorua smells like rotten eggs due to all the geysers basically all over town. Their lake walk consisted of safety barriers around these geysers and mud pools which we didn't want to get closer to anyway. The aboriginals used to bathe in these areas and dispose of their bodies after battles so the enemies would never get their bodies. We went to a little place off the highway called Kerosene Creek. This is a natural hot spring and there are many like it in this area of New Zealand. We visited mud pools which is Geyser's and lots of mud which was very interesting.

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