|We were picked up this morning for a half day tour of the sights around Rotorua.
We started with Te Puia which is a hot springs park with a Maori cultural centre. We were lucky as when we started the tour the main geyser started erupting. This was impressive. We had a look around at the rest of the area and the training area where they keep alive the old crafts of weaving and carving. Unfortunately we didn't really have enough time here.
We continued on to Rainbow Springs wildlife park where we saw a lot more wildlife. The best part was seeing a better view of the Kiwi and the Tuatara. We also saw a lot of fish and birds. We saw the Kea and the Kaka which are very destructive parrots particularly common on the South Island. We also saw a blue trout which is very rare.
Our last stop for the morning was the Agrodome. We were not expecting a lot from this but it turned out to be really good fun. We learned about 19 types of sheep and saw demonstrations of sheep shearing and using a sheep dog. We both went up on stage to milk a cow, big news for us city kids!! This was a ton of fun and a very well presented and entertaining show.
In the afternoon we went out to the Waikato area to get a look at the original location for Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings. The driver bringing us out to the area was a top bloke and a great laugh. We arrived at the farm and transferred to another bus where a guide took us around the farm. The staff were great on this tour and had lots of information. The area is really beautiful but there is not a lot of the set remaining. This is because everything was constructed with temporary materials or with polystyrene foam so all off this had to be removed as it is toxic to the environment. Two years after the filming the tours started and the film company sent out some of the original set designers to re-construct 16 of the hobbit holes with more permanent materials.
The tour was fun and interesting but the big plus is that the landscape is amazing so it was a good afternoon.
Later in the evening we took the easy option of checking out the Maori dinner and show at the hotel (The Millennium Hotel). This was a bit disappointing. The food and the show was very good but it wasn't exactly the authentic experience we were looking for. To be fair, you get what you pay for, and this only cost 30 euro each!