March 7, 2023
Today is Hobbiton! We drove two hours north to Matamata, home of Hobbiton. I’m not a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, but the place is truly a sight to see. It’s built on a sheep and cow farm, but feels like a fairytale village. 39 round doors dot the vibrant green hills, the doors varying in size to perceive certain characters (Gandalf) as much taller than others.
The homes themselves are just the facade, nothing behind the doors, windows and chimneys. Above Frodo’s home at the top of Bag Hill is a large artificial tree. You’d never know it’s artificial, the bark and 250,000 leaves very convincing.
The tour ends at the Green Dragon pub. We were treated to a stout and cider before the tour wrapped.
Next stop on our north island adventure is Rotorua. We drove an hour from Hobbiton and checked into our hotel. We could see steam from some geothermal features adjacent to the hotel. Time to go to the geothermal spa 🙂
The Polynesian Spa provided us with five alkaline pools, one acidic pool, and one cold plunge pool. The acidic pool was always full of elderly people (geriatric soup as Josh called it). We later learned that the acidic pool claimed to help ease joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
We enjoyed all of the hot pools and used the cold plunge a few times in between to cool off. It was 17-18°C which is pretty warm for a cold pool, so it was bearable.
While there we met a couple from Wisconsin. They were fun to chat with for a bit as they’re at the beginning of their two weeks in NZ. The woman sat in the cold pool like it was bath water. From swimming Lake Superior, she had no problem with the cold water.
After the Polynesian Spa we went to dinner at Mac’s Steakhouse to celebrate Theresa’s birthday. Her birthday was yesterday, but yesterday everything kind of fell apart and we were in a tiny town with nothing good. In hindsight we should have just drove on to Rotorua, but we didn’t. Also, since the US is 18 hours behind us, today is when all the messages are pouring in.
Mac’s Steakhouse is in a section called Street Eat with lots of restaurants. We enjoyed steak and ribs, wine and mojitos. Afterwards we went to our hotel pool and hot tubs, all geothermally heated. The pool was about the same temperature as Ed’s pool in the peak of summer. Maybe warmer. Wonderful.