Day 3 – Cathedral Cove

Staying at Tatahi Lodge Beach Resort Hahei New Zealand

Woke up early this morning to hike to Cathedral Cove for sunrise.  It was about an hours walk from our hotel.  We pack our headlamps for just such an occasion.  Cathedral Cove was featured in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) and that is why we chose to visit.

After checking out of our hotel, we drove to Matamata New Zealand and then to Hobbiton the movie set from The Hobbit movies.  We all enjoyed touring the Shire since we are all fans of the movies.

It was a very nice guided tour.  Except for a few, each Hobbit hole is only a facade.  Our guide talked about how they are different sizes to allow for Gandalf to appear seven-feet tall while making Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and all the other Hobbits to appear small in stature.  Each hole also has a theme.  There is a fisherman’s hole, a bee keeper’s hole, and other themed holes.

Our guide was very knowledgeable in trivia about the movies and their production.  Hobbiton was actually build for The Hobbit Movies, but not the Lord of the Rings movies.  The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton set was similar, but made of plastic and was torn down after filming was completed.

The guide spoke about all the gardeners and horticulturist employed by the site.  Each gardener is assigned four holes.  They maintain all the plants and keep the lawns trimmed.  While we were there, all the gardeners were having a pumpkin growing competition to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin.  He pointed out where several of the pumpkins had shades over them to protect them from the sun.  It should be obvious, but all the plants are real, nothing is artificial or plastic.

After touring Hobbiton, we drove to Rotorua New Zealand were we are staying at the Millennium Hotel.  We were all thinking mexican for dinner tonight.  I imagined having a Speedy-G with margaritas.  We consulted TripAdvisor and found the #1 Mexican restaurant in Rotorua, El Mexicano Zapata.  There are two locations near our hotel and I chose the one that was the shortest walk.  Unfortunately, this was the Take-Away location and did not offer margaritas.  I was too tire to walk to the other location, so we decided to eat here anyway.  The food was generous and very good.

Day 2 – Auckland

This morning we finished our exploration of Auckland with breakfast at the Federal Delicatessen. Afterwards, we strolled around the area where our hotel, The Crowne Plaza, is located.

After checking out of our hotel, we took a taxi to the Apex Rental Car location in the Auckland CBD. Before leaving the hotel, I apologized to my family and admitted that I was quite nervous about driving on the left side of the road on the right side of the car. I’ve never driven in a country that drives on the left hand side of the road. It turned out to not as difficult as I imagined.

After picking up the rental car we immediate drove to Hahei New Zealand where we are staying at the Tatahi Lodge Beach Resort.  A lovely hotel in this beach town in the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand.  After getting check in and eating lunch, we drove over to Hot Water Beach to experience it and walk on the beach.

Day 1 – Exploring Auckland

This morning we walked around Auckland. We had breakfast at Fond(ou) Cafe. This afternoon we took the ferry to Waiheke Island. A very nice boat ride to a very beautiful island. We took a hop-on-hop-off bus to Onetangi Beach where we walked on the beach and ate lunch.

I drank my first Bundaburg Ginger Beer. It was the best ginger beer I’ve ever had. I thought is was just distributed in Australia and surrounding regions, but the company’s website indicates it’s available in Alpharetta. I’ll have to look for it when I get home.

Tonight we went to the top of the Auckland Sky Tower at sunset and then went out to dinner at Da Vinci’s Restaurant just down the street from our hotel. The sunset was spectacular and so was the pizza at Da Vinci’s.

Shari and Albert from the Sky Tower

Arrived in Auckland New Zealand

We arrived in Auckland. At the airport we were screened for environmental hazards. I had a little bit of mud on my hiking boots and the officer took them and rinsed the mud off.

Taxi to our hotel. We are staying at the Crowne Plaza on Albert street in the Central Business District (CBD).

Went to the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph for Ash Wednesday. The service was a combined service with the Anglican Cathedral of Holy Trinity. It was a very nice service and included a lot of native Maori songs.

Selfie with ashes