A brief visit to Middle Earth

Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
Trip End Dec 09, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, June 6, 2011

A lovely early morning sees my wine-induced hangover significantly diminished by my roommate Joel's vat of paracetamol. I see my pain as rather undeserving considering I made a conscious effort to tone down the drinking.

Anyhow, the bus makes its first touristy stop at an old goldmine where we take advantage of swing bridges and I make it a personal mission to instil as much fear as possible within the pitch black tunnels. The old run ahead, hide behind a rock, wait, and then jump out on someone you're vaguely familiar with; yes very mature I know. The lunch break takes us into a village called Matamata, otherwise known as Hobbiton from the Lord Of The Rings films. I have my picture taken with the sign and what I can only assume is a statue of Golem (although I still maintain it resembles the exact likeness of Brian).

Rotorua is an extremely volatile geothermic area and the nickname of ROT-orua is entirely relevant i.e. upon alighting the bus the stench of sulphur smacks you round the face. The hostel is okay, the communal areas are dated but it does have a swimming pool. Deciding against the stereotypically tourist option of lazing by said pool, Hannah, Matt and I go to discover some naturally occuring hot springs in the local park.

Reminded of Dante's Peak I am glad for the signs which warn of the particularly hot bodies of water. It's always handy to know the ones that are boiling mud- don't think I'll be dipping much into that.

With Hannah seemingly scared of the safe, slightly muddy, luke warm water, my name doppelganger and I have our first mandate. We get chatting to a New Zealand family where it's not long before they're passively swearing around children no older than 7. This surprises as a result of coming from the censorship of the US; but I like it, it reminds me of home and the cultured language of Crewe town centre.

My first paid travel add-on is the Maori Experience, which for $90NZ consists of a tour round a Maori village, ceremonial activities, live music performance and a meal. Although seemingly overpriced, I think it's something I must do to feel like I've experienced a rounded view of the country. The evening is pretty educational and the all-you-can-eat meal is a welcome change to my fiscally charged rationing. Although the village is just a series of props it's difficult to feel let down, I can't imagine it's practical to let hundreds of tourists traipse through an actual Maori village every day of the year.

The next day is another early start so we only go for a couple of pints at the hostel bar and then retire to bed before the lure of shots and shuffling becomes too intense.
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