Week 2 was our half and half week in New Zealand – half in the North Island, half in the South.
We spent our last day in Rotorua enjoying the playgrounds, mud baths and sulphur pools. It turns out that Hell’s Gate is quite the geothermal area, which in retrospect, we should have explored. It was a bit of a hot day to be sitting in a hot sulfur pool.
Taking a dip in the Sulphur pool. The smell stayed with us for days.
I really liked Rotorua and thought it was a nice size, and it had a wide variety of things to do. The smell of sulphur was not constant, so didn’t bother me that much.
New Zealand countryside driving from Rotorua to Matamata (where The Hobbiton is).
As for The Hobbiton, I wasn’t sure what the girls and I would think of it, having not read the books or seen the movies. We all enjoyed the tour though, especially Hannah who wanted her picture taken in front of most of the doors. Amy a little less so, though she had a lot of fun at the party field.
So this is where the Hobbits live! Girls having fun at The Party Field
Despite the warnings from my mom, we didn’t have any problems with JetStar (only with Amy’s meltdown in the departure lounge).
Anthony and I liked having a full house to stay in again in Christchurch, as the ones in Auckland and Rotorua had just been the bottom level of a house.
Brockworth Cottage, 1913
We were happy with our discovery of The International Antarctic Center, and Amy in particular wants to go back. With 4D movies, a Hagglund ride (a course that simulates driving in Antarctica), and a simulated windstorm, what’s not to like!
The Hagglund. It rivals any amusement park ride! Let’s go for a ride!
The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch was a bit run down, but they have a very good Kiwi conservation program. Hannah enjoyed feeding the eels. We all got a kick out of a Kea (a very intelligent Alpine parrot), trying to get into a gentleman’s picnic basket and our bag. The girls also got a goodie bag from a company having it’s Christmas party there.
I’ve heard of feeding goats, but not eels! The Kea trying to get into our food bag.
Aokari Mount Cook
Next it was onto Aokari Mount Cook. Aokari is the Maori name for the mountain. It was about a 4 hour drive. The central part of the South Island is mainly farmland, with the mountains visible in the background. Then you come upon these stunning aquamarine lakes that give Lake Louise a run for its money. The wild lupins also add some colour to the scenery.
Lake Pukaki…just stunning! Lake Tekapo is a similar color. If you see the lupins, you’re getting close to a lake.
The Aoraki Mount Cook Village was not quite what I thought it would be. It’s in the National Park and is very tiny. For some reason, I thought we’d be higher up in altitude. The lodge we stayed in had a beautiful lounge/kitchen area with spectacular views (even if they view was fog filled!).
The Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge. The Southern Alps
Although we didn’t get out star gazing, we did enjoy the planetarium shows, as well as a 3D movie and a regular screen movie, the latter about Primeval New Zealand. We also enjoyed several games of Monopoly (the NZ version) and a couple of games of Battleship! Totally reminded me of my childhood!
I’m going to sink your ships!
On our way back to Christchurch, we stopped and hiked up to a viewpoint of the Tasman Glacier and Blue Lakes. What a disappointment as the lakes are no longer blue, and the glacier is barely there (thanks to global warming). We still had some beautiful views though.
Believe it or not, that’s the Tasman Glacier at the end of the lake…not pristine white! Reading about why the Blue Lake isn’t blue anymore (it’s no longer fed by glacier water, just rain water. The green is the algae).
Hope you enjoy these pics from New Zealand. We spend our last week in the South Island before heading to Malaysia.