Clean. Pack. Train. Wait. Plane. Customs. Hotel. Dinner. Sleep. Day 8 of Mom and Dad’s trip was basically all about the camp shift from Sydney to New Zealand.
There. That’s taken care of, now on to the more exciting stuff of the next day…
Day 9 started with an incredibly tasty Full Kiwi breakfast at a cute little country café along the road. It was so hearty! Bacon, eggs, baked beans, sausage, hash browns, lightly roasted tomato, toast, orange juice, and coffee filled us to the brim and primed us for the day. …mmmm…
Already happy, we kept going from oohs to aahs as we drove past miles of lushly green rolling hills dotted with frolicking lambs and peaceful cows, intermittently partitioned off by stolidly massive hedges, and backed by stately forest growth. So beautiful.
Finally, after a little backroads detour, we made it to the heart of Middle Earth! Hobbiton awaited us.
It may have been a little nerdy of us, but oh boy howdy did we thoroughly enjoy our tour through the jewel-toned heaven of Tolkien fans everywhere. The tour guides were wonderfully friendly and maintained their sense of humor even in the face of a surprise squall that caught hold of our umbrellas and blew them all over. The dozens of hobbit holes were perfectly adorable and fit so well into the rolling topography around them. The gardens were all exquisitely manicured into hobbit-yness, with an incredible attention to details most obvious in the faint footpaths that had been trodden down to and from the laundry lines filled with gently swaying hobbit clothes.
As a fitting end to the tour, the whole group stopped by the Green Dragon for a complementary beer or cider, finding refuge from that squall that had taken us by surprise. Even though it had only been a front during the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies and even burned down for one scene, the tavern had been rebuilt into a cozy, fully functioning retreat in which to prop up one’s feet with a stein in one hand and not a care in one’s head.
After bidding adieu to Middle Earth, we turned our heads once again towards the south, continuing on until we got to the Anchorage Resort Motel by Lake Taupo. Dinner on the outside patio of Dixie Brown’s, with blankets wrapped around our laps and heaters glowing from above, and we went to bed at the charming little motel happy little campers.