Sunday September 29

We had a very nice relaxing day this past Sunday. We attended Church at 10:00 AM. Took a Gondola up to the Stratosfare Restaurant for brunch which was very good. After brunch we went for a nature walk on top of the hill where the restaurant was and heading back down via the Gondola. We finished off our day with a 5 mile hike up the hill next to our Airbnb and then settled in for a evening of good conversation with Su our amazing Airbnb host.

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We are off to Auckland today to finish off our last two days in New Zealand and then to Cape Town South Africa on October 3 to start the next leg of our journey.

While at Church today we saw a quote from Pope Francis which we thought was very appropriate for our journey and I would like to share it with you.

“This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the good.”

Slide Show

I tried putting this slide show together to put on the blog, but it was taking so long to convert the video I gave up on it and just put the individual ones on.  However seeing as I put some time into this I thought I would post it on the blog.  It is just a repeat of some of the Zip-line rides with some music added.  Hope you enjoy it.

Ziplines and Swing Bridges

Yup, you read that right – ziplines – and yes I did! It was absolutely amazing! We’ve been talking about ziplining for a while now. We were just waiting for the right place. We found it here at Rotorua, New Zealand. We chose Canopy Tours as it involved some hiking as well as tree ziplines. They just forgot to mention that the hiking was on swing bridges high up in the treetops. Yikes! Our group of 10 consisted of 8 adults all about our age and two girls aged 5 and 7. Just for the record, the children had no fear. The rest of us were a bundle of nerves. We walked into the forest and started climbing some stairs and a general incline to our first zipline. The forest was beautiful. Very green and thick with birds singing while we walked along talking quietly amongst ourselves. During our tour we found out that this company, Canopy Tours is also involved in the conservation of this forest. They have a program that is eliminating pests from the forest. These mainly consist of opossum and rats. These predators had killed off all the birds and were also killing trees. The program has been in effect for about 8 years and you can see the difference within the forest already. Part of our fee goes towards the maintenance of this conservation project.

Anyways, back to the ziplines! As you may imagine, we were all super nervous. I was wearing the GoPro on my helmet because Richard thought it would be fun to hear me scream. The waiting was probably the worst part but after you actually walk off the platform, the rest is easy. Richard has added a number of videos showing the lines (there were 6 in all) and all I can say is: it was so much fun! And the views! Can’t wait to do it again! The swing bridges on the other hand were absolutely petrifying. Don’t care if I don’t try them again!

Sit back, enjoy the video and take in the beauty of the forest! Have a great day and if it is not on your bucket list yet, make sure you add it. You won’t be sorry!

Col’s Very First Zip Line Ride: 

The Coolest Of The Rides:

One More:

The Following Are The Rest Of Our Rides And A Few Snap Shots.

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Hobbits and Glowworms

It was a day filled with fantasy, folklore and legend. Just over an hour drive through the beautiful, green countryside brought us to the Alexander sheep farm, home of Hobbiton. We registered at the desk and waited for our bus to take us out to the former movie set. Our guide was a young lady from Calgary, Alberta and she confided to us that it was only her second week at work. Vanessa did a great job with the tour and I know that she will have a great summer ahead of her as she is quite passionate about all things Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. As the bus pulled into the movie set, music and clips from the movies were playing. It may sound quite silly but it really did get the blood stirring.
We wandered through the set of hobbit holes, gardens, clotheslines and ponds all with Vanessa’s commentary as to what scene occurred at each spot. She mentioned Peter Jackson’s attention to detail, right down to the leaves on the trees and the moss on the fences. We stopped at Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins (Kim, though we did not see Bilbo in the flesh, his spirit was definitely there). We wandered across the bridge to have a beer at the Green Dragon and have conversation with some new friends from Brazil. All too soon the tour was over and we had to leave the land where fantasies come true in order to return to real life and the next adventure.
So, off to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, about another hour and a half east of Hobbiton. GPS lady got us lost on the Motorway as she does not recognize that they exist. Once off the motorway, we found our way back to the correct route and carried on as if nothing had happened. We weren’t sure what to expect with the caves. Was it all a bunch of hype? Again, we were not disappointed. Our Maori tour guide was awesome, telling us of the legends of the caves, the history of their discovery and why the glowworms choose the caves. The glowworm is the larvae stage in the life cycle of a two-winged insect. The light of the glowworm is what attracts food and because the caves are dark and damp, it can be visible in order to attract the many insects that it will feed on. The caves also held other magic in the form of stalactites (from the ceiling) and stalagmites (from the ground). These are formed by the dripping of water and the deposit of limestone crystals which form concrete like surfaces. Over thousands of years, these tites and mites eventually meet and are then called Helicti. After, the initial walk through, we were ushered into a boat and told to remain completely silent. She then pushed the boat through a series of dark caves using only suspended ropes to guide her. The glowworms shone from the ceiling and the walls. The quiet of the caves made you feel reverent and thankful that you were a part of a world that is so absolutely amazing. The boat docked at the end of a tunnel and we walked back up to the tourist centre, forever changed by the magic of the caves.

Hobbiton:

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Below is the home of the Grouchy or mean looking Hobbit.

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Sam’s Place:

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Bilbo Baggins Home:

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The bridge going to the Green Dragon:

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The entrance to the green dragon:

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Having Hobbit Beer in the Green Dragon:

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Exiting the Green Dragon:

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One last picture outside of the Green Dragon at the end of our tour.

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Our tour guide who was from Calgary Alberta. Kind of cool.

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A couple pics from the Glowworm Caves. We were not allowed to take pictures in the caves:

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Chief Richard and a Pride of Lions

For a day that started without any plans, we managed to fill it up pretty well. We had been wanting to go to a Maori hangi and show while we were here. Our hostess Su suggested that we try Mitai as she had heard good things about them. We read the reviews, liked what we saw  and booked them for their evening show and dinner. While we were booking, we also booked our BNB for two nights in Auckland, 10 nights in Capetown and a flight from Capetown to Johannesburg. Quite a lot accomplished in one morning!! Looking for something to do for the afternoon, Su’s other guest Plamy, a lovely young lady from Auckland, suggested that we go to the lion park just up the road. What?!?! A lion park up the road – what are we waiting for? And it was indeed just up the road – maybe 5 kms from where we are staying – Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park. It was actually a beautiful park with lots of trout streams, birds, ducks goats, pigs, sheep, wallabies, deer, a miniature horse and of course, the lions. There were eight lions in total – 3 males and 5 female. It was feeding time so they were all along the fence waiting for dinner. It is the first time Richard and I have ever seen a real lion up that close. What beautiful animals! What big paws they have! What big teeth they have!! When they roar, it gives you shivers down the spine. Thankfully there was an nice big fence between them and us. We spent about 30 minutes or more at the lion enclosure before heading back to the suite. We had to get ready for the hangi!!

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Mitai Maori Village did not disappoint. It was a combination of walking through the village listening to a commentary, watching a solemn peace offering ritual, a show of song, dance and war chants and of course, the hangi (fabulous meal). As we were walking around the village, we found ourselves at the front of the line talking to the guide. Of course he and Richard were teasing each other back and forth and the next thing you know, the guide is calling him Chief Richard and telling him that he will be taking part in the welcoming ceremony. Was he joking? On the contrary – Richard was indeed appointed Chief of our Tribe of Many Nations and was taking part in the very solemn peace offering ceremony. The attached video says it all and as the Chieftess, I was very proud. We have also attached some video of the show and pictures of the feast. It was a wonderful night!!

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So, off to Hobbiton and the Glow Worm caves today. Should be a great day!!

Rivendell

It was a big day for Col and I.  We are huge Lord of the Rings fans  and we had a chance to visit Kaitoke Regional Park,  which is home to where the set of Rivendell was set up.  For those of you who are not fans, Rivendell was home to the Elves.  The park is just a short drive from Wellington which is the capital of New Zealand.  It was raining and I only had my phone to take pictures so they may not be that good.

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This next picture is where most of the set was, but as you can see it has been almost completely taken down.  Almost, there is one item left from the set which I will show further down.

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The tree mentioned above is the one Below.

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The picture above explains the scene when the Fellowship of the Ring leaves Rivendell to begin their quest and the pictures below are of the Arch which is still there.

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The End

On The Road

Some pics from our day on the road as we make our way to the North Island.

The audio in this next video does come through very well because it was so windy. This was the first time since we have been in New Zealand that we have looked on landscape that was not green.