Posts Tagged With: Tongariro

The Kiwi Farmstay

We knew we’d have a good few days at the next help-x as soon as we arrived. Beth and Graham have a farm outside of Wanganui, in a place called Mangamahu, but when we started they were picking kiwi fruit in their orchard in town. We arrived, got strapped into our bags and went straight to work – and it was really good fun. These particular kiwi fruits were hanging nicely at head height, so we joined the group of pickers and zoomed around the orchard and filled our bags. It was a really nice atmosphere and felt like a bit of a work out too.

Low hanging fruit

Low hanging fruit

Crib time

Crib time

After work, we followed Beth out of town to the farm, a truly epic drive. It was one of the most scenic and spectacular drives we’ve done in New Zealand, and we’d never have come close to it if it weren’t for help-x. Winding along the valley and river, with paddocks and hills and fields, we made it to the farm and then got the best news yet; the accommodation awesome! Our own place, big comfy bed and TV. Not to mention, it was set in the most amazing farm scenery. Hills rolling all over the place, forests, the river, mountains. Awesome, and a nice change from campsite cabins and backpacker hostels. We told Beth and Graham that they should charge for the authentic kiwi farm experience!

The farm

The farm

Sunrise over Mangamahu

Sunrise over Mangamahu

During our week we had a great time, doing a couple of full on days picking kiwi fruit, and then spending the others around the farm. Feeding chickens, playing with the dogs, riding around on the buggy and just walking around the place was awesome. Watching the sunrise through the misty hills was a pretty darn good way to start the day. And after a hard days picking, we relaxed in the spa.

Man's best friend

Man’s best friend

The chicken whisperer

The chicken whisperer

They also put us in touch with their neighbours, so we spent one afternoon watching sheep shearing and mustering over the most mountainous farm (in my humble opinion) ever. I even got to drive the quad bike – again, awesome.

That'll do Pig, that'll do

That’ll do Pig, that’ll do

Mustering country

Mustering country

It was a bit of a wrench to leave, but as we cruised north to Taupo we had a decent enough view. The Tongariro National Park appeared, and we passed Mounts Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). They were all snow-capped, and we had to stop several times to take photos. In Taupo we spent a couple of days with Cat, who is exploring New Zealand for the month before heading to Asia, and she’ll be back in UK just before us. It was really nice hanging out around the town, cooking in her hostel kitchen and of course the real highlight; watching Godzilla. It’s not a patch on the Broderick version.

Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, me and Ruapehu

Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, me and Ruapehu

Lake selfie

Lake selfie

After Cat left we did a hefty 20km tramp along the lakeside to Kawakawa Bay, and then treated ourselves to some half price hot pools to sooth the aching bones. The next day we left Taupo for Napier, and following the advice of our Frenzy guidebook we found some more hot pools, these ones for free! We were the only people around, perched on the side of the gorge looking down along the river. Good thing we ignored the DoC warning signs.

Over Kawakawa Bay, about 13km in!

Over Kawakawa Bay, about 13km in!

Too hot for some pool

Too hot for some pool

Before arriving in Napier, we detoured north a bit, again following the Frenzy book. In the middle of nowhere, with no one around, we parked and headed into the bush for Shine Falls. The walk itself was great, through fields divided by towering granite cliffs and then into the bush. When we arrived at the falls it was just awesome. Nearly 60 metres tall with a nice pool at the bottom.

On the way to the falls

On the way to the falls

The guide book suggests that you skinny dip here. No comment… Other than it was very cold.

Shine Falls... Chilly

Shine Falls… Chilly

Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A week of serious Hobbity fun

This week we became a mini fellowship and were joined by our awesome friend Jon, who has come to visit Middle Earth. He definitely joins Sam in The Lord of the Rings super-fan category and we have had a brilliant week travelling from Auckland to Christchurch via some of the best film locations.

Auckland reunion

Auckland reunion

After meeting in Auckland we went to the mother of all Rings spots; Hobbiton. For the recent Hobbit films, the set was rebuilt and you can now walk around the whole of the Shire, see more 40 hobbit holes including Bag End, and have a pint of ale in the Green Dragon. It was amazing! The attention to detail is incredible and it really does look like the films.

Bilbo's gaf

Bilbo’s gaf

That afternoon, we drove south towards Waitomo and had a non-LOTR, but equally geeky time for Jon’s birthday surprise, by sleeping in the cockpit of a real Vietnam bomber plane! Bizarre, but very funny!

Broadsword calling Dannyboy

Broadsword calling Dannyboy

Happy birthday Jon!

Happy birthday Jon!

On Wednesday we took on Mordor and Mount Doom, which is actually the Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe. This 22km day hike was exhausting, but amazing to walk through the volcanic landscape that does actually look like Mordor.

Mount Doom!!

Mount Doom!!

There was a lot of steep uphill climbing, with Mount Doom right next to us, then an optional extra detour to the top of Mount Tongariro for some awesome views, we passed volcanic craters, steaming vents, and finally walked the really steep descent. It took us about 7 hours and my legs were killing by the end but it was definitely worth it!

Mount Doom selfie

Mount Doom selfie

We ended our week in Wellington where Jon went on an epic full day tour to lots of different film locations and we joined him in the Weta Cave in the afternoon. This is where they made a lot of the prosthetics and special effects for the films and we had a tour of their studios to see how lots of stuff was made. Apparently two guys took two years to hand-make all of the chain mail for LOTR and they actually rubbed off their own fingerprints looping them all together.

Gandalf selfie

Gandalf selfie

The shop and mini museum were so good we had to go back the next day!

What a babe

What a babe

To finish our north island adventure we went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the Embassy Theatre, a beautiful building where all of the film premiers were held.

Now we are in Christchurch after taking the inter island ,ferry yesterday and are staying with some lovely, very distant relatives. Tonight we say goodbye to Jon who is heading off to continue his LOTR quest and we pick up a campervan to explore the South Island for three weeks.

It’s been lovely having a visitor! Safe travels Jon.

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