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Feb
18

We enjoyed dinner last night at the Speights Ale House which is in the refurbished Customs Building in Greymouth. The refit was beautifully done and the food and service great.

We woke to calm weather and sunshine soon after we headed off so thought we may get to have our helicopter flight over Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, but cloud came in and it didn’t happen. We have another couple of chances of flights before the end of the trip so we will see what eventuates. We had breakfast at Hokitika which in its day was the 3rd largest Port in the world! It’s a town set up with gold money and has the grand layout and large buildings albeit some in a state of decay that you would expect. I notice they also have helicopter flights over the glaciers and Mt Cook so perhaps this might be a better option early in the day next year.

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Speights Ale House, former Customs Building.

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Greymouth station platform. Very quaint.

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Our breakfast spot in Hokitika. All kinds of yummy and some great quoted around the shop which was great.

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The Library.

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St Mary’s Catholic Church, dwarfs most of the town. Bizarre.

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The sky still looked promising here.

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Whataroa River. Impressive.

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Franz Josef Glacier and the path it has previously gouged out of the hillside.

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And a closer look, we weren’t going to walk the extra kilometre to still not get to the front.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Sundowner Motel

14 Smith Street

Greymouth NZ 7805

Forgot the pic, check it out on Google if you want to see it.

On the fringe of town and steep site but level spot to park the bikes.  Welcoming and helpful hosts. Comfortable room and facilities with the capacity to be self-contained if wanted. Room to spread out our kit. Comfortable bed. Heated Lowell rai ideal to dry our wet bike gear. Free Wi-Fi. The best shower (heat and volume) we’ve had since we’ve been in NZ.


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Feb
17

It’s been a spectacular day from start to finish and I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Weka Pass not far out of Hanmer Springs.

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Coffee in Oxford.

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Waimakariri River.

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Looking back to where we’ve come from and still 60km from Arthurs Pass.

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Castle Hill.

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Pearson Lake.

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First sight of snow since we landed.

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A Viaduct we were about to ride over. The photo doesn’t show the 16% grade fall on it. Incredible!

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Reid Falls over the road. There had been major subsidence and wash outs below this point which was to our advantage as there were traffic lights and 1-way traffic so we got to stop for pics. All kinds of awesome.

Last 2 nights’ accommodation:

Hanmer Inn Motel

16 Jacks Pass Road

Hanmer Springs NZ 7334

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A lovely retreat to pull into at the end of a big day riding. The property offers serviced and self-contained suites along with awesomely friendly and helpful attention and service by the owners. The rooms are beautifully presented with functional and attractive furnishings and it would be impossible not to feel comfortable. Bed nice and comfortable. No air-conditioning but it is an Alpine area so not really needed. There is a fan available and heating options as well as electric blankets, and perhaps a small thing but windows and doors which close tightly. We chose this one from a couple of options because it was a reasonable price and in easy walking distance to the shops and many dining options and it is just that. Pretty level going also so not taxing. A guest laundry and free parking are on site. Unlimited Wi-Fi and a great speed as well. Yay! Would be somewhere we would return to.


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Feb
16

Heavy rain overnight and again this morning. I had already decided to have a chill day today, but Norm wanted to check out an alternate route to yesterday’s ride so planned to leave around 7 …which ended up being around 9.30 which was some time before the rain stopped and brilliant sunshine followed ever so briefly. I wandered around the little village between misty showers and found the village is totally unpretentious and delightful and then had a massage in the afternoon, as I do when I can. I am on holidays after all. Norm on the other hand encountered more sunshine and texted me 2 photos only … both of his bike of course. He redeemed himself by also taking a couple of others as well

 

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A misty morning in Hanmer Springs …. and for most of the day.

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Some of the remains of the Queen Mary Hospital 1916 – 2003 which treated soldiers post WW I and WW II as well as acting as a sanitorium and covering several other health areas over the years. The buildings are now deserted but the community has preserved the site. I hope they can find long term use for them, so they don’t deteriorate any further. Reminded me of my early days in nursing forever ago.

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And the spa, on the same site as the original hospital where one used ‘to take to the waters’ and still do both locals and tourists alike.

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Just lounging about here, but also lots of space for those who want to relax more enthusiastically with slides and much squealing.

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Maruia Falls, very nice.

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A sample of lots of the greenery we rode through yesterday and he again today.

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And of course, the bike early in the day (the first one I got).

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And we should have had a panorama shot. The bridge and part of the valley outside Hanmer Springs.

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And then the second shot of the bike not long before he got back with the huge valley behind around 500 - 600m across he estimates.


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Feb
15

There was heavy rain overnight, but roads weren’t wet for long today. We started off with more magnificent coastal views, then a stop for breakfast in Greymouth which seemed a bit of a shock to the senses after awesome rural views then off to discover much dairy, beef and venison farming on very pretty countryside and a coffee at Reefton, an old gold mining town reminiscent of a larger version of Walhalla. From here we climbed into the Lewis Pass which was full of beautifully lush conifers and ferns, a break for lunch at Maruia Hot Springs and ultimately great rock-strewn valleys as the land levelled out for the Alpine Village of Hanmer Springs which is probably the most quirky and picturesque alpine village we’ve come across.  

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Specie coastal view soon after we leave Pancake Rock.

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And again.

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Greymouth Port. A short walk from our breakfast spot.

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Main street Reefton.

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Awesome Lewis Pass view.

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More of the same over Norm’s shoulder, so where we’ve already been.

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And into Hanmer Springs.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Punakaiki Resort

State Highway 6

Punakaiki NZ

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A stunning property half on one side of the highway and the other on the other side connected by an underpass. We had a lovely suite well up the hill with a spectacular view over the ocean and I loaded up the photos for the blog but with a 1GB limit didn’t get it finished. Mmm, should be unlimited. We dined in the restaurant which was beautiful, and the food was great. The unit is spacious clean well provisioned comfortable and beautifully presented. Feel very spoilt. Feels like perfection after a big day on the bikes. Well done guys, your service was friendly and attentive, and your resort just wrapped itself around us.


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Feb
14

We enjoyed a short walk down to the town last night for dinner in a street closed off as a mall with heaps of places to choose from. I liked Nelson which was a surprisingly big and vibrant town which somehow reminded me of Launceston in Tassie, not sure what it was, could be some of the architecture and just look and feel of it.

Today was just a glorious day of riding with beautiful bendy roads, not too much tight stuff and not all that much traffic we couldn’t get past and the scenery was all kinds of spectacular from rolling hills and rugged mountains to scoured limestone cliff faces and finally the pancake rocks and blow hole in Punakaiki. Could have taken 2 days to do the same distance just to get a fraction of the ooh and aah shots we rode by. We really are fortunate to be here …. And yes, I know there are lots of photos but today Norm took 91 and I took 93 so very restrained … just saying!

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Dinner was lovely in the outdoors and the vibe in the town was lovely … delicious burger and local beer as well.

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First stop was Wakefield which was evacuated with the Nelson bushfires last week and beyond. They have been back for 3 days though still some side roads closed off by police. This was our breakfast spot and below is the sign outside their door. Great to see.

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All sorts of quirky geography as we ride.

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Stopped for a great photo of water and cliff face…...

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To find out it is a 1-way road under an overhang. Quirky again.

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Main street Westport which was our lunch spot.

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Saw the sign for Cape Foulwind and just had to see it…..had a giggle on the way seeing a B&B called (Sea Whispers) which sort of didn’t match with the picture I had in my brain. This is the current lighthouse built in 1926 and the remains of the foundations of the original timber one built in 1876.

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Returning to the main road from Cape Foulwind. Gorgeous views again.

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The things we do to get great pics. There was a sign 10km out and this was around a 25km signed corner, I think it should have been a 15 km, but we are in an allowed spot, just the end of it.

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And this was one of the great views.

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Another rugged cliff face on the way to Punakaiki.

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An example of Pancake Rocks. Limestone which has been scoured by water making its way through. Incredible sight. Some of it looks artificial.

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And again,

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And some faces as well.

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Awesome Cliff face again.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Century Park Motor Lodge

197 Rutherford Street

Nelson NZ 7010

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A stunning property which was obvious from the moment we rode our bikes up to reception. The whole property inside and out is immaculately clean and tastefully presented. We were met with a friendly and knowledgeable welcome by owners who couldn’t do enough to maker us feel welcome and valued. The unit was beautiful and was a FOC upgrade as they needed to rearrange other customers to suit another booking, so we had a roomy self-contained unit well supplied as well as a balcony which allowed a delightful cool breeze. Air-conditioning Yay. Walking distance to many dining options. Beautifully comfortable bed. Parking on site, no charge … and the owners asked if we wanted to put our bikes in their grange so of course we said yes and free Wi-Fi but for some reason wouldn’t hook up for me to do my blog. Not sure if it was a capacity issue or what. Information booklet comprehensive and all bases covered. Very impressive. Well done guys!


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Feb
13

Our hotel last night was a short walk to the waterfront which was rather cute and historic at the same time so there were lots of eating options as well as having the advantage that it was only 5 minutes to the Interislander Ferry this morning to head to the South Island. The Ferry was obviously a newer edition to the fleet than the one we came north on so more options to sit and a really smooth passage as well. Once we landed, we headed straight off north west around the top of the South Island and headed via some awesome climbing and bendy roads to Nelson which is a large town and has a huge working port.

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Beautiful historic building right on the waterfront in Wellington.

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And another, this one used to be the Bond Store in very early years now it’s the Wellington Museum.

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A work shot of the Wellington Harbour. I had tried to get a shot of a departing cruise liner, but I missed it.

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And plenty of modern buildings around as well. 

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Looking back at the harbour as the ferry turns around to get underway.

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Was a lovely sunny passage and the views of the water inlets and harbours were beautiful.

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The Sister Ferry heading in the opposite direction.

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Picton Harbour from a vantage point soon after we headed off. That’s our ferry in the background.

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Another work shot in Nelson as a commercial vessel heads off from Nelson Harbour.

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A view of a small part of Nelson from a very steep residential street.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Ibis Wellington

153 Featherstone Street

Wellington NZ 6140

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A small studio suite but functional all the same. Air-conditioning. Yay! Small but well-appointed bathroom. Room to sit and literally in the heart of the city. Staff terrifically helpful and welcoming. Parking available under the building, another Yay. Restaurant and bar on site so well catered for if you don’t want to venture out. Free Wi-fi and only 5 minutes to the Interislander Ferry so very handy.


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Feb
12

Palmerston North is one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand or so the brochure says. There are many lovely buildings and a university (Massey) which by the size of the trees surrounding it and several older buildings has been here a long time. Like most universities there is much new building occurring as well as a Vetinary Training Hospital and all sorts of other Agricultural areas represented. There is also a Military base close by and someone must have been misbehaving this morning as we got rounded up by 2 police cars then a Military police car as we were heading to our breakfast spot. We headed off after a nice breakfast on the square and had a lovely albeit short riding day including a ride back over the Saddle as well as over a challenging pass between Featherston and Pakuratahi. There were signs up warning it was a high risk motorbike route and let me tell you it wasn’t from the road, that was in great condition and a good width in spite of the bends, the risk was from the gale force winds on some faces of the hills and we had to make sure we stuck to the middle of the lane we had available and keep enough revs up to ride through the wind rather than be tipped over by it. A bit hairy in patches.

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The Square in the middle of town in Palmerston North was once the cross over point of the trunk line rail lines, now it’s a lovely green spot with many gardens, sculpture water and ducks. This is the town square clock in the middle.

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The Building where our breakfast Café was, Cafe Express.

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And some more close by. On our way out I saw a lovely old Art Deco Theatre named the J C Williamson Theatre.

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A very poor shot over the top of the saddle. We had gone through some drizzle and the sky was very grey. Shame, the outlook is lovely.

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The Tui Brewery, been brewing beer since 1889 south of Woodville. One of the locals told us they use the water from the local river because it’ the right colour and the locals used to call it swamp river. Gotta love the locals.

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Typical of a lot of the lovely countryside we rode through between Masterton & Carterton. A lot of it wasn’t as sedate as this but we take a shot when we can.

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We lunched across the road from here and the shop face appealed to Norm with the old Bedford radiator grille displayed.

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 A pull over for a quick pic on the pass between Featherston and Pakuratahi. Couldn't put the stand down to park the bike it was so steep it kept rolling off even in gear. Looks flat in the pic. Weird.

 Last nights’ accommodation:

Rose City Motel

120 – 122 Fitzherbert Avenue

Palmerston North NZ

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A lovely newly refurbished studio unit and looked and felt nice and fresh and clean. Very roomy with couch and arm chair, dining area and a kitchenette with a hotplate microwave and fridge. No air-conditioning but a fan. Generous size bathroom. Large TV and fast Wi-Fi. Great effort.


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Feb
11

Headed off early this morning and grabbed a look at the Huka Falls which always amaze us. They are in the narrowest section of the Waikato River which is the only outlet from Lake Taupo and the volume of water there even at the end of summer is phenomenal. Then it was breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo and then we continued with what was a lovely ride through rolling farmland, high country resembling Scotland 1,035m above sea level and very chilly with the ground covered with what resembled heather interspersed with grasses and in the distance mountains with traces of snow on them. We had lunch at the little town of Taihape then explored more rugged countryside where sheep and cattle grazed on rugged hills or great plateaus and for good measure great cuttings of the waterways into the hill faces leaving what looks like massive clay faces. All kinds of spectacular.

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Huka Falls from the lookout above. To the right above the Huka Lodge, a runaway spot for the rich and famous is visible.

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Breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo.

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And we weren’t the only ones having fun.

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Another shot a bit further along the Lake.

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Through the high country. You can see the mauve of the heather, but it’s blurred as Norm was mobile, but you get the idea. That's Mt Ruapehu & Mt Gotongariro in the background.

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Welcome to Taihape, a clever (big) Gumboot built from corrugated iron.

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A shearing shed with a very quirky mural.

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And when the hill is undermined by the water it washes down into the stream and leaves some spectacular cliff faces. We followed this trail for many kilometres and were staggered by how many we saw.

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From the Stormy Point Lookout on the way to Fielding.

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Norm having fun.

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And me as well.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Quest Rotorua Central

1192 Hinemoa Street

Rotorua NZ 3010

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A lovely spot to stay here. A 1-bedroom apartment with air conditioning, Yay! Plenty of room to move and sort out our gear and be self-contained if we wanted to be. Also, a hot tub on the balcony but we haven’t been inspired to try that. The bed is beautifully comfortable, Wi-Fi fast and heaps of free movies and all sorts of attractions advertised on the TV which the hotel can book for us so a handy service for visitors. Staff extremely welcome and helpful. All round nice spot to stay and handy to heaps of shops and spots for dining out. Very nice.


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Feb
10

We slept in until 10am then grabbed some breakfast at the farmers market just a short walk from our hotel then jumped on the bikes to explore the Californian Redwood Forest which was planted by a pastor many years ago believing with the NZ rainfall it would be a great source of sustainable timber. Unfortunately, because of the rain it grew too fast and remains too soft to suit the purpose but is an amazing forest to experience.

From there we headed out to have a look at the Blue and Green lakes then back into town to check out the Hot water baths and museum, had some nachos and beer at an Irish pub … that means we are really on holiday as it’s the only time we do that. 

Rotorua is renowned for its hot sulphur springs and baths and depending on which way the wind is blowing can influence the comfort levels. Norm has been reminding himself to stop attempting to apologise all the time …and that’s all I’m going to say about that.   

Rotorua is also a great spot for all sorts of activities if youre feeling a lot less creaky than me and you will just have to come and find out for yourselves.

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In the Redwoods.

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And again.

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And the two of us.

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The Blue lake is a favourite swimming spot for the locals.

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This was the view I was after …. A photo of a photo in our hotel. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong season for tulips and there are major repair works happening so the following is what we got instead.

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And looking towards the hot water baths.

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And a good-looking bike at the gate to the complex. The last time we stayed here we were in an historic hotel across the road from here. It was very quirky.


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Feb
09

Our accommodation last night didn’t have an on-site restaurant as such but thankfully with 3 hours’ notice a meal can be provided in the conservatory which was great since we were a few kilometres from the shops, and we like to get off the bikes after our day and stay off. The room was lovely and beautifully presented and we had a small balcony to sit on and chill in the breeze, well I did as I did the blog and Norm took the Mr Sheen to the bikes … as he does. I am a lucky girl!

Today we headed to Rotorua with a couple of spots of interest on the way. Apart from the great ride we checked out the Te Tapui Reserve trying to find a lookout and after a good distance on gravel roads were grateful to come across a farm worker who assured us unless we wanted to hike through forest we wouldn’t get there so we headed back to the black stuff and continued on to the Hobbiton Movie Set which was a great experience then headed into Rotorua for a couple of nights.

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Breakfast in Huntly and discovered it used to be a black coal mining town (there is still a large power station using coal and gas) until 1914 when an explosion, the second worst mining disaster in New Zealand occurred killing 43 and injuring another 19. Not surprisingly the mine closed soon after. The town appears to be still struggling with many empty shops. This is part of a 100-year memorial near our breakfast spot.

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Morning Coffee at Morrinsville, a tidy town amid a productive dairying area. Norm was a bit miffed that I parked up more easily than him.

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One of the more memorable buildings in the main street and 2 of many artistically decorated cows!

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Then to the Hobbiton sight and one of many Hobbit houses. Very quirky.

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The visitors in the only hobbit house we could go in because it was larger than a meter square space.

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A long view to the Green Dragon where we had a delicious ginger beer.

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The artificial oak tree since the film was filmed in winter and it needed to be in full leaf. A steel and foam frame and 200,000 + artificial leaves wired on…. now that’s commitment.

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The Green Dragon and my own hobbit taking a photo to the left.

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And a view back to the mill to the right of the bridge. Just loved the huge pine trees which gave an awesome backdrop to everything.

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And dinner at the Pig & Whistle in Rotorua which we discovered on our first trip to Rotorua.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Manor Views

24 Upland Road

Waterview Heights, Huntly NZ 3700

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A beautiful old building built in 1926 as a maternity hospital which has been lovingly restored into a boutique accommodation venue. The room is a standard king and the largest we have had so far. There is also a small balcony which was a nice spot to sit and take in the view in the distance and a cooling breeze. Free Wi-Fi as we have found everywhere but it is a good speed here where some haven’t been. Everything here is immaculately maintained and beautifully clean and the manager or owner was extremely obliging. We felt very welcome. The conservatory where we had our dinner (ordered 3 hrs before) and where you can have breakfast was just beautiful.


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