Sitting on the doorstep of Bag End and looking out over the Shire, I remembered my English teacher who first introduced me to the endearing Hobbits and the spell of The Ring. On my last visit to New Zealand, I followed the Fellowship to Rivendell, huddled under the tree roots in fear of the Ring Wraiths and came to Isengard imagining an Orc behind every tree!
It was a magical journey. In between I traced some of my favourite places in North Island and even visited some new ones that I've explored with my customers through brochures.
New Zealand is just wonderful for driving – a car or a motorhome – the roads are easy and traffic free. You can set your own pace and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. My trip was a volcanoes and lakes experience – a geologist's paradise, and I discovered how fragile is our earth, and how unpredictable are her moods! On my visit to White Island, in a landscape as strange as a Startrek scene, complete with hissing fumeroles, glittering crystals and steaming mounds I stood hard-hatted and gas-masked on the edge of a mighty crater.
The next day we flew by helicopter to the top of Mount Tarawera, I learned how the volcano unexpectedly erupted and destroyed peaceful villages and beautiful countryside, including the famous 'Pink and White' terraces. Later we sailed on the lake which was formed by this eruption, and cruised amidst one of the world's newest eco systems.
Everyone visits Roturua and Whakarewarewa, which are so famous, but I can show you hidden treasures in Roturua, away from the tourist crowds.
Leaving Wellington and North Island behind, I had a whistlestop visit to the north of South Island, flying to Kaikoura, in search of whales. Several different species of whales can be seen here, but the most common are the huge sperm whales. Flukes lifting clear and high before the start of a deep dive – a photo that lots of my customers bring to show me!
I took the road over the alps, after a lovely afternoon sitting in the hot pools at Hanmer Springs, and that night I enjoyed a good fish supper at Punakaiki – the "pancake rocks".
I was looking forward to leaving my car at Greymouth and travelling back across the mountains on the Trans Alpine Railway. It was everything I expected, and more! The scenery, the train, and the 20 minute stop where I stretched my legs at Arthur's Pass. I arrived happy and exhausted in Christchurch that evening – it was like coming home arriving in this beautiful Cathedral city, time for (a lot of) last minute shopping before I flew away West and waved a fond farewell! I peered out of the aeroplane window… could that be Gandalf waving back in his peaked white hat?!
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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!