Hobbiton, Great Walk, and Jumping Out of a Plane!

Lord of the Rings’ Hobbiton

We took a journey to Middle Earth (aka Hobbiton) where we explored the actual set used during the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The Hobbit (in theaters Dec. 14, 2012) was partially filmed at this location the week before our visit.  Due to copyrights laws associated with the location, we are unable to post any photos of the set but we enjoyed walking around the impressive set and Curniss was ecstatic with all the lambs there were around. During a sheep shearing demonstration after the tour, she almost leapt out of her seat when the audience was asked for volunteers to feed four lambs. From Hobbiton, we headed to Rotorua with a quick stop to Wairere Falls where the wind forced water upwards into our faces rather than downwards to the rocks below.

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

The next day, Sunny was put to the test on a narrow, windy, and unpaved mountain pass leading to Te Urewera National Park where we completed our first Great Walk (the 46km Waikaremoana Lake track).  With our December 5th ferry crossing date in mind, we fast tracked the walk in just two days rather than the 3-4 days recommended by the Department of Conservation (DOC).  The route took us along the lake shore,  led us passed spectacular bluffs, and climbed over 600m topping out at 1,180m above sea level at Puketapu Trig.  A side trek recommended by a local took us to Korokoro Falls where we swam in the frigid waters and bathed beneath the falls.

Sky-Diving in Taupo

After completing the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, we made our way south to Hawks Bay to soak up some sun and swim in the Pacific before heading to the mountainous town of Taupo.  Once in Taupo, the sky diving capital of the world, it took less than an hour before we were registered to make a 15,000 foot plunge out of a plane!   The weather was perfect which allowed for amazing views of Lake Taupo (the largest lake in New Zealand), snow capped Mt. Ngauruhow (Mt. Doom), and Mt. Tangariro – our destination for tomorrow’s alpine crossing.
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