Geoff managed to find a beautiful free campsite! Apart from the stinky loos that is! Elodie said they made her feel sick! We quickly put up the soaking wet tent, as it rained quite heavily last night. The tent is not as water proof as one would hope! Seaping in at the seams. Our sleeping compartment was sitting in a puddle…. luckily we stayed dry. Elodie was heard to say ‘that tent hasn’t got much proof’! The forgot highway fromTauramanui to Stratford was my favourite drive so far. Almost deserted, beautiflul scenery and a great place at the end! We were going to stop halfway along, but Pearl didn’t like the track to the campsite. She sits rather low to the ground with all the gang plus stuff, and scrapes vital underparts when she doesnt like a bump! Geoff seems to like to aim for random bumps in the road. He claims this is not on purpose, but I see no other explanation. The bumps are right there for all to see!!!! Anyway, I digress. This track was practicality solid scrap, so we reversed and pushed on to Stratford. If we had had less time we would have sailed through here, with a cursory glance at the clock tower, which would have been a shame. We found a pretty little campsite with pool and great playground close by. Papa, R and O discovered ‘the last Jedi ‘ in a little lesser known cinema which caused much pre Xmas excitement! The clock tower did a little Shakespeare performance at 7. All street names are Shakespeare characters. Orlando was pleased to find his! We visited two beautiful English style gardens near the slopes of Mt Taranaki. We missed the rhododendrons but the agapanthus and hydrangea were spectacular! We walked up to Dawson Falls, with beautiful crystal clear pools at the end. Some locals were using the rock as a slide, so Orlando gave it a try! The water was glacial, being pure snowmelt! R and E managed up to their waists! Next stop the surf highway! Oakura is just south of New Plymouth. Tent practically on the beach! Orlando and papa surfed. Water pretty freezing here. We didn’t really visit much of the town as the beach was so pleasant, but there isite had a little museum and great library. We met a French couple setting up a little crêpe cabin. At $7 a crêpe Geoff was less than keen. He forked out for 2 nutella and 1 salted caramel crêpes in the end though as they were so nice!
Holly branch tree
So, Hobbiton! Matamata, though a pleasant enough town, must have been a bit if a backwater before the LOTR. Huge numbers of tourists pop in here to visit the site of the hobbit holes. The information centre has been beautifully renovated in hobbit style, and the trio were pleased to find a statue of smeagol inside! Much exitement as we boarded the bus! Our Scottish guide was amusing, and Hobbiton was beautifully preserved. Lots of little hobbit doors, little personalised gardens with honey, woodwork, cheese making ect and little cloths lines with hobbit cloths on! Brilliant to see Sam”s house and Bag End as well as the party tree and Gandalf path. Can’t wait to watch the films again! Great outing, if a little pricey. I asked one of the men in the campsite I’d he had been. ‘No way’ he replied ‘i’m local, I can’t afford that!’