We spend some good times in Rotorua with Lou, and also with Matthijs and Petra again. Ivar and Matthijs explore the 160 km on single tracks on a full suspension MTB at the Rotorua mountainbike park (and have fun with the gopro), while Petra and Anneke brave the stiffling smells of the geothermal active areas and go wild with their cameras instead.
Then it is time to hit the road again. We find ourselves a huge red monster, with four wheels and a roof. Our bikes can (happily?) rest in the back and we have to adjust ourselves to a different way of travelling. It feels very strange! We rent a car because we feel that the coming part is less interesting to bike and for sure more busy on the road. Plus on top of that the areas we want to see are too far cycling for the time we still have left in New Zealand. First stop is Hobbiton, the filmset of LOTR and The Hobbit. Fortunately we directly get to go with the next tour 10 minutes after our arrival and we walk around the whole movie set location with 44 hobbit holes, and get some interesting insights into the shooting of the films. It sure is commercial, but is also special to be walking around hobbit holes and drinking a nice specially brewed beer in the Green Dragon Inn.
As the weather is very unpredictable and autumn is showing itself, we make a change of plans. After meeting up by pure coincidence with Marc and Katharina again at Waihi Beach, we decide to drive southwards to sunny Napier on the south-eastcoast instead of north to Coromandel and all the way up to Northland.
Napier calls itself the art-deco capital of the world and the city tour that we take explains it all. We enjoy sunny days with relaxing on the campsite in the bay before we drive north again facing rain, grey skies and stormy winds. The day after we hear about flooding and evacuation of tourists in Franz Jozef (South Island) and heavy duty rain in Auckland and westcoast of North Island. We are in a relatively stable zone and continue our journey to Whitianga on the Coromandel where we stay for 3 days at a beautiful wooden-logged farmhouse B&B. The weather is good again, but due Easter weekend the whole of Coromandel is quite busy. We set out to explore the Coromandel by car, by foot and by kayak and enjoy the sun, the beaches and the view. Life is relaxed and good. 3 Months is a long time, but unfortunately also 3 months comes to an end at some point in time. The last 2 days we spend driving to Auckland where we fly back from and pack up all our stuff and make it ready for our flight home.
The flight from Auckland to Dubai took 17hours and 15 minutes, which is the longest flight in the world. It really is a long flight, especially when there are 3 kids on the row behind you, attended by a mom who cannot control her kids… Luckily we didn’t have a long stop in Dubai, and the flight to Amsterdam was relatively calm. We now have to sort all the photos (about 2500) and going through 14hours of video material. Hopefully we can make a nice compilation movie soon and post it here on the blog!