Day 6
March 13th, 2011 by

After all the nonsense of the day before with getting lost in a circle, today we decided to leave town on well marked roads rejecting a possibly faster but more ambiguous route. This was also perfectly acceptable to me because it meant we would pass by Matamata, also known as Hobbitton because some of the Lord of the Rings was filmed here. When they finished filming much of set was removed (the rest is part of a 2 and half hour bus tour which we didn’t feel like we had time for) but to help continue the tourism associated with the film, the town constructed statues of some of the characters.

It being Saturday, we also stumbled onto a farmers market which we enjoyed wandering around. Unlike the farmers markets that we usually visit, this was a hodgepodge of fruits and vegetables, books, crafts, and what I believe was supposed to be antiques but mostly appeared to be what people pulled out of their garages.

On our way into Waitomo we stopped at a Kiwi and other bird sanctuary. Kiwi birds are nocturnal so we weren’t allowed to take pictures, but they were just the funniest looking birds. We got to see them being fed and one continually attacked the feeder throughout the five minutes she was in the cage, apparently they are also extremely territorial. There were many other interesting native Kiwi birds, lizards, and frogs that we saw and have now seen a few of the birds in the wild, my favorite being a black and blue bird we nicknamed the “bruise bird”  because we forgot the real name.

From there we continued on to Waitomo, Waitomo is a town like Rotorua which has almost exclusively built its reputation and industry on the tourist trade. Waitomo is known for its extensive lime stone caverns and white water rafting. After seeing one of the caves we decided that while we were too tired to do a long hike a couple of short ones would be nice. We walked the Ruakuri Natural Tunnel Track which is described as one of the best short walks in the country and it was certainly impressive. The trail swoops up and around river gulleys, into caverns and through tunnels.

We also saw the Marokopa Falls waterfall. Which is a wonderful, multi-tiered monster.

Our last stop of the day was a natural rock bridge, that had been cut away by the water. The rocks here also have fossilized oysters as big as my hand.

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