Mel's favorite excursion ~ Hobbiton is the most enchanting little village! 40 hobbit holes (each with its own distinct mail box and landscaping), incredible gardens, streams, a lake, a mill and the Green Dragon Inn where we had some non-alcoholic Ginger Beer and sat by the fireplace. Every attention to detail – from the size of the firewood to the distance of the fruit from the ground, all details straight from Tolkien’s book. To stand at Bilbo’s Bag End home, and walk down the lane where Gandalf and Frodo rode in their wagon in the opening scene -- exactly as it was in the movie.
Next off to Rotorua – an active volcanic area like Yellowstone, but it is a lived-in Maori village. Active geysers, mud pools, hot pools, and smelled like sulfur. The aboriginals keep it up and perform the haka for tourists. Next we visited an active kiwi farm… a big deal here because Australians are nicknamed kiwis, after the fruits they grow and the nocturnal birds that live here.