Home Base North
Sunday, February 7
During our trip planning, it became obvious that many of the attractions we wanted to visit on the North Island were roughly equidistant from the center of the island. And, located in the center is the town of Taupo, located on the shore of New Zealand's largest body of water, Lake Taupo. We managed to locate an attractive and spacious AirBNB house on the town's outskirts, more than large enough to comfortably house the eight of us, and at a very reasonable price. We rented the the house for a full week - a full seven days. We would use it as a comfortable base from which to branch out and explore the North Island.
So, now having finished with Hobbiton, it was now time to continue our journey to our first week's "home base" - Taupo.
New Zealand is About Sheep
The drive from the Matamata (ie - Hobbiton) area to Taupo gave us more time to soak in the New Zealand countryside. I was beginning to get an overall impression of the landscape. It was very pastoral, verdant, with lots of farms and livestock. That much I more or less expected, based on my vague and faraway northern-hemisphere impressions of New Zealand. What was more interesting was the landscape itself. Now, New Zealand has various mountains and mountain ranges, that I knew. But what I didn't realize is that, even in areas without big mountains, there is a lot of.... let's call it topographic complexity. There is always something of interest in the immediate surroundings - a sharp little hill, or some low cliffs, or a stretch of hillocky ground with interesting little drainage ravines carved through it. The landscape was rarely truly flat, and therefore rarely monotonous. Very pleasant. Very engaging.
One big benefit of having a longer-term residence was that we could cook and serve meals there. To that end, we stopped for groceries and got some road-side produce along the way, so that when we arrived, we'd be ready to make a full dinner.
Great Lake Taupo
We rolled into the greater Taupo area by about 4pm, noting the wisps and clouds of steam here and there from the many fumaroles and gas vents that are common in this area (the Lake Taupo area is an active volcanic area). Just before turning into the neighborhood where our house was located, we caught a broad view of the 40+km length of Lake Taupo, its exceptionally blue waters extending nearly to a mountain-backed horizon.
Our abode for a week
We rolled into a clean and modern neighborhood on the southern edge of the town of Taupo, where we quickly located our AirBNB house. A long, narrow driveway led up to a tidy green house surrounded by native vegetation and other nearby houses. We spent some time unpacking and familiarizing ourselves with the place, choosing who would be staying in each of the four available bedrooms / sleeping areas.
After unpacking and establishing ourselves, we used our local produce and groceries to have a very satisfying first New Zealand dinner. Afterwards, we did... not much. After our long journey from Canada followed immediately by visiting Hobbiton and four hours of driving, we needed a bit of downtime.