Day 11: Auckland - Matamata - Rotorua
6 January 2010
1200km - map

We got underway quickly this morning as we had a lot of driving to do and the rest area had nothing going for it to make us stay! Heading back through Auckland, we stopped for a couple of hours skiing at Snow Planet, an indoor ski slope. We figured we ought to get some skiing in this year even if it is indoors. It was quite a shock to the system, being around 30° outside and -5° inside. So cold in fact that I had to buy some gloves after about 20 minutes as my fingers were really suffering in the cold. It was around £40 for skiing and skis and boot hire which wasn't so cheap for the two hours we were there, but for the same price we could (in theory) have stayed all day which is really good value for money. We didn't have all day unfortunately so we got back on the road.

Heading south into Auckland we used the only toll road in the country spending a whole £1 for the priviledge to drive on it its full length of about 15km. This lead us into Auckland where we promptly got lost for a while before eventually finding our way to Mount Eden, a sacred hilltop to the Mauri overlooking all of Auckland - a great photo opportunity.

On the road again we headed to a town called Matamata hoping to visit the film set used in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for Hobbiton and the Shires. We couldn't find any signs to this (over-hyped?) tourist attraction so went to the information office only to find it closed for the day but showing signs in the window for the film set tours which last for more than two and a half hours - not worth it we decided.

We drove on towards Rotorua, stopping for the night at a campsite just outside the city on the shore of Lake Rotorua. A much needed shower and a BLT sandwich for dinner all washed down with a couple of beers as the sun went down. Lovely.

Snow Planet, Auckland
Mount Eden
Lake Rotorua