by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
The Rock-itt : April 2011
At the end of last month‟s missive I had just departed Auckland, North Island New Zealand on an all too speedy journey down the middle of that country ultimately ending at Christchurch on South Island. My trip was at the start of February this year and Christchurch was just getting over some mild unpleasantness from a small earthquake, seven weeks later and Christchurch lies in ruins. What a crazy world! It was a cloudy day on the road out of Auck- land with rainy squalls, thankfully the Tom Tom can see through all that and it had us barrelling down Highway One to Hamilton or so I thought! Tom Tom didn‟t want to take the direct route so at Pokeno we took a sharp left and hit Highway Two. Yes, I was impressed they have more than one high- way too! We headed for the busy little town of Mata Mata. I didn‟t know at the time but the green rolling hills around Mata Mata, which is in the Waikato area, have been used to portray “Hobbiton” and “The Shire” in the Lord of The Rings films. Most every- where in NZ seems to claim a connection with Peter Jackson‟s films but this one actu- ally seems genuine. It was busy but on parking in the centre of town I saw a coffee shop across the road with big orange um- brellas outside highlighting its shiny brown painted woodwork. It was also next door but one to a store that sold headstones in a particularly Hobbity style but thankfully there was no room in the boot!! In for a coffee and the lovely buxom lady behind the counter is also dressed in shades of orange and brown and adds to the whole „set dressed‟ ambience of the place. I‟m wearing a blue Manly United shirt and stick out like a sore thumb. I apologise for not blending in with the décor but she says she doesn‟t demand customers play along. I did notice though, whilst I drank my „flit whate‟ that all the other customers seemed to have made the effort!! I‟m pretty sure it was the “Café on Broad- way” check it out if you are ever there....wear orange! Blasting out of Mata Mata in the trusty rent- ed Mondeo it‟s not far before we see the giant statue of a black and white cow! We are at Te Poi and we have just encountered the Te Poi Country Pub, not surprisingly known as „The Big Cow”, it serves Speight‟s beers which is always a good sign but it wasn‟t yet midday and Rotorua was well in the distance so we didn‟t bother with a re- view, next time. The countryside is very pretty, in the dis- tance off to our right we can see the rising hills of the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, there is spectacular bird watching to be had in there and it‟s apparently great to camp in. As it‟s raining heavily we press on. It‟s not that far from Auckland to Rotorua, about 235kms, 3 hours 20 minutes on NZ roads but we were keen to get there and see one of the famous geothermal sites tonight because we had a much longer six and a half hour drive down to Wellington tomorrow. 100% Pure New Zealand delivers for the outdoor person big time, loads of wilderness experiences, canoeing, white water rafting, climbing. Then there are the daft things you can do like bungy jumping or being rolled down a mountain in a giant inflatable ball! Next time I‟m here I will seriously look at doing the rail version of the journey we are on now. There is a dedicated train called the Overlander and it will get you from Auckland to Wellington for about $129 NZ. It‟s a long journey, 12 hours but with scen- ery like this and an open carriage available to let the wind run through your hair it‟s a bargain. We arrived in Rotorua expecting to be over- powered with the stench of sulphur. It‟s not quite like that but if you want to cover your- Rotorua in the distance from the Koura Lodge on the opposite bank, nice! Te Poi Country pub, AKA The Big Cow!