Good afternoon from the sofa here in Glendowie, where I am snuggled in a blanket, drinking juice, and thankful for my box of Kleenex. We all have some sort of ick that we're hoping to fight off before we leave for the weekend tomorrow. And with a weekend trip planned, here are last weekend's photos from Matamata and Wairere Falls, about 2 hours south of here.
It was a realllllly beautiful drive down there with all the green and cows and sheep. And we did get to see something I've been looking for. My friend, Andrea, who's from here originally, explained that because they have always had to import so many things, people got used to making use of whatever way they had and that we'd see fences made from old doors and windows, etc. So, I finally saw this and was very happy.
Back on track though, Matamata is the closest town to the enormous sheep farm that hosts Hobbiton, where the Hobbits live (duh!), if you're not a big Lord of the Rings fan. You can take a tour with other geeks from all over the world. Trey and I were ready to barf by the time we got there, so we opted out of boarding a bus full of people and instead had Second Breakfast (my favorite part of the whole LoTR culture -- well that and Aragorn, of course!) at the café. Dennis and Laurel thought the tour was way cool, though, and I wish I hadn't been so nauseous.
Also while Trey and I waited, we got to see a real live sheep happening! The farmer had a pen full of all of these super round sheep and he was putting numbers around their necks, so of course I asked him, dude what on earth are you doing? And he explained that these particular sheep were pregnant with triplets! Out of 3500 pregnant sheep, 150 were having triplets. And he was marking them so that they could then match up the babies with their moms when they deliver, which looked to be very soon. The very sweet sheep dog was also there and we watched her do an excellent job of herding these poor rotund creatures out into their pasture afterward. She was seriously into her work. It was just like Babe but without any pigs.
They're about to start filming The Hobbit and apparently the set is really coming along. Here's something we thought was interesting -- even though it's a working set of a movie that should by all rights be HUGE as its predecessors were, they still let you take the tour, take photos and video and just ask that you please (in their very lovely accent) not share them with anyone or post them on facebook. We just can't see that happening in the US.
So after many breakfasts and then some cake and milk, we found our way through lots of little back roads to the entrance of the trail and then we all climbed halfway up a mountain (OK not a big HUGE mountain, but when you're an unathletic book reader/candy eater, like me, that sounds pretty impressive) to see a 500-foot waterfall.
There's the falls, way over there, do you see? We hiked up through there!!
Right-o, mate! (I tried to open the box to see if anyone had assisted in their quest for jawbones, but I couldn't open that latch. Dang.)
Laurel and I, in our attempt to catch our breath, stopped to see this weird plant/lichen stuff. It felt really really smooth and somewhat cool and wet. We liked it.
After walking through lots of dark green woods and enormous boulders, we suddenly popped out and saw this.
More and more uphill hiking (don'tcha wish you'd been with us? I mean, gosh, there was no complaining going on, not at all!) and then we thought we must be there soon, right? Then we came to these. And after another 411 steps (Laurel counted them), we finally saw the sign that said we were one minute away. Otherwise, I might have just cried. Whatever, I am getting old.
Eventually we made it up there and that was only halfway up! Other crazy (healthy) people went the rest of the way (deemed as "steep" and "daunting" by the sign) up to the summit. From there, there are old Maori trails that go all through the whole mountain range and connect to towns and other mountains and the coast and all. Maybe by the time we leave here we'll be a little more rugged and adventurous. Dennis already would be all over that, but he's saddled with us sissies.
Ok, saw the falls, made it out before dark and headed back home. This coming weekend -- bubbling mud and thermal pools. Possibly more sheep. And a luge.