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Published: November 17th 2015
Time to leave Auckland and head South to see what awaits. We packed up Pip (we named our Kiwi car), bade a found farewell to the hot tub and then we were off!
Our first stop was the city of Hamilton. There we explored the Hamilton Gardens. Not only was this attraction free, it was very beautiful! A myriad of different types of gardens in spring time can't be beat. My favorites were the Italian Renaissance, the Traditional English and the Indian Retreat. Jeff enjoyed the Italian Renaissance along with the extensive kitchen garden. After getting our eyes filled with outdoor beauty, off to find substinance!
We found the Good George Brewery. And what a find! Jeff got an amber ale while I ordered the sparkling ale. Uh....yum! A plate of pork and beef sliders later, off we went to Cambridge. (Jeff stated that he'd definitely return to Good George for beer consumption!)
Cambridge has Velodome that I really wanted to check out. It's an indoor cycling track where the New Zealand team rides. As luck would have it, we were able to watch them...incredible! The track is made out of Siberian pine and there is a 45º pitch. And it's huge! Jeff andI were awed...also to be able to watch the team was a real treat!
Back into Pip, we were off to find the Shire! I know that on the itinerary it says we wouldn't be going there for a couple more days but we were able to book an evening tour so we went for it. Hobbiton is really in the middle of nowhere but we had the most beautiful views getting there! We made it with plenty of time to spare before the tour started so we went shopping! Erik, Abby and Andrea - you have gifts being brought to you all the way from middle earth...are we not the best parents ever or what?
Along with 46 others, we loaded up into a bus and headed out to the shire. It's a bit of a drive, well hidden from the road. And before you knew it, we were seeing a thing of beauty...getting off the bus and seeing the welcome sign was surreal! We where actually here...and it looks like the movies! The tour commenced and we were able to visit the hobbit holes, gardens, meadows, Bilbo's house and then the Green Dragon! All along the way excitement, awe and slacked jaws were the uniformed expressions of everyone there.
Words cannot adequately describe actually being there. Even though Jeff is not a huge fan, he was suitably impressed. We kept giggling (okay maybe it was just me who was giggling) repeating that I couldn't believe we were actually there, seeing it in person! And then came the banquet...
Yes, that's right! When a lucky few are able to snag the evening tour tickets you not only get a beer (or cider) at the Green Dragon, you also get invited to a Hobbit's feast. And feast it was! Three large tables set with incredible amounts and variety of hobbit fare. Brilliant! And not only wonderful food, but wonderful company as well. Looking out the windows to view the Shire while eating at the Green Dragon is a very special experience (and memory) indeed. Dessert was served the it was time to sit around the fire and bask in the awesomeness (not sure if that's a word but it works) of the evening. But we were not done...we were given lanterns and headed out for the night time tour of the Shire.
Yeah, you read that right, we got to see the shire at night with all the beautiful hobbit holes lit up and chimney smoke furling out of chimney stacks. We even congregated in the field were Bilbo's had his 111th birthday party and danced hobbit style.
Sadly, the evening had come to an end but the pictures and memories will be lasting a lifetime!
Word of advise, just go! This experience was just amazing...
(We are experiencing technical difficulties regarding the pictures but hope to have them up soon.)
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