Our New Zealand trip now over, we've made the 30 plus-hour trip safely back home. We decided to keep those last days in the North island pretty low key, so I've rolled them all into one last post.
We had originally planned to leave Taupo and head to the hot springs at Kerosene creek, a popular spot for tourists to get ripped off by the local children apparently. Thanks to our Airbnb host, we discovered that Taupo had some hot springs of its own, and a small but powerful waterfall, Huka falls. Fun fact, Huka falls was used for the barrel scene in the Hobbit movies. Not so fun fact, we almost watched a dog get swept away just 300 meters upstream of these falls. After calming down, my wife noted, "Why is it that every trip we go on a dog almost dies?!" It only happened one other time so technically we're 2 for 3.
From Taupo we drove to Rotorua in a roundabout way, my fault. It was another tourist trap, kind of like Queenstown but without the views. We didn't stick around too long, just long enough to enjoy some coffee and black swans.
From Rotorua we drove to the Cambridge area. I saw some rowers Karapiro where the NZ national team trains, which reminded me I needed to get out rowing ASAP. We ate Italian food in Cambridge, my wife (who is partly Italian) was not impressed at all. The real reason we picked the area was to get us close to the Hobbit holes of Hobbiton, the real reason for 60% of NZ's tourism. It was pretty cool, but no surprise you can't go in the holes. That got me thinking though, how cool would it be to stay in an Airbnb hobbit hole? Somebody should do it. Somebody probably will. Surprisingly we didn't run into anyone in costume. I think our tour guide was disappointed. After a quick (and tiny) drink in the Green Dragon Inn we hit the road for our final stop: Auckland.
I don't think either my wife or I liked Auckland too much, but that was probably because we had been so spoiled by all the beauty of the south island? Maybe it was because we were dreading the 30-hour trip home? That having been said, we had one of our best Airbnb hosts in Auckland. We found our New Zealand hosts to be incredibly friendly and helpful wherever we went. In Auckland we got a morning run in along the waterfront, walked the streets looking for souvenirs, and then made the final drive to Auckland International Airport. What a great trip!