North Mavora Lake DOC, Southland

We took a punt on this place. We’d seen some favourable comments on our trusty NZMCA app but also saw that it was 39km down an unsealed, no exit road off an already long Te Anau to Queenstown road. Would getting off the beaten track be worth it? It definitely was! We were rewarded with the most incredible lake and mountain views and an expansive area to choose a patch to set up for the night. We were practically neighbour-free!

Peter Jackson must have also considered it a gem, using it for many scenes in the first Lord of the Rings movie- The Fellowship of the Ring. Was it serendipity that when we switched on our TV- this movie was playing?? We saw people enjoying the lake fishing, kayaking and boating and others tramping around the various tracks from here. We mountain biked one track along the forest fringed lake edge, looking for film familiar places, humming the LoTR then tune as we went! The boys on the look out for wizards, hobbits and Orcs!

Top tips:

  1. head for the North (2nd Lake down the track) rather than South Lake- much more scenic and spacious.
  2. Remember it’s a DOC site so expect nothing more than long-drop loos!
  3. Expect everything on the exterior of your vehicle to get dusty on the road in- very dusty!
  4. Don’t tell too many people about this place. It’s “my precious”- to use Gandalf’s words, “keep it secret, keep it safe!”

Moeraki Boulders (by Toby, age 9)

img_1011I hope you enjoy my recount!

Chapter 1

I had a long sleep but my brother started tickling me so that woke me up. After that, we got dressed and had breakfast. We also did other stuff like brushing our teeth etc. Then we set off. It was about 3km to the boulders. We got to one point where we asked a lady where the boulders were.

Chapter 2

To make a long story short, she told us where the boulders were and yeah..

Chapter 3

There was a hill but it was down so it was easy to get down. My dad spotted a seal which was sadly dead. So we walked to the actual boulders and we climbed up them because they were mostly underground… After that, we went to the cafe and we had to wipe our feet on a fancy broom thing.

img_1012Chapter 4

I ordered a pie (obviously) and an ice cream. My brother had a pie and a hot chocolate and an ice cream. My brother offered me a marshmallow and so I quickly took it before he could get it back. (You gotta do what you gotta do!).

Chapter 5

So, we started walking back and you know that seal that dad spotted? Well someone nicely put a cross next to it. He must have had a peg on his nose because it STANK! We were at our camper van and we were packing our stuff away going to the next campsite, when people started talking to us!

Chapter 6

There was a young, cute, fluffy dog that came up to me and I started stroking the dog. When I smelled my hands, they smelt like the ocean. The end.

 

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

There’s something for everyone here.  A variety of naturally heated mineral pools to soak in, hydroslides and children’s water play areas, a lazy river, a large freshwater swimming pool and private sauna, steam room and thermal pools to hire.  At $100 for a 2-day pass for a family of 4 (same price for family of 5 too), they are reasonably priced with the hydroslides and SuperBowl ride an additional $10 pp each day.  The pools are set against a stunning alpine backdrop and are beautifully landscaped and maintained.  The Tea Kiosk Cafe has a good selection of snacks and drinks which are no more expensive than outside the complex.

Top tip: if you’re not a fan of unavoidable footsie playing or rubbing shoulders with near- naked strangers, avoid the public holidays!  Our best time here was late autumn when the snow started to fall around us whilst we soaked in the pools!

The Redwoods, Whakarewarewa Forest

 

We’ve been to Rotorua countless times and yet somehow never heard of, let alone visited this place.  Even as you drive into the area you feel a sense of calm that this place exudes.  The visitor area is beautifully laid out and the visitor centre helps you to decide what walk, cycle trail or experience is for you.  Even the toilets are sympathetically designed to blend in with the environment.

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Walks range from 2km to a whole day 34km tramp.  We only did the smallest walk- Redwood Memorial Grove track- an easy 2km forest walk but we’ll be back to experience the cycle trails for sure.

For a unique perspective of the native undergrowth, visitors can walk the Redwoods 553 metre long Treewalk reaching up to 12 metres above ground via its 21 suspension bridges traversing the forest. At night, the forest walk is transformed into a magical, lantern-lit wonderland. Illuminated by infinite colour spots, feature lights and 30 bespoke lanterns, courtesy of world-acclaimed designer David Trubridge, the Redwoods Nightlights is a beautifully unique nocturnal experience.

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