Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cycling In New Zealand 2018: Day 7 & 8 - Hobbiton & The Blue Spring

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Day 7-8    |     Go to D1-2/D3/D4/D5/D6/D9/D10-11/D12-13
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Cycling New Zealand 2018Day 7 & 8 - Hobbiton & The Blue Spring
New Zealand, North & South Island : Saturday & Sunday, 27th-28th October 2018
This is part of a multi-mode cycling tour North Island & South IslandNew Zealand:
Distance: Not Applicable     Level: Not Applicable
Time : Not Applicable
Time Taken :  Not Applicable

This is page 6 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D6 Arrowtown           |         Go to Other Days         |       Go to D9 Rotorua >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Traffic in New Zealand is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
    Some New Zealanders can get quite impatient when it comes to driving. So do not hog the road, stay within your lane and put on your indicators when turning or changing lanes so as not to irate them.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The map below shows our 310 km. road trip from Auckland to Hamilton and then onwards to Hobbiton & the Blue Spring. And then returning back to Hamilton for the night.
    For cycling, New Zealand has fairly well developed cycling routes that run in the cities, town, villages, and country side. Some of the cycling trails are on dedicated cycling lanes, some on shared lanes with pedestrians or other traffic. Some are on paved tracks while others are on gravel or earth trails, and they go through fairly busy towns, green forests and bright blue lakeside.
    The New Zealand Cycle Trail site provides an interactive map of exciting journeys on 2,500km of trails suited to everyone from sightseeing easy-going riders, to hardcore mountain bikers up for a challenge. The Queenstown Trail site provides cycling routes for various levels of rides in QueenstownNew Zealand law requires cyclists to wear helmets while cycling.

3. Navigation
    When cycling, we used Google Maps in Cycling Mode for navigation but there is a lag when starting off, so one would have to cycle a bit to get the orientation right. Google Maps is also useful as it shows various places of interests that were not shown on GPS units.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.

4. Weather
   Mid-morning temperatures in Queenstown averaged 10°C. In Auckland, average day and night time temperatures were 20°C & 12°C. Hamilton's average temperatures were 19°C & 13°C.
    Useful weather forecast sites for the New Zealand are the New Zealand Met Service and AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

5. Places of Interests
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
- Hobbiton Movie Set (GPS: -37.87234, 175.68336) at Matamata.
- The Blue Spring (Te Puna) (GPS: -38.0362, 175.8352) along the Te Waihou Walkway at Putaruru.
- The corrugated iron artwork at (GPS: -37.97684, 175.75568) Tirau.

6. Food
Day 7-
Breakfast: Take-away pastries.
Lunch: Pies & coffee from Airspresso Cafe & Bar at Queenstown Airport.
Dinner: Home-cooked dishes by relatives (Chicken Rendang, Assam Prawn Curry, Nasi Lemak, char keow teow, etc.) at family get together in Auckland.
Day 8-
Brunch: Sandwiches at Caltex - Penrose R&R (GPS: -36.90358, 174.80871); was suppose to have it at the bigger BP R&R (GPS: -36.91857, 174.84467); both located along Auckland Southern Motorway (which forms part of New Zealand State Highway 1).
Tea 1: Ale at the Green Dragon Inn (GPS: -37.85969, 175.68125) in Hobbiton.
Tea 2: Pumpkin soup, rissole, muffins, coffee at the Bugger Cafe (GPS:-37.97814, 175.75744 ) in Tirau.
Dinner: Chinese dishes at Hong's Kitchen (GPS:-37.79086, 175.28454 ) in Hamilton.

7. Accomodations
On Day 7, We stayed with friends in the Greenhithe subarbs of Auckland.
On day 8 we stayed at Toby & Tammy's Homestay in Hamilton.

8. Travelling By Plane And Bringing Bikes Onto Panes In New Zealand
    From Queenstown we flew to Auckland by Jetstar. For best prices register for their Price Watch stating indicative time of travel and destinations, with this we managed to get a return Auckland-Queenstown fare of NZ249 for two pax which included a luggage allowance for our bagged bikes.  Depends on the class booked, either no checked-in luggage or limited checked-in luggage are included. We bought tickets with luggage allowance of 20kg per pax. for both our luggage and bagged bikes.  Sports equipment measuring no more than one metre on the longest side and not heavier than 32kg. are treated as part of checked in luggage, and as such there is no necessity to purchase a separate sports equipment luggage as long as one's bicycle is bagged and within their dimension and weight guideline.
    Tip: Sit at the left side section before the plane's wing. It was worthwhile to reserve a seat at an extra NZ$5/- and get a grand-stand view of the Alps!

9. Communicating with Each Other
   When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest. Vodafone prepaid phone cards can be bought at the Vodafone stall located just outside the Arrival Hall. We got ours from a promoter at the shopping arcade within the arrival hall, with each of us getting the prepaid mobile cards at NZ$25 (inclusive of GST) which came with 1.5Gb of data lasting 30 days. Also included were 200 minutes for local calls and calls to selected countries, including Malaysia. This also includes text messages to the selected countries. There's also free chat data when using FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp.
    Most hotels, motels, home-stays, restaurants, and airports have free Wifi; do note that these free wifi may not be secure and registration could be required. But one can safe on one's mobile data by using these especially for uploading or downloading videos.

10. Communicating with Locals
    All locals speaks very good English and communicating with them should not be a problem.
11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.

Yesterday was a good riding day; we had taken an ORbus from Queenstown to Arrowtown, and from there cycled along the Lake Hayes Circuit and Lake Wakatipu Trail back to Queenstown. The next two days we will give our bikes a break, as we fly back to Auckland and from there drive over to Hamilton followed by visits to a renown fairy-tale park and also to a scenic spot that is one of New Zealand's best kept secret.

This map is a road trip and not a non-cycling map, although it is possible to cycle from Auckland to Hamilton and then onwards to Hobbiton and the Blue Spring. It just needs more time, an item which we were short of..
Cycling Distance: N.A.     Level: N.A.

After a simple breakfast we had a wonderful view when we wandered over to Sherwood_Queenstown adjacent vegetable and herb garden. It's a had such a wonderful view of Lake Wakatipu with a nice cool breeze blew in. Only regret - should have brought our breakfast over for a nice picnic here; I wonder whether the allow that?
It was a rather cold morning, instead of cycling to the airport and we decided to pack our bikes and took a airport transfer ... AND IT'S GOOD BYE QUEENSTOWN!

5:30pm - We arrive in Auckland to a wet airport, fortunately Cuz Koh was there to pick us up and straight away whisked us off to Cuz Luce's place. We were going to have a get together there!
Luce is quite a good cook, especially when it comes to Malaysian dishes and hubby Tom is not bad too a cook to as he can fry a whopper of a Char Keow Teow (CKT). There was still a light drizzle and there he was at a "wet" wet kitchen frying a mean wok of CKT; see good CKT need to be fried in a wok with strong fire and it does get smoky when frying, so outdoor it is unless one wants to trip the smoke detector 😱.

And here we are getting cozy together, getting ready to dig in.... er... don't see much food?

It's a sort of pot luck party, with the others bringing in some of their creations. There were lots placed on the next table: right up front was Tom's CKT. There were also nasi lemak, chicken rendang, curry assam prawns and an assortment of Nyonya kuehs like curry poks (that's the Nyonya slangy term for their version of curry puffs), kueh kodok, rempah udang, etc.

Upfront is a huge piece of salmon prepared by Trish ....  I am not sure how it's done but it was good. Just behind it were the assam prawns and curry poks, etc. We were spoilt for choices, and after days of Western food, this dinner was one that was really appreciated - good food and warm relatives, what more can one ask for?
Well one can ask for good memories... funny ones actually, like this one:
Smart me, trying to act clever to show off my Baba-Nyonya roots was trying to illustrate that the secret ingredient in making rempah udang is crushed pepper. I said it with a elaborate, expert rub of my thumb and forefinger... now that PEPPER joke keeps on coming back to me HAHAHAHA! Serves me right!
GOOD NIGHT...... burp!

7:30am - The following day we woke up to a crisp, chilly morning... and to see ducks coming over to Koh's garden. His house is at one of those newer places and we were surprise to see the ducks nonchalantly walking over.
Luce had lent us her car and the next three days will be a road trip for us to Hamilton and Rotorua with several stops along the way. It will be a road trip but we aren't forgetting our bicycles; packed them into the car and will try to cycle when time permits 👍👍👍.
It's a 150 km. drive and we hoped to reach Hamilton in an hour and a half, keeping fingers crossed, it's a weekend so traffic should be lighter or so we thought! Driving out of Auckland, we hit the Auckland Marathon and half the roads were closed to facilitate this. It was a cold morning (to us from the tropics), I must take my hat off to the participants, running in a cold 14°C. with a light drizzle and cold wind, it must have felt colder than that. If I were out there, my balls would have frozen stiff (apologies for the crude analogy, but it best illustrates how I felt).

We leave behind the runners and were on State Motorway #1, heading for Hamilton. Enroute was a good breakfast stop at BP R&R. But due to the delay by the marathon we missed it and had breakkie at the smaller Caltex - Penrose R&R. Not that many choices there but at least we got to fill our tummies.
Near Drury, resurfacing road works had us detouring away from the highway and onto narrower rural roads. Traffic was much slower but it got us to see a quieter side of the country.

We passed by the smaller towns of Churchill, Huntly and finally crossed the Tainui Bridge to get back to the highway.

10:45pm - After more than three hours we arrive at my sister Jan's house in Hamilton. Due to the delays, a journey that should have taken 1-1/2 hours took us more than three hours and we arrived to the anxious arms of my sister. It's the first time I was visiting her place and the first thing I wanted to see was her workroom, where she does her needlework. She does pretty good patchwork blankets, dolls, bags, etc.

Running late we couldn't stay long and was off to HobbitonTo visit the place, the easiest was to join one of their organized tours that starts from the Shire's Rest Cafe near MatamataWe had booked a tour a couple of days earlier; running late we sped over to Matamata, but at the same time keeping an eye on the speedometer. We just barely made it with five minutes to spare!
One must not try not to be late as a replacement tour may not be on the same day as the place is extremely busy and each tour has a limited capacity - they do not want too many people to be wandering around Hobbiton at the same time in order to protect it. For this reason, there are no unguided tour or free and easy entry. Anyway it's more fun with the guide as they are wise to the ways of the Hobbits 😊.
The above photo shows one of their hobbit guides.... Oops! It me actually! With my beanie cap, I could be mistaken for one of the hobbits!

Hobbiton covering about 20 acres, is located within the 2,000 acre farm belonging to the Alexander family. Entering the place was like going into fairyland to be enchanted by the many colourful hobbit holes.(that's what hobbit houses are called as they are built into holes dug out from a slope).  Altogether there were forty-four holes, most of them covered by grassy earth and some chimneys could be seen sticking out from the ground.
(.... read more about Hobbiton)

Hobbiton is a real fun place; being fans of the epic stories and movies, we tried to emulate being hobbits... Lynn looks a wee large for a hobbit, she looked more like an elf.

Sitting on their small tables, Jan being of a small stature could easily fit in!

.... hunching ourselves to make ourselves look short like them.

Me? I ended up looking more like one of those ugly trolls!

hobbit, a troll and an elf; no crossing this bridge unless toll is paid to the troll.

And then we saw a hobbit ....
Hah! It's Jan, with a small stautre, she does look like one!

We ended our tour at the Green Dragon Inn, sipping good ale at a lovely fireside.

Back on the road, we passed by this town that had a good shepherd and a sheepdog welcoming us. In contrast to the small hobbits, these were giants and they were made from corrugated iron. See, this town called Tirau is renown for their artwork made from corrugated iron made by Corrugated Creations, company that has made the town known as "the corrugated iron captial of the world". See more of their nice creations here.

Tirau was also a good place for lunch. Here I am buggering away at Bugger Cafe; they serve good buggers too.... oops... I mean burgers.

Thirteen kilometres away, in Putaruru, was another wonderful place, one that was not man-made but a creation of nature. It's one's of New New Zealand's best kept secrets; this is the Blue Spring which is located on the private Edmeades family farm. but the owners have generously opened it to the public.

Even before entering the spring area itself, crossing a bridge over the Waihou River, we were amazed by the clarity of the water, so clear and tinged with a slight blue. The blueish hue seen above is the reflection of the blue sky. The spring is located along the Te Waihou Walkway.

Here's me at edge of the spring; the railings there were not just to protect people from falling in but more to ensure that people won't go in and swim at the Waihou RiverWater from the Mamaku Plateau takes anywhere from 50-100 years to reach the Blue Spring so it will be a waste to see it damaged by irresponsible people.

Walk much further in and the track runs parallel to the spring. Its water was very clear and the bright green water weed could be seen below, eerily swaying to the flow of the water.

The reason for the blue colour (and high visual clarity) of the Waihou River and its spring source is the high optical purity of the water. Pure water is intrinsically blue in hue because it absorbs red light leaving only blue and (some) green light to be transmitted to the observer's eye. Pure natural waters are blue to blue-green in colour because they lack light absorbing constituents and particles. Both particles and light-absorbing matter are efficiently removed during the long settlement time of spring water while in aquifers of the Mamaku Plateau.
And why did we end up at the Blue Spring? Well, months earlier I had proudly posted photos of my visit to the Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道) at the Taroko Gorge (太魯閣) while on a cycling tour of Taiwan; Jan saw it and said she will show me something better when I am in NZ.

On the way back we passed by Tirau again, this time we managed to get better look of the two sheep that the sheep dog was guarding... hmmmm... they make a lovely couple, don't they?

Back at Hamilton, we dropped by to see my uncle and auntie. They were looking great, NZ's clean environment and calm pace of living really helps.

We ended the day with a lovely Chinese dinner at the Hong's Kitchen.

Lynn & Jan at the Te Waihou Walkway.
Tomorrow we head for Rotorua!

(For more photos of the day Click Here)
This is page 6 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D6 Arrowtown           |         Go to Other Days         |       Go to D9 Rotorua >

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Day 7-8    |     Go to D1-2/D3/D4/D5/D6/D9/D10-11/D12-13
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