Leaving Auckland for a dairy farm, kiwis, giant fish and Rotorua

Rotorua Travel Blog

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Landscape south of Auckland - Bombay Hills

8:30am  After breakfast, motorcoach thru Bombay Hills, Waikato Valley, Hauraki Plains to township of Matamata (Hobbitown in Lord of the Rings).  Lunch at dairy farm.  Continue thru Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua and Rainbow Springs Nature Park with visit to Kiwi Encounter.  Evening free



Our bus driver, Tomati, is Maori and very knowledgeable about Maori culture.

Longlands dairy farm
  His commentary adds a lot to our trip.  For instance, the Maori greeting is “Kia Ora” or Good Morning/Greetings/Well Met”.  Sort of an all purpose polite greeting. 

 

The tour left Auckland (the first time we had suitcases out by 7 for pickup and on the bus by 8 - not as hard to do as I’d thought.  This is the first time we’d taken a bus tour and I was a little apprehensive about it).  We drove south on Highway 1 through market gardens on gently folded hills.  There were deer farms, dairy cattle and corn fields;  the corn had developed tassels here which it hadn’t yet north of Auckland (must have been the result of lower rainfall to the north).  There are few wild flowers here in the Hauraki Plains which is where much of the movie “Lord of the Rings” was filmed.

Carol with a rose at Longlands
  A tourist industry has grown up around places shown in the movie including Hobbit Town.  The only scenery from the movie we saw was later when we rafted through the gorges on the South Island. 

 

We stopped at the Longlands dairy for a demonstration of the milking machinery and the farm manager, Hilton, explained about the New Zealand dairy industry and the methods used at Longlands in particular.  The dairy farmers have formed a co-op which tests and rates each day’s milk from each dairy.  Holsteins (the black and white cows) are valued for producing milk in quantity and Jerseys (the brown cows) produce quality milk with a higher fat content. 

 

We had lunch at the dairy farm which of course was lamb (I guess you don’t eat beef around dairy cows and you certainly don’t in New Zealand) served with a great mint sauce.

Dave and Leslie at lunch
  Instead of using green mint jelly, which is usually too sweet, sticky and not very appetizing, they served mint infused in vinegar as a sauce.  Light, slightly tart and pungent, it was a very nice enhancement for the lamb and roasted vegetables.  I was so impressed that I even bought the Longlands Cookbook, much to my husband’s amazement since I don’t cook.   (I have what is known as a “cooking finger” which is unsuited for anything more complicated than setting a microwave oven or dialing for reservations at a restaurant)

 

 

After I photographed some amazing flowers in Longlands gardens, we got back on the bus and traveled to Rainbow Springs Nature Park.  There were a lot of interesting birds there (some of which I’ve tried to identify in the photos), a reptile which can live to 300 years old (in spite of a strange reproductive system - see photo for more) but my favorite was the fish.

Normal sized duck with those giant rainbow trout
  Rainbow trout the size of small boats!!!  Well, maybe not quite but almost that big.  Unfortunately there weren’t any opportunities to purchase the trout for dinner later.  Pity.

 

 

The next stop before we arrived at Rotorua was the Kiwi Encounter.  This time we saw live Kiwis (the birds obviously) but weren’t allowed to photograph them.  They are nocturnal birds which can’t fly and have no known defense system so are extremely endangered.  In order to have them active for us to view, the Kiwi Encounter people (who are primarily in the conservation business and use tourists for financing their research) have convinced the birds that day is night and night is day thru artificial lighting.  To see the birds you are in a very low light room separated from them by glass panels.  Not good for photographing active birds which run around a lot.

Kiwi and egg - no wonder they can't fly. Look at the size of the egg compared to the female.
   However, that is taken care of by lots of displays of stuffed and mounted kiwis.  (I doubt if a kiwi ever dies in a research lab and is not stuffed and mounted.  There seem to be displays everywhere in New Zealand.)  Our exit is, of course, through the Gift Shop.

 

We were deposited in our hotel in Rotorua, a Millenium hotel, which was thankfully very near a large grocery store.  Since we hadn’t managed to buy any rainbow trout we purchased cheese, crackers and some wine for dinner.  Some others in the group reported they had a good dinner at the Pig and Whistle (a converted police station that had gone on to better times as a pub).

koala says:
Great place, isn`t it????
Posted on: Apr 04, 2007
Sybaritic says:
I am enjoying watching as you build this travel blog. You have some great pictures that I didn't have. Good work! And thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Apr 04, 2007
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Landscape south of Auckland - Bomb…
Landscape south of Auckland - Bom…
Longlands dairy farm
Longlands dairy farm
Carol with a rose at Longlands
Carol with a rose at Longlands
Dave and Leslie at lunch
Dave and Leslie at lunch
Normal sized duck with those giant…
Normal sized duck with those gian…
Kiwi and egg - no wonder they can…
Kiwi and egg - no wonder they can…
Longlands hydrangea
Longlands hydrangea
the milking equipment
the milking equipment
Hilton, the dairy farm manager
Hilton, the dairy farm manager
lunch at Longlands owned by the Si…
lunch at Longlands owned by the S…
Sandie posed to show the size of t…
Sandie posed to show the size of …
Sandie and Alan
Sandie and Alan
A Pukeko (swamphen) I followed aro…
A Pukeko (swamphen) I followed ar…
Still dont know what this is.  Ca…
Still don't know what this is. C…
New Zealand Pigeon (Kereru to the …
New Zealand Pigeon (Kereru to the…
Paradise Shelduck
Paradise Shelduck
Tuatara reptile  They live for 80 …
Tuatara reptile They live for 80…
Theres an eel down there under th…
There's an eel down there under t…
Moa statue and guide for Rainbow S…
Moa statue and guide for Rainbow …
Orange-eyed duck at Rainbow Springs
Orange-eyed duck at Rainbow Springs
Rainbow trout at Rainbow Springs w…
Rainbow trout at Rainbow Springs …
Rainbow Springs trout pool
Rainbow Springs trout pool
Swan
Swan
more foliage growth paterns
more foliage growth paterns
More stuffed and mounted kiwis
More stuffed and mounted kiwis
Rotorua
photo by: Vanessa_Mun_Yee