That’s why things are green!

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Our itinerary has some mornings like yesterday with a scheduled event needing an early start. Teenagers tend to sleep late so we tried to plan some days that would allow a later start. Today was one of those and it was a dull grey morning with occasional rain showers. It was not a day for the walk that Harry and I had contemplated in the arboretum.

Majella and I had finished breakfast soon after 7:30 pm but we let Harry sleep until around 9:00 am. We had discussed the possibility of a jet boat ride on the Waikato River at Cambridge later in the morning. That would fit on our way to our 3:00 pm tour of Hobbiton. When Majella called to see if they were operating today the man she spoke to suggested that the rainy conditions were unsuitable. We would have coped but perhaps he was not keen on getting wet for just three passengers.

A rethink was required so Majella consulted the Lonely Planet guide she had found in the lounge room. Hamilton museum was one guaranteed dry option but she decided a visit to NZ’s premier surf beach at Raglan was the way to go.

Soon we were heading west through Whatawhata and on to Raglan. As we approached Raglan we began to see rally cars coming toward us. Some zoomed by but others we pulled up by the side of the road with wheels off, attending to some issue of preparation. 

As we reached Raglan the centre of town was blocked off for the event but we were able to go south toward the beach, passing more rally cars along the way. 

There were surfers at the beach but not a lot of action as waves were sporadic and mostly not big enough to be worth the effort to catch. We stayed long enough for Majella and Harry to clamber over some rocks to feel the water. 

Back in Raglan Majella found a parking spot at a supermarket near the town centre which was still closed off for the rally. She justified it by buying a box of cereal to replace the one Harry had finished. That done we walked into town up a street lined with bays where rally service teams had stacks of spare wheels with brand new tyres. Majella commented that our timelines might have become entangled with the Pellys’ since we seemed to be experiencing rally activity that would appeal to Liam.

On the cross street there was a parked truck with a huge screen and a crowd of people watching live rally action streamed from wherever on the local country roads it was happening. It was almost noon so we opted for a cafe on the nearby corner where we had lunch. Majella had avocado on toast, I had waffles, and Harry had loaded fries that were more than he could finish so soon after breakfast.

After lunch we wandered across for a quick look at the big screen and then walked back to the car and headed east. We wanted to be at Hobbiton around 2:30 for our 3:00 pm tour so we had some time to spare. 

A short distance out of Raglan we turned off for Bridal Veil Falls. The road to the falls was sealed but winding. Along there we passed a side road that was closed for the rally event but there we no rally cars visible, just a few officials.

At the falls there was an easy 10 minute walk through the dense green forest to two viewing points at the top of the falls. It was a spectacular drop with a strong flow of water. A sign noted it was 135 steps down (and then up) to the middle view point and 261 steps down to the bottom. Majella was prepared to tackle the first and it was worth it for the front on view of the falls. 

As she turned to walk back up she sensed that Harry might want to go all the way down. He did, so I was delegated to go down with him while Majella made her way up. I didn’t mind and the view at the bottom was worth the extra effort. Harry and I got back up fairly quickly and found Majella waiting near the top view points. We walked back to the car together.

As we drove back out to the main road we passed a stream of rally related vehicles heading for the event point we had seen on the way in. Once back on the main road we headed for Hobbiton, skirting round the south side of Hamilton to avoid traffic. We made it comfortably by our planned time of 2:30 pm.

Once I had checked in and picked up our tickets we had time for coffees, Fanta, and a look around the store before boarding the bus to ride to the movie set. By then it was raining but there were large umbrellas available as we stepped off the bus. They mostly took care of social distancing.

The tour around the hobbit village took a bit more than an hour with more or less continuous rain at varying intensities. It wound along a trail, up and down hill with occasional stops where our guide explained what we were seeing and how it figured in the movies. There were opportunities for photos in front of significant locations or of the general scene.

Our tour ended at the Green Dragon Inn where the first drink was included in the tour. Harry had ginger beer and a small pie, Majella had cider, and I had stout. We had about 20 minutes to relax in the inn before we walked out to board the bus back to base. We would have preferred to tour in sunshine but enjoyed it anyway. Harry was interested to see locations from the movies and might watch some again to spot places he has been.

Majella suggested driving on to Matamata for dinner. We had lunch there on our 2019 trip and she remembered the town had some hobbity features. We found a park in front of The Redoubt where we ate lunch last time and had dinner there, fish and chips for Harry and a shared pizza for us.

Maps suggested a quicker way home, though with more turns, so we took it expecting to see places we had not seen previously. We did, though mostly it was green rolling hills shrouded in mist. Everything looked well kept and prosperous with sheep and cattle dotting the hillsides and occasional level spaces. There were horses too with one place proclaiming that it had bred a Melbourne Cup winner and another advertising pony poo.

We were home at 7:00 pm with time to begin sorting things for our departure from here tomorrow morning and then to relax. Harry was still keen to see something of the farm so Majella encouraged him to hang around outside in hope of catching Grant’s attention. Kate spotted Harry and Majella and talked about where we had been. When Majella mentioned Harry’s interest she found Grant who was happy to walk us up the street to the next paddock where he had four young bullocks. Harry was eventually able to persuade them that he was friendly and they were very willing to be patted. 

Once Harry had enough of the animals we walked back, chatting with Grant about where we had been. The ice cream we had in the freezer was not going to survive 4 hour or more hours in the car tomorrow so that had to be eaten. Tough!

Despite the late start it felt like we had done a lot today. The rain did not completely prevent us from doing things but we can understand why things are green.