Month two- when things turned all pear (and kiwi) shaped

Month two on the road has been pretty awesome. We arrived in New Zealand September 30th and will be here until Feb. Plenty of time to explore this distant Middle Earth-like land. And so for our first 2 and a half weeks that’s precisely what we did. Explored, walked, hitch hiked, ate, drank, walked, jumped out of planes, ate, drank, slept on buses, walked, explored, caved, rafted, walked some more and then the worst thing happened. We got jobs. Boooo! Work! 
Pre New Zealand all we had heard was that ‘New Zealand is amazing!’ ‘It’s so cool and the landscapes are incredible.’ So we arrived with high expectations. Our first impressions were that it’s just like a hotter UK with less people. Literally there is no one here. That was kind of nice if only a little spooky at times. It was also very bizarre experiencing spring weather and blossom in October. It all felt like the world had been turned upside down, and some master plague had wiped out 90% of the population. After a week though we saw the charm and wow of the place. Having glorious, white sand beaches to yourself, in mid twenty degree heat, in the middle of October is pretty spectacular. Of course there are people here in New Zealand, and when you do find yourself in the occasional pocket of civilisation, the people you meet are lovely. They are warm, welcoming and very good natured. It’s exactly how I imagine the people of the Shire to be (that’s my last LOTR reference I promise). 

Highlights so far have been… 

  • The view from the top of Mount Eden in Auckland.

  

  • Hitch hiking then hiking to Cathedral Cove. This cove features in a Narnia film and is very picturesque.

  

  • Hiking the Tongeriro Alpine Trail. This trek features volcanic rock and snow terrains. The views are incredible, especially when above the cloud level. Active volcanoes spouting gases, emerald coloured lakes and Mt Doom (okay last one) all add to the amazing 19km hike. 

  

  • Sky diving over lake Taupo. The lake is vast and the town is pretty cool. Natural hot springs, water falls and a bloody gigantic lake make this place a must go. 

  

  • Black water rafting in the Waitomo glow worm caves. Despite the freezing water temperatures this was seriously good fun. Jumping backwards off of water falls under the light of magical little worms with glowing bottoms was ace. FYI the brighter their bums glow the hungrier they are. 

  

  • Hobbiton. Just because. 

  

  • Rotorua. A crazy little town built in the crater of a huge volcano. The geothermal activity is insane. The pavements sporadically burst and gurgle boiling water and little vents of eggy smelling sulphur waft everywhere. The Maori village experience and skyline luge are must dos. 

  
After 18 days of fun and exploration we found pretty large holes in our wallets. NZ isn’t the cheapest of places but worth every penny spent. And so to remedy our declining funds we bit the job bullet and found work in a town called Hastings. The dreaded word, work. Although saying that, it’s not actually that bad. The company we work for are really nice and the job comes with some sweet perks. We are staying in an awesome house, with all the mod cons (including sky tv, a dishwasher and 9 chickens), we have an abundant supply of pears and we get free hot lunches on a Friday. There’s also an awesome brewery and tap room at the end of our road. All that and we are actually making money too. Granted thinning kiwi vines and packing pears isn’t the most glorious job but we are still earning money. Money that we can then fritter away in Asia. Well that’s the plan. Woop. 

  
Anyway until next month. 

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The beer of Middle Earth 

The other day I had the pleasure of trying a very unique beer. In fact this beer is served in only one pub in the world. The pub is a real life realisation of a fictional creation by the one and only JRR Tolkien. That’s right, the Green Dragon in Hobbiton. 

As part of the entry price to Hobbiton you get a full tour and a complimentary drink at the end. Awesome! Then came the hard part. There were four drinks to choose from and we were only allowed to pick one. On offer were the following; 

Girdley Fine Grain South Farthing Amber Ale 

Smell: Caramel, tangelo, herbal

Taste: Light, malty, sweet

ABV:3.7% 

Description- We brewed our Amber ale with a classic English bitter in mind. This beer is about rich caramel malts and is the perfect ale to relax with after a long journey. 

  
Oatbarton Brew Traditional English Ale

Colour: Black

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, vanilla

Taste: Roastieness, chocolate

ABV: 5%

Sackville Cider Apple Cider 

Colour: Golden delicious yellow

Smell: Vinous, Granny Smith apple

Taste: Tart, sweet, refreshing

ABV: 5.0% 

Description- This cider bursts onto the palate with a balance of fruity succulence and subtle tartness. The finish is crisp and will satisfyingly quench any thirst after a hard day in the field. 

Frogmorton Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer

Colour: light bronze, cloudy

Smell: spicy ginger, zesty, sweet

Taste: sweet, tart, crisp

  
As much as I enjoy a ginger beer (especially with some dark rum), I opted for an alcoholic beverage. 

The South Farthing Amber Ale did the trick. It was served perfectly chilled and was exactly what I needed after a turn around sunny Hobbiton. It was quite light and almost lager like. The thing I liked the most was that it was served in a ceramic mug. I’ve never drunk beer from a ceramic mug before but it works very well as a drinking vessel, mainly because I found it kept it cold for much longer then a glass. 
  
I also managed to sneak in a few chugs of Hep’s mug of Sackville cider. It was very scrummy and like all my favourite ciders, it tasted just like apple juice. 

 
I shall have to return so that I can try the Oatbarton Brew. Although at $75 a ticket (roughly £30) it’s not the cheapest pint in the world.  

  
Both the beers and the cider is brewed exclusively for Hobbiton by the Good George Brewery in Hamilton. I hear the brewery is definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself there. I think I might have to add it to the itinerary.