North Island Adventures

Zumba Party and There and Back Again, Part 2

Hobbiton and Mordor

For the first half of April, I went up to the North Island. The main reason for this was that there was a two hour master Zumba class with Beto in Auckland on Friday April 8. You may be asking yourself why I would bother to fly to Auckland just to go to a Zumba class. Well, this was just not a regular class. It was with the creator of Zumba, and this was his first trip to New Zealand. There were only 500 tickets available, and I was lucky to get one. I would have never known about it if Haley, one of the Queenstown instructors, had not informed me. So we jumped on a plane on Friday morning, checked into the hotel, and headed to the ASB Showgrounds at 3:30 in the afternoon. The event did not start until 7, but we wanted to check out the apparel sale that the organizers were having, which opened at 4:00. We were not the first ones in line. Let’s just say, Kiwi instructors love Zumbawear because there was a line to get into the shop until 7:00. I was able to snag a lime green instructor tank. As it got closer to 7:00 PM, the atmosphere became like queuing for a rock concert. At the beginning of the class, there was a traditional Maori greeting with all of the Zumba instructors of Maori descent. That was very cool. And then Beto came out, and the crowd went wild. We danced for 2 hours and had a blast! My photos turned out well too.  The best part came at the end in which Beto offered to take a photo with everyone who wanted one. Which of course was the entire room. There were over 500 people there so Haley and I ran for the stage. I got my photo with Beto and was very pleased with it. I also told him that I was from the Studio in Ohio and he said Ohio’s in the house! So cool! So after we got our photos, we headed to the afterparty…at McDonalds. We were starving and so was everyone else.

After the class, I rented a car and headed to Matamata for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Now, as the Hobbit is currently filming, I cannot tell you anything about the actual tour or post any photos until after the movies are released. What I can tell you about is the sheep farm experience that my tour got to do before the movie set tour. It included a sheep shearing demonstration followed by the chance to bottle feed two 7-day old lambs. They were adorable!

Then I headed to Rotorua where I spent a day at the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Think Yellowstone in New Zealand with geothermal pools, mud pools, and geysers. This was a two hour long boardwalk through an active geothermal area. I also hit the Craters of the Moon, which is another broadwalked area through a landscape that reminded me of Mordor.

On this trip, I also did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is advertised as New Zealand’s best day hike. This hike is filled with semi-arid plants, steaming fumaroles, crystal-clear lakes and streams, all in an active volcanic zone. This is where the filming of Mount Doom and Mordor took place in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with Mount Ngauruhoe posing as Mount Doom. Now, you can climb up Mt. Doom and chuck your invisible ring as a side trip, but it’s extremely difficult and slightly dangerous. It’s a 600 meter climb up loose, volcanic rocks and boulders. The views are supposed to be magnificent, but it’s the way down that has caused people some problems. The fastest way down is to “ski” down the white strip without picking up too much momentum. Needless to say, I did not attempt Mount Doom. The rest of the hike was enough for me. I am glad this was not the height of summer because up to 500 people attempt this hike a day during the summer! The day I did it, there was a primary school group up there. Why can’t we make US kids do this kind of thing? It would be good for them.

Up next: Some semblance of normalcy. My internship at the University of Otago.

Mount Ngauruhoe AKA Mount Doom

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