Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Unexpected Journey & The Hotel Time Forgot

As you descend out of the mist & follow the undulating road you'd better keep your eyes peeled...
 for there are hobbits in these parts
 & a Baggins you just may spy,
 if you keep your wits about you.

In, fact, "Hobbiton" is almost a mere stone's throw from where Isabella was born.
There has been great excitement & screeds of red carpet rolled out during this week of the premiere of the movie The Hobbit.
 Filmed & directed here in New Zealand, we're all pretty chuffed about the honour & the fuss.  

Actually, quite handy to Middle Earth itself, we came across a signpost on our journey back form Te Aroha.
Without a second thought, we stepped into our very own grand adventure.
The day was moody & dismal & an eerie sense of timelessness swirled about our journey. We had never even heard of Okoroire nor the hot springs near "Middle Earth" before.
Feeling a little as if we had stumbled into Strawberry Land (Ireland) we ran through the rain to the front door, only to be greeted by a crunky (Kaitiaki word), disinterested & unhelpful receptionist, although she did hand us a pamphlet & allowed us to wonder through & have a little squizz around parts of the hotel. 
Grand rooms bound by dark wood panelling & huge old fireplaces; brooding massive paintings hanging over the mantlepieces were enough to make us turn tail & run, but the whisper of possibility that there were ancient hot springs nearby caused us to summon our courage & siddle back to the surly lady to ask about the pools. "Not open 'til 11.00 she stated emphatically." 
Well, we had come this far so we decided to wait the half hour until opening time..
a gap in the hedge caught my eye & so we wandered..
under the dripping canopy of grand old marcrocarpas
 & across the carpet of carmine camelia petals
and down & around the corner through bush until..
we passed by a roaring torrent
and found the pools that time forgot..
peering through the holes in the tin fence we began to change our minds,
but since it was raining, decided that we could be enticed into trying a dip in the No 2 pool. So back we trudged for the key. The only thing that had changed was 1/2 an hour..it could have been open any old time!
Water from the perpetual spring has been pouring through here to fill this pool over & over for as long as anyone can remember...the oldest concrete hot pool in the country.
It was the "Fairy Pool" or "Fairy Bath" as it is also known, we later realised we didn't actually find that day. Still with it's sandy bottom, surrounded by bush & ferns & twinkling with glow worms at dusk.
The Hotel may well be a classic piece of Kiwiana but it's the pools that we will return to, barely cared for yet magical, they are a memorable & historic treasure.
Photo:Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3577

Returning our thoughts to The Hobbit (Hobbiton being in the same neck of the woods as Okoroire)
leads me to "Deluxe" our favourite Wellington cafe. Serving, incredible vegetarian food,

small & funky space,

with passionate & zany staff abounding.

The first time we walked in the door we were greeted by Superman wearing a t-shirt that said "I love the general public" & served our coffee by a fairy with a wedgie (her costume was a little small).
And since the red carpet was rolled out right in the very same building in Courtney Place, The Embassy Theatre, as Deluxe for the Hobbit Premiere here is a celebration of all things smiley by the Wellington International Ukele Orchestra, filmed mostly in Deluxe itself & you will see our Superman at the end still wearing the infamous t-shirt. Also featured...Lady Luck..do bring your sense of humour won't you.

Well there we are...thank you for joining us on our unexpected journey!
I hope you're managing to keep your smile & your sanity in the crazy time of December.
I am reminding myself to take small bites & go slow (thank you Pom)
Lovely to see you.


  1. Wow! I really think you should make a guide book because you and your Rob are the very best travelers and appreciators of life. I never read your adventure posts without sensing deep hospitality. Sometimes when I look at travel guides I feel overwhelmed with "you really shouds" and "don't miss this" but you take us on fascinating virtual trips that are fun and exciting! I just love your style, GK!

    1. Oh Pom, your generous heart knows no bounds..thank you for your treasured reflections. For someone who has had so much trouble being at home in this world, your comment about sensing deep hospitality is so unexpected, welcome & affirming. Much love my friend GK x0x0x

  2. Hello Catherine - yes that is very good advise at this slightly crazy time of year - taking small bites and going slow. I often find myself wishing it was all passed and then I think I must stop & enjoy the process. (whilst trying not to tear hair out!!!)
    You have had a great journey in your little foray to the Waikato havent you. So glad you got to cover so much. I have been to the Okoroire Hot Pools though not for many years and yes, the same rules applied back then regarding the opening times!!!! :-)
    Almost something Basil Fawlty would do!!!!
    After looking closely at your Isabella pic I am tempted to go outside now & wash her down with my house brush. It is pouring with rain here, so good for the poor old garden!!! Hope you are having a great week, Much love/hugs, Julie Xoxo

    1. Yes that seasonal ambivalence seems to afflict most of us from time to time..hard to get the balance right sometimes.
      I am quite amazed at quite what we managed to cover in our gentle Waikato holiday time..so nice to record it all for our own sake..kind of captures it & ties it down, & nice to share it too. Absolutely Basil Fawlty!! & just as annoying!
      Isabella is just fine...leave her alone! Nah, you can't see the cobwebs..might just have to come back & take another photo if you're going to keep fussing ; )
      Certainly wish we could have some decent rain everything is becoming very stressed.
      Much love, hugs & friendship x0x0x

  3. Wow...thats amazing...what a strange and lovely place to stumble upon...In our house we are huge Hobbit fans :-) Tommy is going to the premiere in London to be a groopy... and has booked himself a cinema seat at 7.30 in the morning!! mad crazy boy. the mr and I will go more sedately when the fuss has died down.
    I am quite calm this year, first time ever I think, I refuse to be made into a quivering wreck...for what exactly.?.we will have a lovely time, eat to much and be together..lovely :-)
    One day I will be coming to visit your beautiful country..I promise i'll let you know, and you can warm the teapot!
    lots of love
    sophie xxxxx

  4. Hello Sophie...so glad you came to visit then! Mad crazy boy is right! (me being a not a morning person & all that) Perhaps we may wait on the fuss dying down bit too..no real hurry.
    I shall keep you to that promise. I'll assemble my best tea cosies in your honour & have the teapot warming in a jiffy.
    Right, I shall go & wrap another gift in a calm & sedate manner.

  5. Stumbled upon your blog, I was blown away by the first photo. Beautiful. Love the way you described your journey. My eldest son has visited your country a year ago, he was impressed. Loved it very much. I too am a big hobbit fan, ( for over 40 years now) and I'm so glad the movie is coming!! Enjoy your weekend, groetjes, Gerda

  6. Hello Gerda, welcome!! I am so glad that you stumbled in. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm so pleased that your son enjoyed his time here...yes it is a beautiful place to live & explore. I think there may be quite a large crowd of us, by now, looking forward to seeing The Hobbit. Greeting to you : ) Catherine x0x


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