On our last riding day we went to visit a very, very special place: Hobbiton, the home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. The place is so incredibly picturesque and cute that everybody wanted to become a Hobbit and stay here. But we went on to Auckland and celebrated our last dinner together in the revolving restaurant on Sky Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. It was a great tour, a great group having a great time. Thanks for coming, guys!
The artificial tree. It cost 1,7 million dollars to build it...
Ben it a bit too tall for the hobbit hole, but Claire fits right in
Ellie and her dad John
LOTR-fan and hobbit-friend Ellie is in heaven!
Ben from Canada, walking Gandalf-Style...
The Mexicans felt like they were walking through a fairy tale
What a place. Will there be a Hobbiton Touring Center in the future?
Katharina is very excited!
Sebastian, proud miller of Hobbiton
"Viking" Paul had everybody sign his shirt
Lee brought his wife to dinner. Married for 50 years and still happy. Congratulations!!!
Katharina and Brad. Don't be fooled, this is New Zealand, not Morocco...
After three days on the North Island we arrived in Rotorua today, the center of the Maori population. We had a traditional Hangi dinner and a cultural show, where the ladies were taught how to swing the Poi and the guys could try their luck with the Haka, the Maori war dance. To make a long story short: it was hilarious! Check out these pictures:
Diane with a Poi, waiting for the command to start swinging it
Despite all the Pois that got swung around: this is not a swinger club
These are the fiercest warriors in the group!
Wow, very scary, Lee! And great shirt, by the way.
Carlos' first try. Can you believe he forgot to stick out his tongue???
Ben loved the Haka. But we think he would have enjoyed some Poi dancing, too!
Now who is the Maori here? Impressive performance, Luis (right)!
A photo with a pretty dancer is Carlos' reward for joining the Haka.
Sebastian didn't go on stage but he still got his reward.
Look fierce, mean and ugly, boys! Well done!!!
Here is also a video of this beautiful event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1dRdiLk1H0&feature=youtu.be
Feel free to leave a comment...
The west coast of New Zealand's South Island is infamous for being one of the wettest places on earth. But when we were there it was dry, sunny and hot. We took helicopters up to the top of Fox Glacier, had a wonderful picnic next to a pristine lake, enjoyed spectacular vistas of the wild coastline, rode the countless beautiful curves of Buller River Road, got in touch with the locals during our farmstay in the Nelson region, and then finally cought the ferry to Wellington. And believe it or not, it is still dry, sunny and hot, even here in the Windy City.
A walk through the rainforest is a very special experience, even on a sunny day.
John and Luis embark on an exciting heli trip to Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier from the air
Carlos and his chopper. And we're not talking about his Harley...
Carlos, Ellie, John and Paul, having fun in the snow.
Dense rainforest and snow covered mountains as a backdrop. New Zealand is a wonderland.
"Miss Picnic" Katharina
another great picnic in a great location. Thank you, Katharina!
"The Viking" and Dave are shaping up for the next Chippendales event.
Tour guide Thomas, running for his position in the group picture.
A happy crowd: 23 people from 6 countries.
Carlos and Lee can't wait to get going!
Multitasking: tour guides can pose for pictures and make phone calls simultaneously.
The spectacular coastline at Dolomite Point.
Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave...
The Mexicans and the Viking: a great friendship in the making.
Carlos carved the tunnel in the background with his bare hands in just under half an hour, so we could go through with our bikes. Good job, Carlos!!!
The Edelweiss support vehicle. Who says you can't deliver luggage in style?
Chuck and his Harley.
Charlene, Luis and Mark are enjoying their farm stay. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Greg has a look at Queen Charlotte Sound. You can spot the bow of our ferry on the far right. The sea was smooth as silk on that day.
Entering the ferry
A hearty lunch in the lounge made everybody tired.
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Christian himself tried to put this picture in the blog, but after 2 years of inactivity his blog account seems to be blocked. So here it is now: the view from Coronet Peak, outside Queenstown, on Friday, January 25, 2013. Photo by Christian Preining.
Paul, Luis, Mark, Sebastian, Alan and Christian on Coronet Peak. Great vista!!!
Yesterday we headed out to tackle one of the most spectacular motorcycle roads on the planet: Milford Road. Countless curves through dense rainforest took us up to Homer Tunnel, elev. 900 m, then the road quickly drops down to sea level and reaches Milford Sound. During the last 20 days this area received more than 2000 mm (80 inches) of rain, but when we arrived in Milford the sky was blue. We boarded a cruise ship and went out on the water where we could see countless waterfalls, dense rainforest on the steep rocky slopes, seals and dolphins. Milford Sound is a sight to behold; take a look:
Alan treats himself to a coffee just before departure
John, Ellie and Paul enjoy the cruise
Carlos comes to see Captain Graeme in the cockpit
there is always a group of seals in Milford Sound, posing for the tourists.
Sebastian, having a good time
This is Luis on his GS. Milford Road descends into the valley below
The road hugging the coastline of Lake Wakatipu is simply gorgeous!
Day 2 offered a scenic ride through the interior of the South Island. There was adventure at the Bungy Bridge and culinary delights of the picnic on the beach of Lake Wakatipu. We made it to TeAnau just in time before it started to rain, but by the time we were done with dinner the sky was already blue again. Well, almost. Here are some more pics:
Great views from Lindis Pass
Daredevil Carlos from Mexico, about to jump off a perfectly good bridge...
Ellie just can't wait to get going. She hardly gave us enough time to prep our cameras!
And here she is, dangling from Kawarau Bridge.
Carlos, Ellie and Paul the Viking after the jump.
Watching people jumping off the bridge made us hungry. Thankfully we had a picnic waiting for us at Lake Wakatipu.
Norwegians are tough people. Paul didn't hesitate one second before he jumped into the icy waters of Lake Wakatipu.
How cold is the water, Paul???
Paul and Lee, enjoying some home made ice cream.
Well, down here in New Zealand temperatures hit 83°F (28°C) today! It felt great to be ona bike again after the winter! Under a clear blue sky we rode from Christchurch up to the High Country and enjoyed the spectacular views of the Southern Alps. Just look at these pictures!