River Valley Lodge is a lovely lodge that is in the middle of nowhere but surrounded by some stunning scenery. It’s a little bit off the beaten track (there were very few people staying there who weren’t on our bus) but worth seeking out.

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Great Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake which also happens to be a caldera (sunken volcano) which is still active. The average depth of the lake is 100m and in some places you can see the water bubbling but it isn’t hot enough to warm up the entire lake. We both really liked Taupo (pronounced toe-paw) and there is plenty to keep you occupied for a few days. There is also quite a strange mix of activities – you can do all the adrenaline filled activities but there are also quite a few retirement homes.

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When planning our trip to New Zealand James and I knew that we wanted to go hiking (or tramping as it’s called here) but were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to manage one of the multi-day great walks. As a one day walk, and one that went past Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings films, the Tongariro Crossing was soon a definite on our itinerary.

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For Lord of the Rings fans, Hobbiton is one of the must see places in New Zealand (although ironically a good number of their visitors have never seen the films or read any of the books) and it was pretty high on James’s wishlist of places to see. Conveniently located between Waitomo and Rotorua it was a good place for us to stop off for a few hours and take the tour.

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