We started travelling south and came across the town of Matamata.
Once unknown to most travellers, the shooting of the Shire scenes for the trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" (LOTR) in nearby location have made this place a tourist attraction.The famous sets - such as the entrance of Bag End and the Party Tree - were left behind and soon tours started to be organized. We considered the cheapest tour ticket (around 50€) to be too much for our budget and for what you are really able to visit, even considering such a huge fan as João.
Luckily, Hobbiton/Matamata has LOTR thematic a bit across town and that was enough to appease João's inner Tolkien.In the picture above, Joao is in front of the Tourism Office of Matamata.
We wouldn't have to wait much until we visit many other places related to the LOTR or The Hobbit movies!
The Kuirau Park is located in the centre of the city and as you walk in what seems a very regular park you start to see the signs of warning. Then you notice the fences around a bunch of trees with steam coming from the middle of it. As you get closer to these marked places you realise the steam is coming from holes on the ground and next to it you notice the bubbling puddle of mud! There is volcanic activity all around!
The lakes around the park are also bubbling and the smell of sulphur is felt in many corners of it. It is probably the weirdest park we've ever been!
The city of Rotorua sits next to the large lake of the same name. Without surprise, but still impressive, the lake was formed on the crater of a gigantic volcano. There are other lakes of volcanic origin around and it was near one of them that we set our home-car for the night, just in front of a lovely nature scenery.