It was whistle-stop sightseeing today when we did a 100km round trip to Matamata, Te Aroha, and back to Morrinsville. Matamata is well known as the home of the famous Opal Hot Springs. But it’s identity seems to have been hi-jacked these days and the town is also known as Hobbiton.
Visitors come from far and wide to take guided tours of the Hobbiton movie set, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The local Information Centre has been reborn as a Hobbit House. We would have loved to have done a Hobbiton Tour – perhaps next time we are up this way.
It was time for lunch and where better than the Kamai Cheese Factory and Cafe at Waharoa, a new building masquerading as a replica 1920’s butter factory. In 1886, after laying the foundation for the Waharoa settlement, Josiah Firth built the first Waharoa Dairy Factory. That first year of production at the Waharoa Dairy Factory saw 25 tonnes of butter and cheddar manufactured on the site. There has been a factory on this site since those early years.
We love cheese so spent a little time choosing some to purchase, and finally decided on Creamy Blue, and Camembert. Now, what to have for lunch? Robin chose a bacon and egg croissant, while I chose something quite different, potato and cheddar cheese dumplings, known as pierogies. This is a Polish delicacy, we were told, and is particularly popular in Canada and USA. They were delicious too, yummy and cheesy. Robin didn’t miss out, as I generously gave him a couple of my tasty little dumplings to try.
Royalty came calling way back in 1929 with a visit from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. What an exciting time for little old Waharoa that must have been when the royal entourage arrived.
Replete after our tasty lunch, we made our way to Te Aroha, a beautiful historic spa town. According to legend, the son of Arawa chief, Kahu-Mata-Momoe was on his way home from visiting a kinsman at Kaipara. He climbed to the top of the mountain, and was overjoyed to see the familiar landmarks of his tribal home. He then decided to name it “Aroha ki tai – This shall be called the Mountain of Aroha. Herein shall forever repose the great love of Kahu-Mata-Momoe”. The legend continues that in time the spirit of Kahu-Mata-Momoe caused a stream of crystal water to flow from the heart of the mountain. Where the stream emerged there appeared hot springs with healing qualities.
Te Aroha is home to the world’s only hot soda water geyser, Mokena geyser. It erupts every 40 minutes or so, and as we sat patiently to wait, we could hear noises as hot water bubbled out of a underground hole in the hillside. Then with a burst, the geyser started to play. It was a little dissapointing, barely 2 feet high, but fun to see as it coughed and spluttered into life.
It was hot work doing all this sightseeing, so we decided to head back to our POP in Morrinsville. With any luck we would be just in time to watch the cows come in for the afternoon milking. Then it would be time for 4zees under the shady silk tree.
Camping here on a dairy farm in Morrinsville, it was time to check out the milking shed. Although we had been staying here several days, we hadn’t really seen the cows come in for milking. Twice a day, the herd of about 240 cows walk up the race into the milking shed, with the contract milk man putt-putting along behind them riding the farm bike. The cows at the front of the herd walk into place in the herringbone stalls, while the others wait their turn in the yard.
Music is often played in the milking shed to sooth the cows, but a different sort of music can be heard in this shed. The contract milk man is an Indian bloke, and the sounds of Indian music waft out in the breeze. Goodness knows what the cows think of this particular ethnic music, perhaps they tap their hooves in time to the Bollywood beat?