Alright, we are going back a ways, travelers. Back to the middle of May, when my father was here! It was a very exciting time. This move to New Zealand has been the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my family. I mean, we’ve FaceTimed lots but it’s not the same as being in the same room with them. Plus I was really looking forward to having someone to travel with! So, two weeks worth of adventures with Dad starts now!
As with most flights into New Zealand from the States, Dad landed nice and early in Auckland then caught a bus from the airport into Hamilton. I had avoided driving in Auckland for this long, and I wasn’t about to start when there was a perfectly good bus that could do it for me. Instead I made the familiar drive up to Hamilton and picked Dad up at the Transport Center.
He had managed to get an earlier bus from the airport so he was already there waiting when I arrived. I walked into the building and saw him on the far side, standing by one of the tables drinking a Coke. I tried to resist doing the cliché long-parted-then-reunited run (that’s a thing, right?) but gave up halfway across the room and ran in for a big hug from my Old Man. Six months! That’s a long time not to see your father.
We chatted for a bit, and looked over a map he had grabbed. I traced out for him the route we would be taking around the North Island over the next couple of weeks. From there we walked out to the car and loaded his luggage into the back. We had to kill a few more minutes because I was waiting for someone to come and pick up my bookshelf. The woman was there within five minutes and the sale was complete. Afterwards we drove down the block to have a proper breakfast.
On an earlier excursion into Hamilton, I had chanced across a place called Coffee of Philosophy. It advertised vegetarian eating, which I’m always on the hunt for. So Dad and I stopped in there and both had excellent meals and a cup of tea. The tea was a bit burnt and not the best, but it served us well enough. We took our tea for takeaway and headed down for a walk along the river. On our way, we stopped in a square where a statue dedicated to Riff Raff had been erected. They also had a plaque with instructions for the Time Warp.
Dad and I traversed the steps and ramps down to the water’s edge and strolled along sipping our tea. After a bit we came to a small gazebo and sat down to talk. Though it was the middle of May, winter hadn’t quite set in in earnest (man, that feels weird to type). The sun was out and the breeze was soft and cool. It wasn’t long though before the tea got too bitter to drink. So we dumped it over the railing and headed back to the car.
The first day was pretty low key. Dad had just spent 13 hours on a plane. Sleep was the most important thing for him to do that day, but first we had a tour to take. And lucky for me, I wasn’t giving it! Dad is by no means a LOTR/Hobbit fan like I am, but he is familiar with the Hobbit and even played Gandalf in his high school’s production of the well-loved classic. Plus I knew he would want to check out the place I’d been working for the last five months.
I won’t say too much about the tour. We were fortunate with both the driver and the guide. Mr. Mike Rophone took us to and from set and the lovely Debbie guided us around Hobbiton. I made Dad pose for a few pictures, and even smile in a couple of them. I took advantage of my non-work time in Hobbiton, of course, and got a few photos of my own. And when we got to the Green Dragon, I managed to get a bonnet on Dad. Fantastic. It might not have been the most enthusiastic group ever to walk through set, but Dad and I had a good time.
With our tour finished, and after I had said some hellos and goodbyes to former co-workers, Dad and I drove back into Matamata. We would be spending the night at my soon-to-be former flat. My landlady had been good enough to make up the bed for Dad, and when we got home we spent a nice bit of time chatting with them before calling it an early night and turning in for bed. Tomorrow, the real adventure would begin.