After the most amazing sleep in Waitomo we woke up relatively early to board the bus heading to Matamata. We stopped off first at Ruakuri Bushwalk. This walk took roughly 40 minutes and took us up through the most beautiful caves and ravines. It was pretty exhausting but totally worth it for the scenery even if our legs were still aching the next day..!
The drive from Waitomo to Matamata took about two hours and when we arrived we were blasted with the soundtrack from the Hobbit by our driver, Murray – we were officially in Lord of the Rings land. Now I could not be less interested in these films – I remember hating them when I was younger; I even tried to watch them again in the preceding weeks before I came to NZ; I just could not make myself like them. I therefore had no interest at all in visiting the film set, Hobbiton. Turns out I’m pretty easily persuaded and crack fairly quickly under the weight of peer pressure.
Before I knew it I was paying the entrance fee and making my way into the film set – clearly I have an acute fear of missing out!
We grabbed some lunch before meeting our guide for the morning, Sam. Sam told us all about how the film director Peter Jackson wanted to find farmland with rolling hills to house the film set and how, on a location scouting helicopter trip, came across the sheep farm owned by the Andrews family which fit perfectly his image for the backdrop of Hobbiton. After a series of negotiations (and some assistance from the New Zealand Army) work began and the film set was born.
Sam walked us around Hobbiton showing us all the Hobbit holes and telling us stories of the way the films were made. I hate to admit it but it was so interesting! The attention to detail was amazing, down to all the vegetables in the vege patches being real, the detail of the Hobbit holes and the landscape of the film set – it really was beautiful!
Our tour finished with a beer in the Green Dragon pub.
I can’t believe I’ve been converted. I’ll have to try again with the films when I’m home!
Nicole, one of the Irish girls on our bus, was a mega fan and literally couldn’t contain her excitement – I think watching her made the whole trip completely worthwhile! Ha!
Having left our hobbit shoes behind we hopped back on board the bus and made our way to the city of Rotorua where we would be spending the next few days.