On Saturday 29 October, a group consisting 5 from Japan, 2 from South Korea and myself went to Hobbiton and Waitomo. I picked up the members of the group at Auckland Institute of Studies at 8.30am. The day was warm and fine, with temperatures ranging between 16 and 18 degrees.
Destination: Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves
We checked in to Hobbiton Ticket Office at 10.45 and our tour started at 11am. A short bus trip though farmland which has about 2,500 sheep, took us to the entry of the Hobbiton movie set.
Our guide led us through the village which is nestled in the hills of the farmland, explaining the features of the movie set. Our group was often at the back of the main group while we were taking photos of the 39 Hobbit holes (houses).
The Hobbit holes are all distinctive – some had small gardens around them, one had fish fillets hanging out to dry, while another was obviously a woodcutters’ and had piles of wood.
The tour of Hobbiton finished at The Green Dragon Inn where we were given a complimentary drink. There was a choice of 2 beers, an apple cider or a non-alcoholic drink which was ginger beer.
The bus returned us to the starting point for the tour – the Hobbiton Tours Ticket Office and Carpark and our tour finished at 1pm.
Waitomo is 1 hour 15 minutes from Hobbiton so the group had lunch in the van while I drove (I skipped lunch), so we could get to Waitomo in time for our 2.30pm tour of Glowworm Cave. Our guide told us about the caves, showing us formations and leading us down deeper and deeper into the cave until we reached the underground river. We got into the boat and were taken into the large chamber of the cave which is covered with glowworms. I have been there many times but it is still a magical sight.
Our next stop was Ruakuri Cave. Ruakuri Cave offers the opportunity to walk for nearly 2 hours through the cave network, looking at stalactites (the ones which hang from the ceiling), stalagmites (the ones on the ground) and many other fascinating rock, especially limestone, formations.
We could also get close-up to glowworms and easily see them and their delicate threads hanging down which they use to catch food. Ruakuri also has a spectacular spiral ramp for an entrance.
We finished our tour just after 5.30pm and drove a couple of minutes to Huhu Café, which is one of my favourite restaurants. The atmosphere was inviting, with a roaring fire which warmed us all up. There is a good range of dishes on the menu, all extremely tasty. As usual everyone was more than satisfied with their dinner.
We said ‘bye to the staff of Huhu Café and returned to Auckland, the drive taking a bit more than the usual 2 hours 30 minutes because after it got dark, we stopped for some stargazing time.