The Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glow Worm Caves tour is absolutely one worth going on as it offers two varied activities that everyone can enjoy.
Leaving bright and early from Auckland, we journeyed first to the Alexander Family Farm, a large area of land characterised by an incredible number of sheep and other animals. It seems to go on forever and there’s merely a small portion of which the set itself has been built on.
Our excited and very informative tour guide explained the origin of the landscape, how it came to be chosen as the home for this set after a lengthy number of years of searching by Peter Jackson, and why it was decided that the set be kept for visitors to enjoy for the years to come. This is one of the only kept film sets in the world! It clearly requires tremendous upkeep to maintain all of the fascinating little details that make it so special. There are hundreds of different plants, including trees that bear actual fruit and the land is home to a variety of animals, though they are kept away from the set area.
On the short bus ride from the meeting point to the small nest of Hobbiton itself, we were all treated to a film reel that showcased specific scenes in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies wherein the set was utilized, a special treat for big fans of Jackson’s films and Tolkien’s books! All in all, the set offered beautiful views and great moments for capturing photos, including one inside an actual Hobbit Hole, as well as a beer or ale at The Green Dragon, a famed pub located on the premises.
The entire tour lasted about two hours from start to finish and obviously included transportation, as well as a small lunch. The group size in which we toured was significant but not too large that we felt lost in the midst of it. We thoroughly enjoyed making our way around the area and hearing the interesting bits of information about the movies and New Zealand itself. Few films have had the privilege of being shot in such a beautiful area and we are grateful the set was kept exactly the same, so that we really felt we had been transported to Middle Earth, if only for a few short hours!
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
We travelled from the Alexander Farm to the Glow Caves of Waitomo, where we were treated to a beautiful and extremely unique underground cave tour.
The guides are incredibly strict about the restriction of mobile phones, which made the tour all the more special as everyone focused on what was being said as well on the amazing views in front of them. These caves are an amazing spectacle, situated in a very damp, dripping environment, having been formed over thousands of years and are still growing and changing by the day. The limestone sediment formations have grown into a variety of interesting shapes and look almost like icicles, vast and shooting down from the depths of the cave ceilings or shooting up from the cave floors. Some even meet in the middle, forming phenomenal, natural columns. Upon entering unlit areas, if careful and quiet enough, you’ll be able to witness a stunning view of hundreds of small glow worms, which look like constellations against the high cave ceilings!
The worms spin incredible, long, glowing strands in which they aim to catch prey though their adult life span only lasts a matter of days. We were treated to a lovely boat ride in the dark, during which we were able to see hordes of worms light up the darkness. Though the boat ride was quicker than we would have liked, mainly because we could not get enough of the spectacular views, it was an experience we will always remember. All in all, it was a beautiful experience and the caves are a breathtaking natural wonder.