On The QT

Hobbiton Movie Set & Waitomo Caves

Guest Blogger: Marie Barry

Whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan or not, I would highly recommend a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Situated in Matamata in the North Island, the rolling hills of the Alexander Farm are where you will find thirty-nine Hobbit holes in The Shire, which features in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

The tour takes you to each Hobbit hole, where you can admire the charming little dwellings which seem to just pop up out of the hills. We had plenty time to explore each Hobbit hole, and were encouraged to take as many photos as we desired. The higher we climbed up the Shire, the more beautiful the scenery got. Those rolling green hills just seemed to go on for ever until they met that brilliant blue New Zealand sky.

Our guide was excellent, and told us lots of interesting facts about the making of the trilogies, and the construction of the Shire. The highlight was a visit to Bag End, the home of the wealthiest Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. As we left the dwelling areas, we wandered down a series of winding paths until we emerged at a bridge which took us over the river to The Green Dragon, the local Shire pub. Here we were treated to a mug of cider and had some time to relax outside and admire the lake view, before returning to the Hobbiton visitor centre.


Travel about an hour and a half south-west of Matamata and you’ll come to Waitomo Caves. This underground attraction is made up of three separate caves, two of which we visited. The first one we explored was Aranui cave, which was a spectacular experience. The cave hosted many impressive stalactites and stalagmites, along with some imaginative formations such as the birds nest, the vegetable garden and my personal favourite – the two old ladies. What enthused me the most about the cave was that it seemed to never end. Each time we stopped in a dark cavern, another corner would open up and lead us to somewhere else. Each corner in the darkness turned another surprise.


The second cave we visited was the glow worm cave. While it was much bigger than Aranui cave, it wasn’t necessarily as impressive. Until we met with the glow worms that is. We were led down to an underground river, where we boarded wooden boats and were advised to turn off anything that shone a light, and to be completely silent, as lights and noise would deter the glow worms. Sure enough, less than a minute later, the cave ceiling started to twinkle with little pricks of light – the glow worms were working their magic! We floated about in the boats for a few minutes, silently admiring the starry sky effect made by these little creatures. Soon we emerged out of the cave, floating into the dusky evening and allowed our eyes to slowly adjust to the twilight.


Feeling peckish after our busy day, we stopped in nearby Te Kuiti for some dinner. Although the town had more than its fair share of fast food restaurants, we managed to find a brilliant restaurant on the Main Street called Stoked. Here we ordered steamed mussels in white wine cream sauce, which arrived out in the pot with a plate of homemade garlic bread on the side. The mussels were some of the biggest I’d ever seen, fresh from the sea and tasting of salt, and were absolutely delicious. Afterwards we relaxed with a mocha and looked back over the day’s events.

Leave a Reply
Shopping cart close