[Auckland] Day Trip to Hobbiton & Waitomo Glowworm Caves

While I was in Auckland, I took a day trip to visit the magical Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves with TIME Unlimited Tours! Both the Hobbiton and Waitomo Glowworm Caves are New Zealand's most famous attractions, and because of their proximity to each other, they are usually visited together. From Auckland, it took around 2.5 hours by car before we arrived at the Hobbiton Movie Set. For those who are not familiar, the movie set was featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies as the home of the Hobbits. Admittedly while I wasn't a fan of the movie trilogies, I still really enjoyed walking around the gorgeous rolling hill pastures, seeing all the different Hobbit Holes and grabbing a drink at the Green Dragon Inn!

Did you know that the Hobbiton movie set is located inside a privately-owned sheep farm? Apparently when the movie crew was doing location scouting in New Zealand, they spotted a single beautiful pine tree next to a lake on the Alexander farm and that's how The Shire was created. The beautiful pine tree would later be known as the Party Tree.

Tours operate daily and each last approximately 2 hours. It's best to pre-book the tours in advance because they tend to sell out. There are 3 departure points for the tours but the most popular one is probably The Shire's Rest which also has a cafe and souvenir shop. Visitors are then located onto a big bus to be transported to the Hobbiton movie set since no private cars are allowed onsite. I was actually on a private tour so we got to see the site at our own pace and had a lot more time to take pictures.

Our tour guide was enthusiastic and passionate about Hobbiton as she explained how the set was created. While there are real and fake elements, they really try to make everything look realistic including chimneys which are still blowing smoke.

"No admittance except on party business" Fans would know that this is the entrance to Bag End - home to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! The big tree on top of the Hobbit Hole is actually fake as it was not feasible to build under a real tree.

And this is the famous Party Tree where Bilbo Baggins had his farewell birthday party.

All of the Hobbit Holes are all decorated differently depending on whom it belonged to - a fisherman, florist, baker, etc.

Real clothes were hung outside to dry and they were moving with the wind...

Many of the Hobbit Holes are not built to 100% to size so you can feel really tall taking pictures in front of some of them.

Our tour ended at the famous Green Dragon Inn which required just a short walk through the woods and over a stone bridge! One complimentary drink is included and you can choose from two traditional ales, apple cider or ginger beer. Food is also available for purchase but since we were going to eat lunch at The Party Marquee, we refrained from trying any.

The Party Marquee is just next to the Green Dragon Inn and lunch is served in the form of buffet. It's available at an additional cost and must be booked at the time of booking the tour. The feast included a selection of salad, pasta, curry, chicken, roast beef, fish cakes and desserts. We ate like a Hobbit before heading out to our next destination - the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

After an hour's drive from the Hobbiton, we arrived at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves! The glowworm is unique to New Zealand and I think it really is a must-see for anyone visiting the country. The 45 minute tour started with a walk through the caves and culminated with an amazing boat ride in the Glowworm Grotto where we glided in complete silence and darkness under the myriad of glowworms - it was like stargazing at night but with stars that were much closer and glowing in blue. Unfortunately no photography and video are allowed inside the cave to protect the glowworms, but you can find plenty of images taken by professionals online.

Check out my posts on my stay at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland and Waiheke Island if you haven't!

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