Now… where to begin?
I CAN’T BELIEVE WE SAW AN ACTUAL DRAG–
On second thought. maybe not there – let’s start with breakfast.
Pre-dawn start today (so much more time for activities!), and a buffet breakfast at the hotel, getting to meet more people I didn’t get a chance to the night before. After packing up everything (including my stomach), we boarded Shadowfax (our coach), met our driver Ray, and begun the two+ hour journey to Matamata (or Mada Mada if you’re a Japanese Cyborg-Ninja).
The journey there reminded me of our drives through Ireland, with rolling green hills, farms/animals and an ever-present grey looming cloud to block the harshness of the Sun. Some tidbits and trivia as we went, as well as some idle small-talk to pass the time. Soon enough, we pulled up to our drop point and all hopped off for a small break/souvenir shop and to pick up our tour guide, Theresa.
A short drive later, and we arrive to our destination. Following the winding path, Hobbiton opens up before us, in all its glory.
We didn’t get as much time as I would have liked (is there enough time in the world for that?), but lagging behind certainly helped get clearer photos with less people around to have to edit out later, though soon another tour group came up behind us and forced us to rush through a bit.
The whole set is incredible though – it certainly feels like a working, living village, with an inspiring amount of attention-to-detail. Each hobbit house feels unique and lived-in, all the gardens are alive with flourishing flowers, bees buzzing, birds chirping. It’s basically what you’d imagine and hope for when seeing it on film.
I took over 500 photos, so I’ve tried to include a bunch here which I could be bothered to process. More may follow, but you get the idea.
We climbed up the hill to Bag End, which was cool to see, though I wish we could’ve walked up to the door, past the fence. But then again, we weren’t on party business, so it’s fair enough.
Down the hill to Sam’s house and the surrounding hobbit holes.
Then off across the bridge, past the mill, to where the Green Dragon lies. That’s right! The Green Dragon is a pub! Get clickbaited.
I lingered behind so much that I missed out on sitting inside for long and enjoying a drink, but I got some nice photos/video outside with no-one around. We then headed into our marquee tent to enjoy our buffet feast, which once again had great food, and a lot of variety. Would recommend it next time you’re ordering from Uber International Eats.
After our meal, it was back to the coach for a scenic drive to our next hotel in Rotorua. There was a small delay with our rooms, so we got a complimentary drink and relaxed at the bar for a bit until they were ready.
After a short rest, in which I wrote some of this, plus downloaded/began editing today’s photos, we headed off to a Mitai show/dinner/evening, which is contains information, songs, dances, food and other traditional Maori things. There was an amazing theatrical performance, including a powerful Haka performed by the tribe.
After the show, we had a delicious feast (another amazing buffet), followed by a nighttime nature walk to see the glowworms, as well as the nocturnal native Kiwi birds. We even got to see a freshly hatched Kiwi as an added treat!
It’s way too late to still be awake considering my 5:30am alarm, so time for sleep. Overall though, what a day.
My back hurts.