Departing Auckland at 8.45am
Travelling south, we leave Auckland, as we climb over the volcanic hills, known as the Bombay’s, to enter the main dairy farming region of NZ, the Waikato. We stop at an elevated view to enjoy the vista across the Hauraki Plains, with the Kaimai-Coromandel Ranges in the background.
Then on to Matamata and the unique information centre, built like a hobbit house and a photo opportunity with the Gollum statue. It’s then a short drive to Hobbiton and Shire’s Rest, to arrive by 11:45 pm. Your journey begins aboard the Hobbit Coach, as your local guide relays the history and stories of the 1250 acre working sheep and cattle farm. Your local guide will then escort you around the movie set, containing 44 hobbit holes, Bilbo’s house - Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins home), the Mill and double arch bridge and party tree. Concluding at the Green Dragon, enjoy a complimentary beer, cider or non alcoholic ginger beer, while soaking in the atmosphere. A buffet lunch follows in the Party Marquee, next to the Green Dragon. Our next stop is the photogenic Lake Karapiro, formed by the construction of the hydro dam on the Waikato River, with the 797m Mt Maungatautari, an andesitic volcano, making a dramatic backdrop.
Onto the Hamilton Gardens, in our largest inland city, awarded International Garden of The Year 2014. Not technically a botanical garden, but rather 21 themed gardens representing the beliefs, art, lifestyle, and traditions of different civilisations or historical garden styles. Our drive back to Auckland takes us through Hamilton, tracing the Waikato River as we go.