May 8th - Mother's Day - Sunday
From Auckland to Hobbiton Movie Set Tour - 2 1/2 hour drive
When one finds themselves in New Zealand you have to visit at least one of the Lord of the Rings filming locations. "Doing the thing you are supposed to do in the place you're supposed to do it".
Originally I was looking at doing the tour that the hotel shows you in their brochures. Those tours however are so crazy expensive. Not to mention it would involve being stuck on a bus with people (I do not like people). So my brother and I decided to drive to the location instead considering we already had a car with GPS. Plus this way you are able to stop anywhere you like along the way to take photographs if you wish. I am not on anyone's time in this manner as well and I can enjoy jamming out to my own music. (side note: Load your phone with music or take an Ipod as most of the rental cars have bluetooth or take a axillary male to male cable.)
The drive was good with lots of country side views, greenery, sheep, and cattle for the most part. We took off early as our tour was at 11:30AM and got to enjoy the early morning fog on the country lands for some of the drive. It was cloudy which was great for photography and also no sunburn.
(side note: pack some snacks and water in your travel bag. Make sure that your camera is charged with a large memory card. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking. Depending on the weather pack a light windbreaker, hoodie, hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses.)
We gassed up the car and stopped for a quick fast food breakfast at the McDonalds. We got two massive McMuffins and coffee. I do not do anything before having my black coffee.
We arrived in Matamata to get some photographs in front of the Welcome to Hobbiton sign. (they do not have sign like this on the movie set tour). There is a gift shop which is designed as one of the Hobbit homes which makes for great photo ops. The movie set is actually 20 minutes from this location.
We arrived at the movie set tour just in time as you are to be there 15 minutes before your tour begins. The tour cost $79 (NZ) for an Adult and the tour lasts about 2 hours.
There is a motor coach bus that takes you up to the hill to begin your walking tour. It is up and down the entire time on your walking tour. Lucky to have a fun tour guide Jordan which I listen to from the back of everyone else so that I was able to capture lots of photographs. I was blown away on how gorgeous the grounds were. Lushes greens throughout the lands. I would take a zoom lens and a standard lens if using a DSLR camera as you might want to capture the sheep which are far away and some other sights during the tour. You do not get to go into all of the Hobbit homes which you pass along the tour. They only allow you to go into one of them to check it out and for photograph of yourself in front of it while you are inside. Your last stop on the tour is at the Hobbit Pub where you can relax for a while and a free beer is included. (many photo ops are available inside the pub). A gift shop is available on site but it is quite pricey as you would imagine. I got a magnet as it was reasonable priced.
We drove back into Matamata to get t some lunch before heading back to Auckland. We had just placed our order at Subway when our luck would have it the Subway credit card machine was down. So we walked down to the ATM to attempt to pull cash out and that was down as well. We ended up having to drive down to the McDonalds and they had no issue with their machines. I know McDonalds in the same day twice but we were starving so did not feel like driving around to look for another place to eat.