Caves and Caverns: Highlights of the Central North Island

Hidden amongst the rolling green hills and fertile farmland of the North Island are some must-see destinations. Make sure they're on your NZ itinerary!

Hobbiton Movie Set

This attraction is quite literally tucked away, on private farmland just out of the rural town of Matamata. Way back in 1998 the farm’s owners were approached by Sir Peter Jackson and his team, who reckoned it would be a perfect filming location for the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. After months of hard work, the village of Hobbiton was painstakingly created on the farm, complete with Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the infamous Party Tree and thousands of tiny details that brought the set to life on screen.

The set was rejuvenated and expanded for the more recent Hobbit movies, and today you can visit Hobbiton and take a guided tour of the set. You can stand where the stars stood, hear about how this little piece of Middle-earth was constructed and you might even pick up some secrets from behind the scenes!

 

Waitomo Caves

About an hour away from Hobbiton is different kind of hole, also home some fascinating creatures – no, not hobbits, but glowworms. The Waitomo Caves are a network of soaring limestone caverns, underground rivers, fascinating rock formations and magical grottos illuminated by thousands of native glowworms and just waiting to be explored.

A 45-minute tour is enough time to see the caves and includes a boat ride through the enchanting Glowworm Grotto. Imagine sitting silently in the darkness as your boat glides through underground caverns, as glowworms twinkle overhead like a myriad of tiny constellations.

Find out more about the Waitomo Caves and other things to do in the area.

 

Rotorua

Okay, so this one’s not really a secret – for many travellers, Rotorua is the main drawcard of the Central North Island. Whether you’re interested in New Zealand’s Māori culture, Rotorua’s unique geothermal attractions, local wildlife, farming or keen to throw yourself into some adventure sports, Rotorua’s got it all.

Read more about what to do in Rotorua.

 

Other Central North Island highlights

There are so many other places worth visiting in the Central North Island – head to Taupo for fishing and boating, enjoy snowsports and hiking at National Park and Ruapehu... 

 

How to get around the Central North Island

So now that all these destinations are on your bucket list, how are you going to see them? ‘Caves and Caverns’ is an InterCity TravelPass itinerary that includes travel from Auckland to Matamata, a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, bus from Matamata to Rotorua and back to Auckland via the Waitomo Caves. You can do it all in 2 days or spend longer exploring – it’s up to you.

Find out more about InterCity’s Caves and Caverns TravelPass.

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