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Cruise Ship season has well and truly kicked off for summer. Already Tauranga has seen three Cruise Liners, and we are looking forward to welcoming 81 more ships before the end of March! In Part 1 we introduced the Pacific Coastal Highway as a fantastic day trip to explore the unique attractions and activities on offer in this Region. In Part 2 we go straight to the heart of New Zealand – into Middle Earth!
With the world release of the new Hobbit movie set for November 28, there is no better time to visit the world exclusive ‘Hobbiton’. Hobbiton is the actual Movie set from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was completely rebuilt for the filming of two Hobbit movies in 2011. Located near Matamata, Hobbiton is an easy 45 minute drive from Tauranga.
Situated on picturesque private farmland, when Peter Jackson discovered the rolling green hills of this farm he knew he had found the best possible location to film his trilogy. As you will discover, this farm and its surrounds closely resemble ‘The Shire’ as described by author J.R.R Tolkien. After nine months of construction a Hobbit village was created. Rebuilt for the filming of the Hobbit, the site is now a permanent feature with 44 unique hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, Mill, double arched bridge and the famous Party Tree.
Now that filming is complete, you can tour through this iconic New Zealand film set. On your tour you will be driven through a 1,250 acre working sheep and beef farm, which has spectacular views across to a nearby Mountain range. Your guide will then escort you through the ten acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created.
To make it easier to plan your day trip, the amazing staff at Hobbiton have come up with some awesome ‘Cruise Ship Special’ packages. These packages include an additional farm experience, offering the opportunity to cuddle and bottle feed pet lambs and watch a sheep shearing demonstration. To top off this quintessential kiwi experience, a kiwi barbecue lunch is provided at the ‘Shires Rest’ Cafe.
For those of you who choose the more deluxe tour there is an additional stopover in Rotorua where you get to enjoy a geothermal and cultural experience at the Te Puia cultural centre. Alternatively you can book a tour directly at Hobbiton, this does not include lunch or the farm experience, just make sure you are there 15 minutes before your tour starts.
The cruise ship specials consist of a transport included package, or you can organise your own transport to give you more time to enjoy the drive. The benefit of taking your own transport is that you will be able to have a more leisurely drive to and from Hobbiton. For example, take your time to enjoy the stunning views from the Kaimai ranges, there is a lookout from where you can view the beautiful Waikato farmland. Or follow McLaren Falls Rd off State Highway 29 and you will discover a beautiful lake with a scenic waterfall just a short stroll from the car park.
To make your day trip even more enjoyable, Rite Price Car Rentals offer unlimited kilometres (mileage) for cruise ship passengers. You can walk to their office from the ferry terminal or take advantage of their free shuttle. The staff at Rite Price will go out of their way to make your trip easy to plan, including providing a detailed road map to Hobbiton and other tourist spots along the route.