New Zealand- Hobbiton and Waitamo Glow Worm Caves
The next morning we were up bright and early, partly due to the incurable jetlag, and because we needed to get to Hobbiton early. Since we were up so early we had additional time to take pictures of the sunrise at the beach. Ahh the amazing benefits of jet lag.
We loaded the car headed off for our two hour drive to the Shire’s Rest of Hobbiton. Stopping along the way at a grocery store to pick up water and other fun snacks for the long road trip. We had to prebook our tickets due to the demand we choose to also add on the lunch as we had to eat somewhere so why not. It is was expensive at $120NZ ($86USD) each for the tour and lunch combo.
Hobbiton was really busy! There were over 50 people on our tour bus which was way too many for one tour guide to manage. Due to the layout of Hobbinton, We could never get close enough to hear what our guide was talking about. We felt this was disappointing but instead tried to make the best of it and just took pictures.
Lunch at Hobbiton
When we got to the Green Dragon we had our choice of beer or non-beer (think butter beer) and a very short time to sit buy the fire. Then they took us to lunch in an adjacent themed tent.
Since we were on the early tour at 10:10am we were some of the first people at lunch and were seated next to a nice couple from Chicago. It was great to hear about there trip and amazingly this redeemed the whole experience for us. While it was our experience that Hobbinton was too busy. Some advice would be to try looking for times that are less desirable then mid Saturday morning. Maybe do a tour when they first open would have less people. I am glad we did it but… Cha-Ching the money they must make.
Waitamo Glow Worm Caves
Next we were off for another hour drive to the town of Waitamo. We had pre-booked the last 3:30pm Glow Worm Cave tour through Spellbound Tours. It was a smaller company that had a more intimate experience. We did pay extra for the smaller group it was $150NZ for 2. ($108USD) But one of our friends said this was the highlight of her recent trip to NZ so we rolled the dice.
The road out to the caves was “rough”. I never get car sick but was on the verge. We hiked down to the cave and walked through one dry glow worm cave. The next cave was a wet cave and we took a boat through to see the glow worms. We especially liked that the guide took his time to help us get pictures as it was very difficult to shoot the caves without a tripod. We shared our photos with everyone on trip. Overall it was a great experience. I am glad we choose to do a small group tour rather than the big tours after our experience at Hobbinton.
Grand Chateau Tongariro
Next we got in the car again to drive the long drive to the Grand Chateau Tongariro. When I saw the pictures of this old historic hotel it reminded me of the National Park hotel like Many Glaciers. It was a hard reservation to get but rearrange our schedule so that there was availability on the night we wanted to start the hike. The cost was $285NZ ($209USD) for one night.
When we arrived there was a big rain storm off in the distance which made for some amazing dramatic photos. We checked in and staff was very accommodating in answering our questions. Our room was on the top floor over looking the mountains. It was by far the nicest hotel of our entire trip.
We were hoping to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as it is listed as “The best day hike in New Zealand”. But that night I was waffling if we were ready for big hike after the past two crazy full travel days and the jet lag. To hike or not?
Next up, did we hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
This is part of a larger trip report, Please read more at the following links.
Cruise New Zealand- Wellington- coming soon!