Our first day started early since we had a long drive to our first activity. The drive through the green country side was met with overcast skies and rain. Halfway to our destination, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at a small random cafe. We tried an egg and bacon pastry with a cappuccino and apple juice. Another hour on the road and we made it Waitomo. A last minute addition to our trip, the Waitomo glow worm caves were one of the more amazing things we have done. The tour started walking down 40 meters below the earth to enter into a boat. Our guide then began to navigate our raft through the darkness. Before we knew it, thousands of glow worms lite up the cave ceiling just above our heads. We sat in perfect silence with no other light than that of the small worms above which made even the depths of this hole in the ground look like the night sky. Simply put, if you get the chance, visit this cave.
We then got back on the road and headed up to Matamata to visit the famous Hobbitton movie site. With about an hour to spare for our scheduled tour time, we drove into town and ate a small lunch and explored the local shops. Matamata is out in the middle of farm country and there is not much to do except visit the Shire. We roamed the gift shop and were soon on our tour bus heading out to see the hobbit holes. This is truly a magical place, where Tolkien’s world comes to life. After rounding a corner, the whole of Hobbiton comes into view. Just prior, our guide had asked, “Are you ready? Welcome to Hobbitton.” Our guide then took us on a journey exploring the tiny village. We were told that each hole is different and represents a different job of each hobbit. M won a small prize for finding the town drunk hobbit hole. Yes, apparently they included a town drunk and if you visit, try to find it. We got our pictures inside the buildings, and in front of Bag End, unfortunately no one was home. Our evening continued with a visit to the Green Dragon. The original was actually burned during filming of the Lord of the Rings and then rebuilt for the Hobbit and future use as a restaurant. We sampled some “Hobbit” hard cider and beer before we were taken to our Hobbit style feast. The tables were filled with mountains of food, plenty for seconds! After dessert, we were given lanterns for our night walk back through the town. It was an incredible moment to take in. Each hobbit hole was lite up as if each hobbit had returned from working the fields to a quiet evening dinner. At one point, we stood before the party field and everyone turned off their lanterns. Matching the beauty of the Shire was the night sky above. K had never seen so many stars before in her life. The clouds had broke for the entire Milky Way to shine. We both got to see the constellation, the Southern Cross, which is shown on both the flags of Australia and New Zealand. Our tour ended and we quickly got in the car and drove three hours back through the country side to our place and crawled into bed after a long and amazing day.