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New Zealand Day 6: Rotorua

 << Previous Post: Day 5 - Huka Falls of Taupo << 

We stayed for a night in Rotorua, a city in the Bay of Plenty region of North Island, New Zealand. It is the centre of a remarkable array of hot springs, boiling mud pools, and spouting geysers. 

Te Puia, Geothermal Wonderland and Maori Cultural Centre
Kicked off our day in Rotorua by visiting Te Puia, a spectacular geothermal valley and home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.  It took nearly 5 minutes drive from our hotel to Te Puia and there is an ample parking space for visitors to park their cars for free. We didn't book any guided tour and so, we did the sightseeing on our own. 

We went and visited the Kiwi House but unfortunately, we didn't spot any of New Zealand's famous flightless bird and national icon. Quite disappointed because we're looking forward to see one, at least. 

Our visit ended at Maori Culture Village for the daily cultural performances, including the famous welcoming Haka dance by the local Maori. 

Rotorua Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa
It is a local museum and art gallery in the Government Gardens near the centre of Rotorua. But then, we didn't visit the museum from inside because we're more attracted with the beautiful and fascinating government garden surrounded the museum. It's well-maintained and manicured with lots of colourful flowers. Absolutely perfect for those who are looking for Instagram spot. 

And that's how my friends and I spent our day in Rotorua before driving back to Auckland. 
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New Zealand Day 5: Huka Falls of Taupo

 << Previous Post: Day 5 - Hobbiton Movie Set <<

Since our tour to Hobbiton Movie Set ended around noon time, we had ample of time for the next adventures. But before that, let's fill up the hungry tummy first, or else no energy later.  

#1: Asian always be Asian. My friends and I decided to settle our lunch at Japanese Restaurant instead.

From Matamata town in the Waikato region, we continue by driving to Lake Taupo, approximately 1 and half hour drive. Lake Taupo is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania. Not far away from the lake is the country's most visited attractions, Huka Falls which one of the main reasons we drove to Taupo. 

Not far away from where we parked our car, we can hear clearly the sound of the gigantic, strong and furious water flows. As we got nearer, we're blew away by the crystal clear turquoise coloured fall.  No word can ever described how stunning this fall is. Sometimes when we're too busy with life, we tend to forget how incredible is our mother's nature works. It's best for us to stop a while, and admire while we still have the chance to do so.  

#2: Huka Falls of Taupo

#3: Walking trails and viewing platforms for the photographer and nature lovers to relish the falls at every possible angle.

#4: Jet boats zooming 

#5: One of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand

Don't worry about the admission fee cause it's free. As well as the parking lot. So do stopby here if you have the chance. 

We settled our night in Rotorua, which takes another 1 hour drive there. If you are planning to drive around New Zealand, try to gather those friends who have valid driving license so that you can rotate the drivers. Driving from one point to another in New Zealand can be exhausting. 




Roto Vegas Motel
Date Stayed: 17 September - 18 September 2015
Room Rate: RM296 for a room with queen size bed and a single bed attached with private bathroom

#8: Since there's kitchen within our room, we decided to cook our own dinner. To save cost as possible as we can
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New Zealand Day 5: Hobbiton Movie Set

 << Previous Post: Day 4 - Paihia & Russell <<

It's the day we have been anticipated for and we're overly excited for it. If you are a movie fan of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, I bet this place will definitely included in your travel itinerary and you shouldn't miss it at all cost. No introduction needed for this place cause once one mentioned about New Zealand, instantly Hobbiton will be on their mind. 

#1: Hobbitton Movie Set

What and Where is Hobbiton?

Set in the heart of Waikato region, Hobbiton is a movie set used for shooting the world-renowned The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies which adapted from an epic high fantasy novel. Found by Sir Peter Jackson who is the movie director, this privately owned 1,250 acre family sheep farm caught his attention for its breathtaking rolling hills and lush green pastures where he concluded it's an ideal scene for "The Shire", as described by the novel author, JRR Tolkien.

Practically, there are two ways to reach Hobbiton:

1) By self-driving. If you are from Auckland, it takes approximately 2 hours drive to Matamata town. U can opt to stay in the nearest town such as Hamilton (like we did) or Rotorua which both take about 45 minutes drive. Don't worry about the parking when reach the site cause it's free. 

2) Coach transfer. If you don't feel comfortable with driving around New Zealand, you can book for coach transfer from Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton. 

#2: The departure time, departing on the place of departure

Guided Tour

Hobbiton doesn't open for walk-in visitors, hence you need to pre-book your ticket in advance via online. The time slots and places are pretty limited, so it's wise to book earlier to avoid disappointment. There are few tours available for the visitors but I found the regular tour which costs $89 for adult and $44 for youth (age between 9 to 16) is fairly sufficient for us to cover almost all the movie set we're looking forward for within 2 hours of tour. 

#3: Pre-book your ticket in advance via online. They don't accept walk-in customers. 

Because we booked the 10am guided tour, we left our sweet and cosy AirBnB in Hamilton as early as 8am cause the drive took roughly around 45 minutes to reach Hobbiton Movie Set. It's a wise choice to self-drive in New Zealand because the scenery along the drive is amazingly stunning and awe-inspiring. When we arrived at the destination, we parked our car nearby the general office. And in order to reach the movie set, we have to hop on to their tour bus which has been included in the fee. While inside the bus, some introductions through films were being played. If case you're wondering did I watch all the movies? The answer is, "No" for The Lord of The Rings but "Yes" to all the Hobbit trilogies. Maybe I should find some time to sit down and watch The Lord of The Rings. How about you guys?

Being me again, I think it's best to share more photos for you to justify how beautiful this place was...

#4: Rolling grassland of The Shire






#10: The only manmade tree in this movie set which made of steel and silicon

#11: Am I qualify to be part of The Hobbit? 

#12: The only Hobbit holes where visitors are allowed to go in


#14: The Home of Bilbo Baggins, the main character

#15: The Green Dragon Pub where visitors get claim a complimentary drink from 

This place is so real, and surreal too. I just can't believe that what I had watched and seen on a big movie-screen and now, they are standing right in front of me. Everything looks exactly like the one in the movies - except for the size of the Hobbit homes which tend to be slightly bigger than the movies. This movie set totally exceeded our expectations, especially the hobbit holes where they are so detailed and fascinating. Not forgetting too the colourful bright round doors with the picturesque and charming garden that never fail to amaze the visitors. 

The one and only downside is - because it's a guided tour and you unable to visit on your own, do expect a big group of people during the tour. So taking photos might be challenging here, and sometimes you need to take it quick and fast as possible as you can. I'm not sure how much does the private tour cost but we felt that the regular tour is sufficiently worth more than that. It aint' cheap though!

Overall, my friends and I do enjoy walking through the enchanting village of Hobbiton. Even if you have never watch any of these movies, you will still find this so-called Middle Earth tour to be interesting and amusing. Definitely one of the top tourist spots you shouldn't miss in New Zealand. 

You can book your ticket from here.
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