So I just got back from Auckland, Matamata, and Rotorua in New Zealand’s North Island, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the two places that appear regularly on travel influencers’ instagrams.
- The Hobbitton Movie SetHow to get there: Take a bus from Auckland to Matamata I-Site and sign up for the Hobbitton tour. From there, a tour bus will pick you up to the movie set.
Entrance Fee: NZD 79 (including bus to the set and guided tour)
First of all, let’s talk about the I-Site (a.k.a information center). This building was deliberately built as a hobbit hole! Apart from signing up for the Hobbitton tour, you can also get information on other places in NZ. You can also leave your bags in the designated space which costs 5 NZD.
The movie set itself is located about 20 minutes away from Matamata I-Site. Now let me be honest and say, it wasn’t as “fantastic” as I thought it would be. I’m pretty sure the fact that I haven’t seen any of the LOTR/Hobbitton movies made the place feel “foreign” to me, as in I didn’t feel any connection to the place as the movie fans would.
That being said, if you do have the time and money to got there, why not? It definitely is a green, beautiful place filled with cute “houses”. Plus, by joining the tour you will be able to hear interesting behind-the-scenes stories.
- Te PuiaHow to get there: Take a bus from Auckland to Rotorua I-Site, and then take Bus #30 to Hemo Road. Wait in the same bus stop when going back to the I-Site.
Entrance Fee: NZD 54 (day pass, including guided tour)
There are two main attractions in Te Puia: the Maori culture and Pohutu Geyser, which is apparently the biggest geyser in Southern Hemisphere. It reminds me a lot of Beppu and its famous Jigoku Meguri.
By adding NZD 15 you can experience the Maori cultural performance (check the timetable first though, because it’s only performed 3 times per day). To me, this is the best part of my visit. There’s just something magical about the Haka (Maori traditional war dance) that will make you feel both threatened and entertained.
You can also visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where students from all over NZ learn how to preserve Maori tradition with the help of modern technology. The students receive scholarships from the entrance fee to Te Puia.