Day 35. Waitomo Glow-worm Caves….Long-suffering practically bouncing off the walls with excitement as we joined our group for this excursion into dark caves. The muse…her normal can-do attitude had gone into hiding at the thought of confined dark spaces.
Apart from my acute discomfort – Pilates breathing helped – it really was a magical experience. Amazing to see these tiny larvae – glow worms grow into Fungus gnats – light up the caves. Fine sticky threads hung eerily web like from the roof, catching insects flying up from the water below. Stalactites and stalagmites some had met and now formed one mass from roof to floor. A boat transported us a short distance, our guide manoeuvring by way of ropes pulling us through caves and out into the light and fresh air….Not a moment too soon for the muse. The man behind the lens was finally allowed to take a snapshot – no photography inside the caves so as not to upset the glow worms dark environment.
Hobbiton. We were not sure what to expect of our two hour booked tour – the only way you can explore the permanent set.
Theme park, heavily commercialised came to mind. Thankfully it was none of these and although a very busy tourist attraction, the regular, timed group tours rarely overlapped on the route through the set – we had been told it was difficult to get any photos without lots of people milling around in shot. Luckily the man behind the lens had no such trouble…
Hobbiton sits down in a beautiful valley of rolling green fields hidden from view except from above – how location scouts for Lord of the Rings originally found it. The original set was dismantled and taken away, but Director Peter Jackson in partnership with the Alexander family – who owned the land – retained the set of The Hobbit for all LOTR enthusiasts to enjoy including us and also many who have never even heard of the films!
A short bus ride to the location….We were not prepared for the beauty and size of the set that unfolded before us.
I cannot vouch for a winter tour but my goodness late spring was an explosion of colour, a sweet shop of pretty imaginative cottage plantings in front of the famous Hobbit abodes set into the domed hills.
We weaved our way along sandy paths, our guide Daniel gave a short informative and entertaining introduction to each stop along the route, after which there was plenty of photography opportunities giving the muse time to immerse herself in the abundant flora….
Not quite Hobbit sized!
Almost all the set is real and true to the writer JR Tolkien, with the exception of the apple and pear trees which should have been plum. Plum trees get too large for the small scale of Hobbiton. Fake plums were attached instead, for filming purposes.
Bilbo Baggins House…
The enormous tree on Bilbo Baggins house is in fact a brilliantly crafted fake, made of steel – you would never know!
The tour ended with a complimentary cider in The Green Dragon, looking out to the Mill House much to Long-sufferings delight!
Freedom Camp at Lake Maraetai…