Since we were pressed for time in the North Island, we decided to do Hobbiton, Rotorua, and the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves in one day. The day lasted a full 13 hours from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with plenty of driving time (around six hours).
We took a tour from Flexitours New Zealand, where our guide Mike was very accommodating, friendly, and knowledgeable. The second tour guide of the day was a little cheeky, but we were just with him for Waitomo so it was fine.
First stop, the Hobbiton movie set. I’m not a fan (listen to the collective gasp of the Internet), but the set is beautiful and a nice place to take a walk. Plus, the tour includes a complimentary drink at The Green Dragon bar. Who could complain about that? Try to enjoy yours by the fire if it’s a gloomy day out, it tastes better that way.
The Te Puia geyser in Rotorua was my favorite stop for the day. The weather held out and was nice while we were there, so the walk was pleasant and there were plenty of signs so you could learn more about the history of the area. They also have a kiwi house, where you can see the famous (and adorable) New Zealand kiwi bird, and a cool gift shop where you can buy mud masks. I got some for my mom and sister, because I want to see them put mud on their faces.
Finally, our last stop was the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. No photos for this one since the bugs are sensitive to light, but the boat ride was lovely.