Our one day in Auckland was rainy and overcast. After a visit to the Sky Tower where we looked at Auckland from above, we took a boat to Devonport, where we hiked to the top of mount Victoria and had some chocolate with kiwi from Devonport Chocolates.
Back in Auckland we explored the port area where we had an amazing meal at the fish market. It started pouring hard after lunch so we went back to the hotel to wait it out.
After the rain stopped somewhat we took the bus to Domain Wintergardens park, then Mt. Eden for what could’ve been a gorgeous view of the city at sunset. Unfortunately the rain started again and being on the highest point in the city, there was a good chance of a lightning strike, so we hurried back to the hotel.
The sun came out the next day! We rented a car and headed to Waitomo Glowworm Caves. We booked a black water rafting tour through one of the caves, but because of rain, the tour was cancelled So we went on a walking tour through the Ruakuri cave instead. As the tour guide said, it’s 80% formations and 20% glow worms. The cave was nice, but in our national park adventures we’ve seen so many caves that it’s hard to be impressed with just cave formations. There were not that many glow worms and it was extremely hard to take a picture without a tripod.
We had a light lunch at Huhu Cafe with a great view and tasty food.
We then headed to Hobbiton, which, surprisingly, was the highlight of the trip. What I thought will be cheesy and overly touristic proved to be good entertainment. The guides were excellent – good story tellers, energetic and funny. The Hobbiton village looked very realistic, with wooden, colorful doors and real trees and flowers. No Hollywood plaster type construction there. The majority of the visitors were hardcore movie and book fans, so I felt a little out of place, but it was all good fun.
One story told by the guides was how Peter Jackson did not like the apple trees that were planted on the set because, according to the books, they were supposed to be plum trees. So he ordered all the leaves and fruit to be removed and replaced with artificial plum leaves and fruit. All that money and effort for a 10 sec appearance in the movie!
After all the picture taking and walking around the village we headed to the Green Dragon Inn were everybody was given a drink followed by a family style feast. The food was surprisingly good and there was a LOT of it. The night walk through the village was fun as well.
Later that night we drove back to Auckland and took an early flight to Queenstown on the South Island. Coming up in the next post!