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While David and I aren’t HUGE Lord of the Rings fans, it’s hard to visit New Zealand without stopping for at least one iconic LOTR tour. And we are so glad we did – both the Weta Studios and Hobbiton were amazing!
I’ve mentioned them several times in the blog as they do the exhibits for the Te Papa museum and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum. They have the Weta Cave, which is a gift shop and 25-minute introductory movie (both free), and then they do the workshop tours.
We did the tour, which was REALLY amazing. We don’t have any photos to share (IP rights don’t permit photography on the tour), but we saw tons of props from their movies (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, King Kong, District 9, etc). Our guide was really really knowledgable (he’s actually a contractor in the paint department) about all kinds of stuff, and gave us plenty of interesting tidbits – for example, Viggo Mortensen was the only actor in Lord of the Rings to use a real sword and the chain mail in the movies is plastic rings made in China and hand-assembled in the studio.
Driving up the North Island
Monday the 13th was our longest day driving in our entire 5-week road trip, with about 5 hours from Wellington to Oruanui. Once again, we had planned on camping but the wind and rain changed our minds, and we booked an Airbnb last minute. This one was also on a farm (sheep and cows) but also a clay target shooting range, named Clay Break. The range is just off their back porch, with bar tables and a keg, it’s a pretty awesome stag night idea.
The next morning we got up and started our drive to Matamata. We stopped at a beautiful and short walk to the Blue Springs.
Evening Banquet Dinner at Hobbiton
Making our way into Matamata we checked into our Airbnb and then took off for Hobbiton, the Shire set from the Lord of the Rings movies (all 6 of them). We had booked an Evening Banquet Dinner, which included a tour of the site and a full family-style dinner. I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves; it was magical!
I will say though, the Shire gets a lot more screen time in the Hobbit trilogy than the LOTR trilogy. I hadn’t seen any of the Hobbit movies, so that’s on our list to watch!