It was a day filled with fantasy, folklore and legend. Just over an hour drive through the beautiful, green countryside brought us to the Alexander sheep farm, home of Hobbiton. We registered at the desk and waited for our bus to take us out to the former movie set. Our guide was a young lady from Calgary, Alberta and she confided to us that it was only her second week at work. Vanessa did a great job with the tour and I know that she will have a great summer ahead of her as she is quite passionate about all things Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. As the bus pulled into the movie set, music and clips from the movies were playing. It may sound quite silly but it really did get the blood stirring.
We wandered through the set of hobbit holes, gardens, clotheslines and ponds all with Vanessa’s commentary as to what scene occurred at each spot. She mentioned Peter Jackson’s attention to detail, right down to the leaves on the trees and the moss on the fences. We stopped at Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins (Kim, though we did not see Bilbo in the flesh, his spirit was definitely there). We wandered across the bridge to have a beer at the Green Dragon and have conversation with some new friends from Brazil. All too soon the tour was over and we had to leave the land where fantasies come true in order to return to real life and the next adventure.
So, off to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, about another hour and a half east of Hobbiton. GPS lady got us lost on the Motorway as she does not recognize that they exist. Once off the motorway, we found our way back to the correct route and carried on as if nothing had happened. We weren’t sure what to expect with the caves. Was it all a bunch of hype? Again, we were not disappointed. Our Maori tour guide was awesome, telling us of the legends of the caves, the history of their discovery and why the glowworms choose the caves. The glowworm is the larvae stage in the life cycle of a two-winged insect. The light of the glowworm is what attracts food and because the caves are dark and damp, it can be visible in order to attract the many insects that it will feed on. The caves also held other magic in the form of stalactites (from the ceiling) and stalagmites (from the ground). These are formed by the dripping of water and the deposit of limestone crystals which form concrete like surfaces. Over thousands of years, these tites and mites eventually meet and are then called Helicti. After, the initial walk through, we were ushered into a boat and told to remain completely silent. She then pushed the boat through a series of dark caves using only suspended ropes to guide her. The glowworms shone from the ceiling and the walls. The quiet of the caves made you feel reverent and thankful that you were a part of a world that is so absolutely amazing. The boat docked at the end of a tunnel and we walked back up to the tourist centre, forever changed by the magic of the caves.
Below is the home of the Grouchy or mean looking Hobbit.
Bilbo Baggins Home:
The bridge going to the Green Dragon:
The entrance to the green dragon:
Having Hobbit Beer in the Green Dragon:
Exiting the Green Dragon:
One last picture outside of the Green Dragon at the end of our tour.
Our tour guide who was from Calgary Alberta. Kind of cool.
A couple pics from the Glowworm Caves. We were not allowed to take pictures in the caves: