Hobbiton, Rotorua Canopy Tour, and Redwoods tree walk
After picking up a rental car from Auckland airport, we headed towards Rotorua. We had to go back to the airport for a rental car as we left booking a little too late and there weren’t any left downtown. 😅
Our first stop was the Hobbiton movie set. We booked a tour for 1:40pm. We drove from Auckland to Hamilton, a town on the way, and since we had a bit of time, we sat in a cafe having coffee and just chilling out. It was raining and we hoped it would not be raining too much on the tour. After the flight delays and the floods, it’s safe to say that we weren’t feeling too hopeful but were trying to make the most of it.
We stopped and spent about twenty minutes at the Hamilton Botanic Garden. Entry is free, but you could definitely spend a lot more time there. We decided to jump back in the car and continue the 45 minutes to Hobbiton and planned to eat lunch there since it wasn’t quite time to eat lunch yet.
It didn’t rain while we were exploring the garden—in fact, it was quite sunny—but it rained on the road. Things had looked gloomy on the way out of Auckland, but the further we got, the lighter the rain got. They offer umbrellas at Hobbiton and the tours go ahead even if it’s raining, but I have no doubt it would have looked more beautiful if it was sunny.
We enjoyed the tour, learning bits and bobs about the filming of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and got a complimentary drink at the end. I’d say the tour was pretty well paced and enjoyable even if you aren’t a big fan of the films or franchise. Hobbiton is a pretty place!
Nick and I felt a bit silly about how he was holding the staff in this photo, but oh well. Hahaha. It rained a bit during our tour but wasn’t bothersome. An umbrella did the job.
Rotorua is a pretty small town, and when we arrived at 5:00pm it was super quiet and most shops were closed downtown. In the evening we walked to “Eat Streat” and tried to have a look at the lake but it was very windy!
We ate at a restaurant called Atticus Finch, named after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird. They had good food. We had a bit of a chuckle at the waiter saying “everything on the menu is designed for sharing” because he said it so many times. 👀
The following day, we woke up early to get ready for our adventure with Rotorua Canopy Tours. It was one of our first adventure activities of the trip and we were looking forward to it but hoping it wouldn’t rain too much. It would be going ahead rain or shine, though—it’s in a rainforest! I think that was a positive thing about the rain on our trip: it didn’t really impact the activities we had booked and planned well in advance, so we didn’t have to worry about rescheduling or organising refunds.
It wasn’t much of a hassle but the rain must have been so bad because we got a leak in our hotel ceiling. They had a plumber on site so we went about our day and after we returned, there was water on the floor but nothing was leaking anymore.
It just so happened to be a public holiday that day, so our hotel suggested a cafe that would actually be open for breakfast. We ate there before heading for our canopy tour.
While we waited for our tour to start, we were told that the rest of the group had decided to go on a different tour, so they offered us to do the Ultimate tour instead of the Original, but we decided to stick with the original. We ended up being the only two people on that particular tour but it was still fun and I think we liked how it felt more intimate. Our two instructors Steph and Kiera were good company, very friendly and funny.
The tour includes a ride to and from the rainforest, which takes about twenty minutes, and some rainforest walks, and several ziplines of varying heights and lengths. It was a lot of fun. I hadn’t done anything like that since I was a kid at school camp, I think, and even then it was probably not at this scale. It was incredible ziplining through the rainforest and getting amazing views of the greenery while going for a ride. We felt very safe and the heights didn’t bother us at all (Nick is occasionally not so good with heights). I would definitely do the Ultimate tour if I find myself in Rotorua again.
We finished the tour at around 12:30pm and decided to head straight for the Redwoods Tree Walk, a walk on suspension bridges and platforms through redwood trees. The Californian redwoods were planted in Rotorua in 1901 so these trees are over a hundred years old. The walk was lovely and peaceful, if not a little vertigo-inducing because of the many bridges. You can take your time and also walk around the forest floor outside of the walk—I dare say we sped through it a little.
It’s very nice but I think the $37NZD wasn’t exactly worth it; the price felt a bit steep. You can, however, also experience the Redwoods Tree Walk at night, where they have specially made lanterns and you can see the forest light up. I’ve read that many people recommend that if you have the chance and if you can make your way there “after dark”! They also have ziplining there, although we went with Rotorua Canopy Tours because they had a satisfaction guarantee and more positive reviews in comparison.
For lunch we ate at a local Korean fried chicken spot, then went back to our hotel to rest. We spontaneously decided to look for a place that had hot tubs to relax in. We found a place called Secret Spot that had a free spot in an hours’ time, so ended up doing that. It was just a little bit warm outside, so being in a hot tub made us just a little bit too hot. 😂 The session was limited to 45 minutes, which—as the company suggested—was the perfect amount of time to relax, not too short and not too long.
We enjoyed our activities in Rotorua. I think that if I were to return, I would consider the Ultimate Canopy Tour, and see what else the town has to offer in terms of walks and exploring around the forest and surrounding areas.
Stay tuned for our next adventure!