On the eastern coast of the north island of New Zealand lies Tauranga. A working port, it is also the gateway to Rotorua and Matamata.
Last year on this cruise we opted to do the Wai-o-Tapu and Rainbow Springs tour. Often costing about $150 per person, one of the advantages of booking a ship-organised tour is that if there are any delays, they will hold the ship until your arrival. However, if you go off on your own and get held up, there are no guarantees that the ship will still be there, in which case you would have to make your way to the next port under your own steam.
For something different, or more so ironic, this tour included a buffet lunch aboard the Lakeland Queen before heading down to Rainbow Springs.
This year’s tour was to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, an hour’s coach drive from the port of Tauranga. We tend to only book one tour per cruise; partly from a monetary point of view, and also because then that one excursion seems more special.
There is a guide who provides a running commentary as you wend your way through the adorable hobbit holes. Attention to detail is obvious and enchanting. Let the pictures speak for themselves. For those observant people, look closely at what I am wearing: same colours, but different items of clothing!