Departing Tauranga city, you will travel for about 1 hour to the thermal region of Whakarewarewa. Here, you will see a Maori village. This living village is situated amidst a landscape of erupting geothermal activity, hot thermal springs, and bubbling mud pools. It is also the location of the famous Pohutu Geyser. Here you will mingle with the local Maori folk who have made this village their home and learned to live in harmony with this unique geothermal environment.
You will experience their traditions and their culture which has been passed down from generation to generation, and visit the fully carved meeting house "Whare Tupuna"(ancestral home). Experience a traditional Maori performance that will include a cultural welcome, songs and dances, games, and demonstrations of fighting skills, including the famous Haka. This is a concert not to be missed!
Then it is time to say farewell "E Noho Ra" to these local friends and head to the Waikato Valley. Here, you will find the Hobbiton Movie Set, nestled deep in the rolling hills of this region. One of the features of this area is the natural, unblemished landscape which was a necessary requirement for this Lord of the Rings movie film set.
You will be met by one of the resident guides who will walk with you around the set with a very informative commentary. Take the opportunity to dress up a character from Lord of the Rings with costumes provided by your guide, and have your picture taken on the movie set. On your tour of Hobbiton, you will see the Party field, stand under the Party tree, and observe the Hobbit holes, the lake, the mill and the bridge. At the conclusion of your journey around the set you can venture into the newly opened Green Dragon Inn and enjoy a complimentary beer, cider, or ginger beer.
Then its tome to depart the shire and travel back over the Kaimai ranges to your ship. If time permits on route, you will drive along the Marine Parade of Mount Maunganui seaside resort.
Reviewer: Kevin Culhane
This was the first of several shore excursions we purchased through Shore Excursion Group for our cruise of New Zealand the French Polynesia Islands and it was the best! The cruise ship we were on didn't even offer the Hobbiton Movie Set as a shore excursion. The Thermal Wonderland was so amazing --- Old Faithful in New Zealand plus a bonus if it is a cold day (won't give away the secret). An amazing lunch served family style and the art & culture center added to this great stop. The drive from the Thermal Wonderland to Hobbiton Movie Set was so beautiful. Learned about the history of the area and the kiwi fruit. The Hobbiton movie set tour was so much fun (especially if you have some Lord of the Rings fanatics in your group which we did) and you even get to drink at the Green Dragon Pub -- fun for all ages. Overall a great day, our tour guide Grant was terrific and we made some new friends from the ship being in the small group (8 of us).
Reviewer: George Helfrich
Reviewer: Meredith Schmahl
Grant was a fabulous tour guide. . . he helped us get the most out of a wonderful full day of touring - This is one of the BEST tours I have ever taken. the Rotorua Thermal, the Maori folk presentation, the lunch, the Hobbiton tour - it was Magical!!! Grant was informative, patient, and engaging, which was the icing on the cake!
On arrival at port we were confused as to where our driver/ group was as no one of the people with cards had our names we looked for Shore excursions but there was another company with this name not ours! The chap checked with another couple of people then found we were with Zealander tours we had not been given that information! Morning was to thermal wonderland amazing & interesting & enjoyable. But rather rushed. Maori experience excellent but initial talk or greeting ruined as we couldn't hear or see what was going on! We really enjoyed these 2 attractions great lunch included at Hobbiton,brilliant set & great guide with lots of info. The
Reviewer: Paulino Corsino
Three excursions into one. Nobody else, including the cruise line, had this option. The best excursion we went in during our 14 days Australian and New Zealand cruise. In the Green Dragon's bar they gave us wine, which we drank by the fire place, and the tour guides had Lord of the Rings costumes which we put in and took pictures with it. The hot Lunch buffet was excellent. Amazing geysers and the mud pools were incredible. This tour was the highlight of our vacation. We loved it!