Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo Holidays

In this trio of North Island areas, you’ll find thermal pools with lakeside views, caverns lit by insects and a very special film set.

When it comes to visitor hotspots, there are few literally hotter than Rotorua, which seethes, steams and bubbles with geothermal activity. In and around this lakeside city set in the remains of an ancient caldera, you can wallow in mineral mud pools and thermal baths, feel the ground shake as a geyser erupts towards the sky and feast on dishes cooked by natural volcanic heat. The local Te Awara people have coexisted with their unpredictable surroundings for centuries; walk through a Māori village with a local guide or learn the meaning and the moves of the haka and so much more at a cultural centre with authenticity at its core.

West of Rotorua, two very different sites – one a masterpiece of nature, the other very much the creation of people – vie for attention. At Waitomo, the magic is below your feet: a network of impressive limestone caves carved out by underground rivers, each with its own unique attraction, from glowworm-lit boat trips to multicoloured rock formations and crystal tapestries. In Hobbiton, you’ll find yourself plunged into the fictional world of Middle Earth; the iconic 12-acre set where The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies were filmed is now a fascinating and immersive visitor attraction.

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Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo

Millennium Rotorua

Superb location in the heart of Rotorua

Peppers on the Point

A luxury lodge with magnificent lake views

Regent of Rotorua

A captivating city hideaway with a superb restaurant and in a great spot near Rotorua lakefront.

Solitaire Lodge

Tranquillity and stunning natural beauty await at this romantic luxury lodge overlooking Lake Tar...

Art Deco Walking Tour of Napier

Learn about Napier’s fascinating heritage during this guided walking tour of the city’s colourful Art Deco Quarter. Depart from Napier’s Art Deco Centre and discover striking examples of the city’s distinctive architecture. Hear stories of the 1931 earthquake that destroyed the city, the people that were affected, and how the city made a remarkable recovery and was rebuilt within two years. The walk is followed by an optional short film screening.

• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Best of Hawke's Bay from Napier

Depart from Napier for this private guided tour of Hawke’s Bay which can be customised to suit your interests. Admire Napier's diverse collection of art deco buildings and visit local artists to view their paintings and sculptures. Meet innovative food producers and enjoy tastings of locally grown delicacies. Visit a rural coastal settlement to expeience a traditional welcome and learn about Maori culture and heritage before enjoying tastings at some prestigious wineries.

• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

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Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Depart from Rotorua for Matamata, home to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Drive through a working sheep farm to the Shire’s rest where you will join a tour of the famous film set. Learn how the set was created as you discover hobbit holes, the Mill and double arch bridge and the party tree. You can also have your picture taken by Bilbo’s front door at Bag End. Finish your tour with a tasty lunch in the Party Marquee and take in the view across the lake to the mill and Bag End.

• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Get to know Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)

CURRENCY

New Zealand dollar

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

25½ hours (not including stopover time)

RELIGION

New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian

LANGUAGE

Māori and English

Where are Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo?
Rotorua is in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty region and lies at the southern end of the lake with which it shares its name. It is 40 miles south of Tauranga on the coast – the area’s main city and New Zealand’s fifth largest. It has a small airport, with connections to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, which is handy if your time is limited. Hobbiton is roughly halfway between Rotorua and Hamilton to the north west; the driving time is around 60 minutes. The journey to Waitomo, west of Rotorua is longer again – just under two hours by road.

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City vibes
Rotorua has been a popular resort since the 19th century, a fact reflected in its buildings, which include a Mock Tudor former bathhouse, now home to the Rotorua Museum, and the Spanish Mission-style Blue Baths dating from the 1930s. Take a stroll through the Government Gardens, which include croquet lawns and a bandstand, or take to the water on a stand-up paddleboard for a different perspective. As well as ubiquitous hot springs – there are even free footbaths in Kuirau Park – Rotorua also has a lively food scene. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a meal cooked in a steam box powered by natural geothermal steam or in a hāngī, a traditional Māori underground oven.

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Geothermals & wellness
Don’t be alarmed if you detect a hint of sulphur when you first arrive here. Navigating its volcanic valleys, billowing clouds of steam and multicoloured lakes will have you feeling like you’ve stepped foot on an extra-terrestrial film set. The orange-hemmed Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu is one of the main draws of Rotorua, so definitely pay this a visit. Other impressive sights include the Pohutu Geyser, which explodes 30 metres into the air; you’ll find it among the seething mud pools in Whakarewarewa Reserve on the city’s southern fringes. For a scenic soak, Kerosene Creek has naturally heated pools beside a waterfall, with lush forest all around; or take your pick of one of the city’s many stylish thermal spa resorts.

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Māori culture
Rotorua is one of the country’s best places to dive into the rich culture of the island’s indigenous Māori people. Beside the lake, the village of Ōhinemutu is still home to families whose ancestors arrived here centuries before the arrival of the first European settlers; we recommend visiting with a guide who will show you things you’d miss by yourself, from soda pools to the meaning of particular carvings. There’s more to experience at Te Puia in the wonder-filled Whakarewarewa Valley. There are daytime and starlit walks through the geothermal areas and native bushland, complemented by a range of performances – traditional ceremonies, dances and the like – along with bone carving and flax weaving demonstrations.

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Hobbit holes
A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Hobbiton, the superb 12-acre site near Matamata which was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Book a private tour to experience sites including The Hobbit Holes, Green Dragon™ Inn, Mill and other structures, as a local guide explains the fascinating history behind this now iconic film set.

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Dec - Apr

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