Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo holiday highlights

Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist spots and the capital of Maori culture. You may notice a faint smell of sulphur as you enter the city; it’s home to geothermal parks bursting with clouds of steam, bubbling pools of mud, sulphurous crater lakes of vibrant greens and orange and powerful geysers erupting 20 metres into the air – in Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley you’ll find Pohutu Geyser, which means “big splash" or "explosion".

You’ll also be able to discover the fascinating traditions and proud culture of the Maori people. Enjoy authentic songs, take a historical tour of living Maori villages or zoom down Lake Rotorua in an amazing carved canoe.

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.

Waitomo is a village whose name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). It has rolling green hills that house a superb underground secret – a maze of caves, sinkhole and underground rivers. Take a boat ride through the Waitomo Caves for a unique experience as your surroundings light up with the flicker of thousands of luminescent glow-worms.

There’s also Otorohanga Kiwi House northeast of Waitomo, which shelters several species of the rare native kiwi bird and is worth a visit during your time here.

Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo key facts

Time difference

GMT +12 hours (GMT +13 hours from the last week in March to the first week in October)

Currency

New Zealand Dollar (NZ$) comprising of 100 cents.

Flying time to destination

Auckland: 23 hours

Language

English. Maori is also spoken but is not widely used.

Passport & visas

Visas are not required for UK passport holders.

Voltage & electricity

230 volt AC. Three round pin plugs are used, therefore an adapter is required.

Rotorua, Hobbiton & Waitomo good to know

Tipping

Tipping is a matter of choice. For excellent service, a discretionary tip of 10% may be given.

History

The history of New Zealand dates back to approx. 1250 AD. It was discovered by Polynesians, who settled and developed a distinct Maori culture centred on kinship links and land. New Zealand is often referred to as the 'youngest country', as it was one of the last major landmasses to be inhabited, and has a fascinating mix of Maori and European heritage.