By Ben |

Weds, June 26

We checked out of the hotel and took another Uber to the Jucy campervan rental where I had reserved a van for the remainder of our time in NZ, thinking that we would see the countryside before returning to Auckland. We each took a turn driving on our way to the Hobbiton movie set. We had a very nice tour and took lots of photos

When the set was initially built for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was just façades propped up on the hillsides, and some of them were burned down to film the prophecy scene, and all of them were removed after filming. But fans discovered the location and pestered the farmers so much that when the crew returned to film the Hobbit trilogy, they asked that the set be made permanent so that tourists would have something to see. So now it is the largest permanent movie set in the world, complete with the busiest pub in all of New Zealand. Most of the hobbit holes are still just façades, but last spring (November) two interiors were built at human scale so that tourists can walk through.

Then we drove to Rotorua, where the "thermal holiday park" promised a hot soak. It was not as hot as some hot tubs, but we got nicely warmed up before facing the night in the camper. The camper turned out to be quite drafty, especially by the side door, so we needed another soak in the morning!