The Bay of Plenty was so named by the British explorer Captain Cook in the 1700’s because of its rich soil and temperate climate making it the centre of New Zealand’s Kiwi Fruit industry. Also it encompasses some of the finest beaches for swimming and surfing. View the panorama from the top of Mount Maunganui or take a flight out to New Zealand’s only active volcano – White Island.


We drive over the Mamaku Ranges to the Alexander Farm just outside Matamata. There we discover the real Middle- Earth , which Peter Jackson , the director , thought it the perfect location for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Here you will have a fascinating 2 hour guided tour learning how this farmland was transformed into The Shire. You will see the Hobbit Holes , the Green Dragon Inn , The Mill and many other of the movie structures. There is an excellent shop and cafe on site where you can obtain souvenirs to cement your memories of the tour. From there we drive across the Waikoto to the Waitomo Caves to visit the underground wonderlands created millions of years ago. You will enjoy a guided tour through the long galleries and lofty chambers of the Glow worm Caves and continue on with a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto, illuminated by thousands of tiny lights from the glow worms suspended from the cave ceiling. Then a short 5 minute drive takes us to the amazing Aranui Caves, discovered by accident nearly 100 years ago. Here you have a short climb through the bush and enter the wondrous grottos of the Aranui Caves with their enormous and colourful stalagmites and stalactites reaching deep under the hillside Then we return to our departure point reflecting on the highlights of the day.