First Light Marathon

25 Jan 2025

Hobbiton & Bay of Plenty

Explore the magical Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings, get lost in Hamilton Gardens and relax at Bay of Plenty.
20-23 Jan | 4 days | 1 990 NZD

Pre tour: Overland from Auckland to Gisborne. 

  • Day 1 - 20. Jan: Welcome to Auckland. City Tour

    Welcome to Auckland!  All participants will arrive in Auckland and find their own way to their hotel for the night at Grand Millenium, Auckland. With its approximately 1.3 million inhabitants, Auckland is home to almost a third of New Zealand's population. The city is located on a narrow landmark with water on both sides - the Pacific Ocean to the East and the Tasman Sea to the west - and is thus a true mecca for sailors. The city is affectionately known as the ‘City of Sails’ due to Aucklander’s love of sailing and other water sports.  Auckland is built on 50 extinct volcanoes; and while most of them are miniature in size, as green hilltops or even completely invisible, the three largest - Mount Albert, Mount Eden, and One Tree Hill - reign over the landscape.

    We will explore the exciting city of Auckland through a bus tour, starting from the hotel at 2pm. The route will take us through the cozy suburbs of Parnell, with old, well-restored houses as well as small restaurants and galleries. We will visit the renowned Bastion Point for panoramic views of the city and the sparkling Hauraki Gulf.  After we return to the hotel the rest of the evening is at leisure for you to explore the wonders of Auckland further on your own.

    No meals

  • Day 2 - 21. Jan: Hamilton Gardens and The Hobbiton.

    After breakfast it's time to leave Auckland and travel over the Bombay Hills, where market gardens supply locals as well as export markets. Subsequently, we will continue along the east bank of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, which runs through the cities of Hamilton, Cambridge and Ngāruawāhia.

    In Hamilton we will visit the internationally recognised award-winning Hamilton Gardens for a self-guided tour through these stunning gardens.  The unique theme of Hamilton Gardens is ‘The story of gardens’ which is explored through a series of five garden collections. The Paradise Garden Collection is a highlight of the gardens and features a Chinese Scholars Garden, English Flower Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, American Modernist Garden, Italian Renaissance Garden, and an Indian Char Bagh Garden.  Alternatively, you might be intrigued by one of the Fantasy Gardens – the Tudor Garden; Tropical Garden; Concept Garden or the Mansfield Garden. Try not get lost in the many gardens because you don't want to miss out the next highlight of the tour - Hobbiton.

    Now it's time to visit Middle-earth and the many adventures that await us therein. Our explorations lead us to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire  that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The journey begins with a guided tour as we traverse the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. We will exit the car allowing the guide to escort you through the ten acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be easily observed and it's possible to see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Upon completion of your tour, we will enjoy a complimentary beverage at the Green Dragon Inn.

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 3 - 22. Jan: Bay of Plenty - Scenic Cruise & enjoy the Mount

    After breakfast  we depart Hamilton over the Kaimai ranges into the picturesque Bay of Plenty. Upon arrival, we will visit the town of Mt Maunganui, often refered to as The Mount by locals. The Mount is a laid back suburb set on a peninsula surrounded by spectacular white sand beaches suitable for both swimming and surfing. Perhaps most iconic is the mountain Mount Maunganui, or Mauao, which rises 232 meters from the sea. The walking tracks to the top of this extinct volcano provide 360 degree views which span the entire length of the Bay of Plenty. We start our visit with a scenic cruise around the area and enjoy its diverse topography; its untouched white sandy beaches, lush green forests, islands and small village settlements, contrasted with the highly developed port infrastructure. Occasionally you may see some seasonal wildlife on your cruise such as blue penguins, sea birds or New Zealandic fur seals. The afternoon is at leisure to spend at The Mount where you can relax on its glittering beaches, hike to the top of Mount Maunganui or go shopping in the many boutiques dotted along The Mount’s main street. We will overnight at Trinity Wharf in Tauranga.

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 4 - 23. Jan: Gisborne

    Following breakfast we will depart to Gisborne. The route takes us along the east coast of the North Island where we will pass through the small towns of Matata and Thornton before reaching Whakatane. Whakatane is the heart of the eastern Bay of Plenty, as it aligns with its spectacular coastal shore and contains a rich cultural history. Here we will have time to purchase lunch before departing through the Waioeka Gorge. As we arrive into the sunny township of Gisborne we will check into our chosen accommodation.   

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Price Information

    Shared double room:  NZD 1990  
    Single room supplement:  NZD +490

  • Inclusions
    • Meals as stated in the itinerary 
    • Transportation as stated in the itinerary 
    • 3 nights accommodation including breakfast 
    • City Tour in Auckland
    • Visit to Hamilton Gardens
    • Hobbiton Tour
    • Scenic Cruise Mt. Maunganui
    • Albatros tourleader
  • Exclusions
    • Personal expenses or gratuities 
    • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary 
    • Beverages
    • Health/travel insurance 
    • Anything else not mentioned under "Inclusions"