Hobbiton Tour, New Zealand: Review

11. Elf ears in HobbitonStepping onto the tour bus in Rotorua, I was somewhat skeptical as to what I would discover at Hobbiton. With a ticket costing more than $100, and as a huge Lord Of The Rings fan (my cats are christened Merry and Pippin), my expectations were high.

Now before I begin, I want to be very clear about what you cannot expect from Hobbiton:

  • You cannot step into Bag End and walk around Bilbo Baggins’ home. The inside of Bag End was created and filmed inside a movie studio in Wellington. This is because building a full-sized hobbit hole in the side of a hill, complete with room for filming and production crew, would have been a bit difficult.
  • There are no hobbits roaming around Hobbiton as they are fictional.

I say all of this because you will be amazed at how many people are astonished that Ian McCellan cannot fit into a hobbit hole and that there aren’t real-life actors walking around The Shire in full costume 24/7.

14. Yellow Hobbit Hole roses

4. Blue Hobbit House

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“Intercity Milford Sound Day Tour” Review + Is Milford Sound worth the visit?

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I initially planned on hitch-hiking to Milford Sound, but I eventually decided that I just wanted to sit quietly and enjoy the scenery, and so I opted for the Intercity Milford Sound day tour.

The bus section of my tour was well worth the money – it was easier and less stressful than hitch-hiking and I had a fantastic guide. I was less impressed by the cruise in terms of its value for money as both the information and the tour were relatively basic.

Milford Sound is one of the most talked about destinations in New Zealand, creating impossibly high expectations. But, broadly speaking, I enjoyed the tour and I would definitely recommend that you pay the sound a visit, especially if you’re at all interested in geology.

If you have a pretty decent budget and don’t have your own transport, taking a tour is the way to go.

(Note: Costs and overall ratings of the tour are listed at the bottom of this post)

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Byron Bay Nomads – Review

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Photo taken from Nomads Byron Bay website

Summary

Situated in the very centre of Byron Bay, this modern Nomads hostel sits right beside the well-priced supermarket, Aldi, and is only a five minute walk away from the beach. The hostel is clean and well-equipped, and even comes with hot tubs and hammocks. If you want to party and/or are looking to spend time with British backpackers, then this is the hostel for you. However, if you want to do more than drink and are looking for a more diverse experience, then Byron Bay Nomads may fail to meet your expectations.

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Getting fit in Byron Bay! (The free Byron Bay Fitness Trails Circuit)

1. Start trail

Tired of feeling sluggish and constrained by a classic backpacker budget, my boyfriend and I started looking on the internet for free activities in the Byron Bay area.

We stumbled across what is called the Byron Bay Fitness Trails Circuit – a series of fitness stations running along the bay starting from Captain Cooks car park and ending at iconic Cape Byron Headland. You can either walk in between the stations or jog – it’s up to you!

The only criticisms that I had of the circuit was that some of the information provided on the boards was not factually correct (for instance, the muscles targeted by each exercise) and the fact that it was not always clear as to where you were supposed to go next (my boyfriend and I ended up wondering through a holiday park for a while!).

However, we had a fun couple of hours doing pull ups, jogging and koala spotting! It’s also a great way to tie in seeing the lighthouse and the headland – plus, jogging up the hill to the lighthouse at the end is killer so it’s a perfect way to finish your workout!

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Cat Cafe Melbourne – A Review

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Having seen pictures of the original cat café in Japan and Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in London, I envisioned spending a relaxing hour sipping a cup of coffee at a small table surrounded by a dozen of my favourite feline friends.

The cat cafés already in existence are bizarre and incredible: cute chairs and coffee tablescats jumping onto every available surface while waitresses serve food and drink, and numerous spaces for people to enjoy a good book and a cup of coffee with a beautiful cat beside them.

Basically, it’s all about the weirdness of being in a café filled with cats, and it’s this gimmick that gets the tourists and the cat fanatics in.

Unfortunately, by branding themselves under this same legendary “cat café” label, Melbourne’s version fell a little short of expectations.

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