Matamata & Rotorua

An overnight trip to Rotorua kicked off our friends’ visit. Eager to see the Lord of the Rings movie set, Hobbiton was the first stop on our road trip followed by lunch in Matamata. I never have luck dining in Matamata; next time I’ll stick with the KFC & McD’s options or hold out for the next town.

An hour later we arrived in Rotorua and our evening tour began. Bus driver and tour guide, Bill, picked us up in a coach identified as Waka Kiwi. As Waka Kiwi filled up Bill taught us a few word in Te Reo, the Maori language, and shared information on Maori history and customs during the 15-minute drive to the venue. During the ride we selected a chief who would represent our waka when we arrived at the village.

Upon arrival there was a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony complete with dancing, intimidating facial expressions and a haka. The locals decided we’d come in peace and welcomed us into their village. We were invited to participate in a variety of traditional arts and crafts. Once everyone rotated through the six interactive stations we walked  a short distance to the hangi, an underground oven, and watched as our dinner was extracted. While the final dinner preparations were made the guests went into the marae for a song and dance show including Ka Mate, the haka famously performed by the All Blacks before their rugby games.

The evening ended with a satisfying feast of fish, lamb, chicken, salad, kumara, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, rice and gravy. A buffet of steam pudding and custard and pavlova rounded out a fun night.

Dates: 9-10 August 2015
Travel with: Allen & the Hooks
Weather: 40-50s, drizzly early on Sunday
Accommodation: private room at YHA Rotorua

  • Hobbiton- I enjoyed the welcome village, cafe and gift shop while the others took the tour;
  • Mitai Maori Village: hangi & cultural experience. (!!)


  • Hobbiton cafe;
  • Redoubt bar & eatery, Matamata.

Transportation: rental car for the trip down and naked bus on the way back.