Just 2 minutes from the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, in the North Island of New Zealand lies Woodlyn Park.
One of the Top 10 Most Unique Tourism Accommodation in the World. Home of the Kiwi Culture Show and Billy Black Woolman.
Woodlyn Park has 10 motel units
* 2 Hobbit Units
* The Waitanic Ship with 5 suites
* The Bristol Freightor plane with 2 units
* The Waitanic Express Train
The motels are world unique, built in part from recycled and natural materials. They have in the past worked hard as a war plane, a navy patrol boat and a carriage from the steam train era. As such they have a slightyly lingering aroma from their industrial past, much like a modern vehicle - their scent reflects the materials they are made of.
A couple of years ago I read an article about Woodlyn Park and I set the intention of staying in the Hobbit house before taking the family to Hobbiton. We ended up visiting Hobbiton earlier this year so I put this place on the backburner hoping an opportunity would arise where we could stay here. I was very lucky and was chosen by KIWIreviews to review Disney on Ice in Hamilton and thought this would be the perfect place to stay as could also do the caves and waterfall.
I pulled up Woodlyn Park's website and other sites to read the reviews. Most were very favourable and the only complaints seemed to be the smell, the heat in summer and that it was run down in need of TLC. I told my husband and he said 'it's one night, we are hardly going to be there - so how bad could it be'. After making the decision to stay the biggest problem was deciding on what room type. We all wanted something different. My youngest wanted the train, my eldest wanted Titanic, whereas I still wanted the Hobbit House. Hubby was not fussed so jumped back on the site and pulled up the pictures and reviews. The most favourable ones seemed to be for the plane and figured when else are we going to get the opportunity to sleep up in the stars in a cockpit? So we booked the night online.
Driving up from New Plymouth, it was easy to find. It's right in the heart of Waitomo, around the corner from the Village centre. There is a signpost pointing it out and even before you get near it you can see the Ship followed by the Plane and then the Hobbit windows. You don't, however, see the train unless you are coming from the other direction. It turned out it was to the left of the main office.
The reception area is clean and the staff was extremely helpful. I was asked what our plans were and told him we wanted to see the waterfall, bridge to nowhere and maybe a cave or two and he indicated everything on a map for us. Also pointed out eating places and said even though the GPS would tell us to take the road to Hamilton, don't as windy and would cause car sickness - great to know!
Driving towards the plane we passed the Waitanic and the Hobbit Houses. The plane looked huge and solid and upon entering we were faced with a small kitchen, a couch, a small bathroom and our bedroom. There was also the ladder that went straight up into the cockpit which was extremely cool and had parts that moved which ended up being hours of fun, and a double bed. We had a quick play then went for a walk to check out the rest of the venues and left for our hour trip to Hamilton.
We returned to the park just after 10pm and found the place was pitch black except for the outdoor light which thankfully was on. We put the a/c on which warmed the place up rather quickly and then tried to get the girls to bed while all they wanted to do was play. By the time I wrote my review on Disney on Ice it was close to midnight and found getting to sleep rather an issue. The bed was comfortable but found the bedding was rather light so had to keep the a/c on. While lying in bed every 5 minutes or so I would hear a noise like a gas element trying to light which made my mind wander thinking of a fire and then realised there was no safe way of escape. After 90 minutes of just lying there, I commented to my husband who told me it was a deodorising spray which made me relax some and get to sleep.
I had assumed we would sleep in since having a rather late night. Check out was not till 10am so imagine my surprise when I was awoken at 6.48am. I could hear turkeys outside but that was not what woke us it turned out we had neighbours in the tail and every time they walked around the whole plane vibrated - can only imagine what it is like in the wind. You could not hear them talking just moving. So that woke us all up and my husband and I lay in bed just listening to the girls fly to Japan, China, LAX and Christchurch. They were having so much fun. When we finally got up it was a mission to get them ready as all they wanted to do was play some more.
This place is awesome. It is so quirky and fun and offers endless possibilities - unfortunately, it is let down by the maintenance or rather lack of it. It looks like they may have painted recently as masking tape around the light fixtures and paint all over the windows but they have not done a good job. Instead of sanding, fixing broken panels or covering holes they have just painted over so the chipped paint really sticks out. If it was done properly it really would be something. The microwave is rusty and everything is really sad. I appreciate this plane was the last to fly out of Vietnam and is extremely old but there appears to be hardly any upkeep. Even one of the ladder rungs is loose and feels like it's about to come off.
My girls really want to stay here again and both want to stay in the Waitanic's Captain Quarters so they can be like Rose and Jack and scream out 'I'm on top of the world'. It is a very fun place to stay and is close to many tourist attractions. It is only a 3-star accommodation and it does show. I am still keen to sleep in the Hobbit hole so guess we will be returning. Great for family memories.
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