The reason that Melinda is so familiar with New Zealand is that her son married a New Zealander and lived here for many years. Two of her grandchildren were born here and she spent months at a time visiting. Her son and grandkids are back in the states, but Melinda still keeps in touch with her daughter-in-laws family living in Cambridge, New Zealand - just down the road from Matamata and Hobbiton.
We parked in their driveway and had a lovely dinner of fresh vegetables from their garden and lamb chops from their sheep. The next morning we all went out to breakfast including their other daughter, Hope, and her 2 kids. I had the "Smashed Avo" - it's toast from wonderful homemade 7 grain bread with a generous serving of avocado, a poached egg, feta cheese, pickled onions, pine nuts and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The Red Cherry Cafe.
This was the best breakfast I have ever had!
During the conversation we mentioned how we were shut out from visiting Hobbiton and Hope said, y'know they always have cancellations. Let's call and check - so she did. After speaking to the person on the other end she asked: "Do you want to go on the tour at 12:30 or at 1?" Wow.