The first major part of my ‘there and back again’ journey started with a road trip with my mum around New Zealand and an early stop was at the delightful village of Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth. And there was you thinking it wasn’t a real place. This wasn’t on the original plan but as it had rained solidly for about 12 hours we decided to visit and see if we could have some tea with Bilbo and Frodo. (http://www.hobbitontours.com/)
I was first introduced to the Hobbit and LOTR (as those in the know call it !) as a child when my Dad brought home the books and toiled away at the tomes. He did really enjoy them and passed them to his curious daughter who also toiled away at the first opening chapter of the Hobbit ! I wasn’t so determined or patient then and quickly the book found itself back on the bookshelf for another day and there it stayed for a good few years.
Then along came the LOTR movies…………. and like so many others I was re-inspired and purchased a new set of the books with the goal of not watching the films until I had read them – an easy task you may think with 12 months in between each film ! Well to this day I have read the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring – but have the films on DVD !! Enough said.
Anyway, back to the wonderful world of Hobbiton.
When Peter Jackson embarked on his mammoth task of translating the iconic novels to the big screen he discovered the Alexander’s 1250 acre farm just outside of Matamata, North Island of New Zealand and the rest is movie folklore (or Elven lore perhaps ?). Originally everything on the set was temporary : artificial leaves from Taiwan and attached to trees with wire, the double -arched bridge leading to the Green Dragon was made from scaffolding, ply and polystyrene. At end of the filming everything was dismantled. When it came to the filming of the Hobbit trilogy, everything was rebuilt permanently and still remains, including a tree from silicon and steel – and you would never know !!!
The drive was straight forward to the site, even if the road signs were a little scarce and we booked ourselves onto the next available tour, boarded the bus and set off with our guide.
What a wonderful world awaited us ! There are around 40 Hobbit hole front doors built into various hillsides with such attention to detail : curtains at the windows, front gates, vegetables dug from the garden – all perfectly Hobbit sized.
I could go on and on about the beauty and the detail of the outdoor set, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Take a wander……..
One of the highlights was obviously the famous green front door of Bag End. Perfect – but I think my invite to this party had got lost in the post, sigh. Perhaps next time ?
We finished our tour with a walk across the bridge and a beverage in the Green Dragon – a local brew called Butter beer, hope you’ve heard of it ! Unfortunately its only available in The Shire. When we arrived we found a some evidence of others that had called in but they were in need of some privacy as Gandalf and Strider couldn’t be found anywhere.
Putting on my trip advisor hat on from a moment, as a tourist destination it would go on my ‘must do’ list, even if you aren’t a LOTR fan. To hear about the passion of Peter Jackson in his pursuit of excellence was fascinating in itself and perhaps it was because of the recent rain, but the grass in the Shire seemed that little bit greener than anywhere else ! The guides were passionate about the information they were giving and could describe the how certain areas were used in the films. Initially the price seemed a little steep but this was definitely justified, especially when you start to experience other attractions in New Zealand.
Did we manage to go in for tea ? Well I knocked on a few doors but as you know these Hobbits are shy and often taken away on unexpected adventures ! I found one door open and couldn’t resist a little peak.
So was I inspired to finally take those books back from the shelves and give them another try ? Yes I was…… see you in a little while !
Bye for now
Age Group girl