Visiting Hobbiton

I am so excited to share today's photos with you!  You see we went to The Shire, and I think it was by far, my favorite part of this trip to New Zealand!

The Hobbiton Movie Set is in Matamata, a rural town in the region of Waikato.  It's an easy day trip from Auckland and since we already had the rental car, I decided we were going (no one objected, thank goodness)!

We set off in the morning and before we knew it we were on the outskirts of Auckland heading south on good ol' highway 1 (it really is like, the only road in New Zealand!).  We had programmed the address for the Shire's Rest into our GPS and selected the "easiest route".  We were a bit surprised when it took us off the highway and led us down country roads that just kept getting tinier and tinier (and more and more rural).  I was in heaven though!  There were no other cars at all, and these little windy roads took us through the most beautiful countryside you can imagine. The gorgeous weather certainly didn't hurt either!  We did find a place to pull over and get some photos.  The air was so fresh, and you could hear cows mooing in the background - I WANT TO LIVE THERE!

Before too long, we pulled into the Shire's Rest where the Hobbiton tours start (in order to get onto the set, you have to go on a tour).  We collected the tickets I had booked for us online, and decided to have a bite to eat at the cafĂ© while we waited on our tour time.

When our time rolled along, we lined up to wait for our bus.

A short bus ride later and we were there!  We had a fantastic tour guide who was friendly, funny and really knew her stuff.

As we walked through the Shire, she explained that there were 39 hobbit holes constructed for the movies.  There are two different sizes of holes: small ones which were used for scenes with Gandalf, for instance, to provide the illusion that he is a good deal bigger than the hobbits; and bigger ones which made the hobbits look of a normal size (did you know that you had to be under 5'2" to be a hobbit in the movies??)  I believe she said that there are only two hobbit holes that were built so that you could go inside.  The rest only have enough room behind the door for a hobbit to enter, and then close the door behind them.  Of course all of the interior scenes of Hobbiton were shot at the studios in Wellington.

She also pointed out places we might recognize from certain memorable scenes, and encouraged people to reenact them.  No one from our tour group was brave (or crazy) enough to do it!

^^Looking up towards Bag End, aka Bilbo's house.  The tree is fake, but was a must since Bilbo's house was build under an oak tree.^^

^^Bilbo's house is definitely the most well-known of the hobbit holes!^^

The attention to detail was amazing!  There was smoke coming from chimneys, lights inside and loads of props arranged all over.  Our tour guide told us that during the filming, people would change the laundry hanging on the lines daily and walk around the area just so that there were freshly made paths.

I just couldn't get over how incredibly beautiful the countryside was.  Everything just seemed so perfect, and not just the man-made set!  Not to mention that we were completely surrounded by the most intense shade of green I have ever seen.  It was really easy to see why they chose this area to be the Shire.

^^The big tree in the background is the Party Tree and was one of the main reasons for choosing this spot as the Shire.^^

The tour continued on across the arched stone bridge to the Green Dragon Inn, where everyone was treated to a drink - beer (two different varieties), hard cider or ginger beer.  I had to opt for ginger beer since I was driving, but we picked up a bottle of lager and cider to have later that evening.

Even if you're not a big Lord of the Rings fan I can't recommend the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour enough.  Overall the tour lasted about two hours.  It was plenty of time to see the entire set, get lots of good photos and enjoy your beer at a leisurely pace.  I recommend booking your tour ahead of time on their website.  If you don't want to drive to the set yourself you can also arrange for tours leaving from Auckland, Rotorua or central Matamata.  

Of course, as soon as we got home Bryn and I put on Lord of the Rings to rewatch the Hobbiton scenes!  

(I took so many photos at Hobbiton and it was really hard to choose which ones to post here today!!  I hope you enjoyed them!)

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