- Time: 11:30am
- Date: May 22, 2015
- Location: Hobbiton
“Has anyone here never seen any of the movies or read the books?” – Grace, the tour guide
Blonde girl in a bright blue rain coat is the only one raising her hand [cue everyone turn and stare]
3 Hours Earlier
We woke up bright and early ready for our 2 1/2 hour trip to Matamata from the Coromandel Peninsula. After all, my boyfriend wasn’t about to be late to our tour of Hobbiton, and roads in New Zealand have a way of making a 30 mile trip take 2 hours. We missed a couple of turns, which is pretty standard for us, but signs pointing us to Matamata confirmed we were going the right direction. And sure enough, we pulled into town with time to spare and caught a glimpse of a Hobbition Movie Set bus, and hiding right behind it was the Hobbiton Information Center. Although it didn’t exactly blend in with downtown Matamata, it gave us a little sneak peak into our Hobbiton tour, and my boyfriend got even more excited. (I was pretty much just there supporting a fan.) We figured out how to reach the Shire and were on our way. The road started out pretty straight, and the land was surprisingly flat.
“I thought the rocky mountains would be a little rockier than this.” – Harry
We were in search of rolling green hills after all, but the further we got from town, the more Shire-esque it got. And the more anxious we grew. The road started winding, and sheep seemed to appear by the hundreds. For not being a big LOTR or Hobbit fan, I got weirdly excited – probably because the landscape in New Zealand never ceases to amaze me, and “The Shire” was no exception.
We soon pulled into Hobbiton, and all I could think about was how crazy it was that people travel across the world to visit the once little-known town of Matamata to experience “Middle Earth.” What started as a single book has now become a permanent set and an incredibly popular tourist site. The details that went into the movies, the set, and everything Hobbiton is wild, and I still can’t wrap my head around it. But what I do know is that I fell in love with Hobbiton, am now slightly obsessed with hobbits, and want to move into a hobbit hole.
Oh, and between the time I visited Hobbiton and now, I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Yes, I was the girl in the blue rain coat, but guess what, Hobbiton inspired me to watch the movies. Baby steps.
Back to MY unexpected journey
So after everybody stared at me for never having seen the movies, my journey around Hobbiton commenced. And the guide confirmed that a good number of people who’ve never seen the LOTR or Hobbit movies have visited Hobbiton, just because or with a fan. I, at least, was with a big fan.
Like most tours, ours began with a safety briefing, because one can never be too careful. Then, we walked along a tiny stone pathway and emerged into HOBBITON. It felt like I was at Disney World, Hogwarts, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, or some other magical made-up land all rolled into one. We’re talking about little hobbit holes tucked into the bright green hills here with little vegetable gardens and clotheslines with clean hobbit clothes swaying in the wind. Is this real life? My 7 year old self could’ve played pretend there all day. Or my 24 year old self. Just sayin’.
1. We skipped along the stone pathways
2. Admired the perfectly manicured vegetable gardens
3. Took a pit stop at Bag End
4. Pretended to be hobbits in front of the 44 hobbit holes.
5. Drove this wonderful invention
6. Chugged beer at Green Dragon Inn
7. And tried to figure out how to move here.
We [mainly me] learned all the little tidbits that went into the making of the films and Hobbiton. And they definitely didn’t cut any corners.
Did you know?
- They brought in an Eagle from America to keep other birds away during filming. She was nicknamed Annie the Terminator.
- Hobbiton was built on the Alexander’s beef and sheep farm.
- There are about 12,000 sheep, although nobody has ever counted.
- The Alexander family still runs the tours today.
- 44 hobbit holes in total – although if you were reading closely you should already know this.
- And a million other things that you’ll just have to visit Hobbiton if you want to find out.
So no, I never ever expected to be into hobbits, but Hobbiton put a spell on me, and that’s saying a lot considering I had never even heard of Bag End before our tour…go on an adventure, you never know what you might discover.