Hobbiton, New Zealand
Other than photography and travelling, fantasy is one of the biggest passions of Mike. Once he gets into a book, there is no break until he knows the fate of all the heroes. Apart from the complex characters, the most important part of good fantasy is the world. It is a stage of all the action and everything depends on its complexity and mechanisms ruling it are often crucial to the plot. The Father of modern fantasy – J.R.R. Tolkien created a truly amazing world which inspires generation after generation. Nowadays, anyone can pay a visit to the charming town of Hobbiton. The movie based on the great trillogy was directed by Peter Jackson. He chose his homeland to be a movie set and now, New Zealand is known world wide as a place as beautiful as Middle-Earth itself. It is a curious question to ask: “What is Lord of the Rings about?”Is it about power? Maybe about friendship? For us, it is definitely about an adventure!
Idyllic movie set – The Shire!
In 1998 the film crew responsible for The Lord of the Rings was looking for an idyllic, rural location which would resemble a hobbit country description from the book. Finally, they found a perfect spot. Away from power lines and modern highways. After 9 months of construction work the village came to live! First set was demolished after shooting, but the crew returned to the spot for the new trillogy – The Hobbit. After that, the movie set was turned into a tourist attraction. We just had to see it!
How to get to Middle-Earth?
A journey to fairytale land did not take so long. Hobbiton is locateted next to the town of Matamata, 2 hours drive from New Zeland’s biggest city – Auckland. Matamata is very influenced by tourism. You can visit a tourist information which looks just like an inn from the story of The One Ring. In addition, not far away, you can find thermal wonderland of Rotorua and the spectacular caves of Waitomo. Therefore, you should not miss this region while planning your roadtrip. A few kilometers outside of the town you will find “Shire’s Rest”.
Visiting the Shire
We have to leave our car on the parking lot because only the guided groups are allowed in the Shire. Besiclly you have 2 options to choose from. You can either go with a group in a day time or for an evening sightseeing which includes a themed feast in the Green Dragon Inn. Sadly, no individual sightseeing allowed. We still had some time to our departure so we enjoyed a cup o coffee. All the attractions are located outside, therefore it is the best idea to come on a nice, sunny day.
Hobbiton – sightseeing
At our departure time we boarded the bus with a group of 30 people and here our road to Middle-Earth began.
In the bus, on a tv screen, Peter Jackson was inviting us to the sightseeing. You could see some parts of the movies with the music was coming out of the speakers. The soundtrack was well known to the fans. We felt so excited and moved that we almost wanted to cry. We trully made it all the way across the globe to experience that!
There are a few dozens of hobbit holes. Many of them are themed. You can find a home of a baker, cheesemaker, fisherman and so on. Details are so carefully prepared, wonderfully made and in such a neat way, that it almost seemed that hobbits had left 5 minutes ago.
Hobbit holes are saddly only fasades. There is nothing inside. All the scenes from the inside were shot in the studio. Bag End has a tiny interior so the scenes at the door look realistic. Other than that, you can find a small umbrella storage in one of them. The doors vary in size. Some of them were build twice, once in full size and the second time in 40% size. The reason for it is to show the difference of hight between Gandalf and the hobbits. When Ian MacKellen was in the shot he stood next to the 40% sized doors so he seemed a lot taller than Eliah Wood standing next to the full-sized doors. This is one of many fun facts that we heard from our well informed and passionate guide. We were worried that the number of people in the group will make it impossible to take nice pictures without strangers in them. Fortunatelly it wasn’t so bad, after all.
Finally we made it to the top of the hill, on the doorstep of mr Bilbo Baggins. There is an artiffical tree growing over Bag End which was build for the movie to match the description from the book. Views around are nspoiled and picturesque. Cheerful, rural, peaceful life is something what every hobbit wants isn’t it?
“The Green Dragon Inn”
We walked past a meadow where Bilbo’s 111th birthday party was held and straight to the “Green Dragon Inn“. There is a drink included in the price of the tour and a cold, cold beer brewed only for this place was exaclly what we needed. There is a fireplace in every corner and the atmosphere is really cosy and friendly. We did feel really sad that it was the end of our adventure in the Middle-Earth. On the way back, we were watching some cuts from the movies as well and everybody could recignize the places that we had just visited.
We recommend visiting Hobbiton to everybody. It is a trully magical place. You do not have to be the biggest fan of the Lord of the Rings to appreciate the beauty, atmosphere and the spirit of this place.