I have lots to share with you about my 2 week trip to New Zealand! I will start with one of the main highlights of my trip; Hobbiton. Hobbiton is where they filmed parts of all 3 Lord of the Rings movies and also the new film, The Hobbit.
While in New Zealand, I stayed with my good friend Ailia, who lives in South Auckland. On an overcast morning we drove about 2 hours from Auckland to Matamata to visit Hobbiton. Ailia’s friend Anna also came and she is awesome. It was a gorgeous, green drive and I loved seeing all the back roads and beautiful properties. There were sheep and cows everywhere! We also passed a few big horse racing tracks and lots of horse raising properties. The road was super windy for awhile and we realized we took the long way to Hobbiton. Instead of using google’s directions we should have used the ones on www.hobbitontours.com.
By the time we arrived, it was pouring rain, although it wasn’t cold at all, just humid. We parked at the “Shire Rest Café” where we checked in and got onto the bus for our tour. I found out you cannot get into Hobbiton except by tour bus or tour guide. It is private property, owned by the "Alexander Family” and they manage the tour business. An adult ticket costs $62 USD ($75 NZD) and for me, it was worth every cent! We booked our tickets online the day before, but you can also buy them at the café and catch the next tour (they are every 15 minutes).
While on the bus, our tour guide started giving us all kinds of cool facts about the property. I could go on forever about everything, but I will keep it short here! The photo below is while on the bus, heading to hobbiton. There are 17,000 sheep on the Alexander property and here are some of them (p.s. None of them made it into the movies because they didn’t look English enough).
Although it was raining during our entire tour, it really didn’t hamper it at all. They provided us with nice umbrellas and I was still able to get some great photos. Walking into Hobbiton was almost exactly as I had imagined, because everything looked just how it was filmed in the movies.
There was so much detail, it was incredible. Each and every flower or plant was chosen with a purpose. The gardens were created to look like old English gardens. Hobbiton currently employs 5 full time gardeners. The little benches were handmade and they had everything set up the way it was shown in the movies.
The photo below is the only real roof on a hobbit hole in all of Hobbiton.
The size of the holes varied, some were tall enough to stand inside and others were only about 4 feet tall. The ones whose doors opened did not have real ‘insides’. There was just enough room to walk in and shut the door, in order to get a shot. The interiors that are shown in the movies are all filmed off site in a studio.
We walked up the hill and got a great view across the lake. The city center is across the lake which includes the stables and the Green Dragon.
And here is Bilbo’s home, aka Bag End! Random fact: it was actually entirely torn down and rebuilt before The Hobbit was filmed.
Another random fact: All the mailboxes in Hobbiton are painted to match the profession of the owner. This guy was the aviculturist.
Then we got to visit the Green Dragon! They have rebuilt it (so it looks much different than the one in the movies) so that full-size people can go inside. They gave us a ‘free’ drink of either Ginger Beer, Beer or alcoholic Apple Cider. So for me, Ginger Beer it was! It was actually really delicious.
The interior was beautiful with awesome woodwork. I also bought a warm muffin to snack on. My baby was hungry since the tour had already been about an hour and a half.
After the Green Dragon, we walked back to the entrance of Hobbiton and waited for our bus to take us back to the Shire Rest Café.
At the café we were able to buy some cool souvenirs and lunch if we wanted. I bought some Christmas gifts for my family. Overall, it was an incredible experience! I left out a lot of the details, but just know it was awesome. :)