Searching for hobbits

I’d be lying to you if I told you that the Lord of the Rings trilogy wasn’t the main reason I’ve wanted to visit New Zealand for the past 17 years. Ever since that first film came out in 2001—which I obsessed over in a way that only a geeky teenager can—I’ve wanted to experience those dramatic landscapes for myself.

One of the big attractions in New Zealand for geeks like me is the Hobbiton set, used in both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the more recent Hobbit trilogy. They completely rebuilt the set for the second lot of films, though I suspect that was due to copyright reasons rather than to make it more permanent as they claim. I’ve been excited about seeing this set for a while and it feels like it took forever and also no time at all for the day to come.

Our Hobbiton Movie Set tour was part of a long day which involved an early drive from Rotorua and a visit to the Waitomo Caves afterwards, but I’ll speak about those details in another post. For now let’s pretend those two sweet hours were the only ones in the day.

The tours around Hobbiton are two hours long and are completely guided so that you get inside knowledge of the films, which also allows the guide to shout at anyone straying off the path. Apparently around 40% of visitors to the set have never even seen the films, so they just wander around clueless with no idea why they need a selfie by all 40+ hobbit holes, but they still take 1000 of them. Maybe they figure someone who follows them online is bound to have seen them, so there’s clearly a need for 10 different poses in front of everything.

Despite being in a large group for the tour we still managed to break away a little and get a longer look at the set. We had to sacrifice hearing random facts such as which item on the ground was fake, but I care more about the craftsmanship of the hobbit holes than being told things I already know. At the first doorway we were even graced by the presence of an adorable chubby cat who sauntered up and sat down in front of me like she owned the place. I gave her a stroke and reluctantly had to leave her in order to catch up with our tour guide.

The whole tour was amazing to experience, especially as a big fan of the books and films. Each house looks like a real place someone could live and there were loads of little items dotted about which made it feel as though the hobbits were just hiding indoors and could pop out at any moment. I could have spent hours there pouring over all the doorways and props if we didn’t have a group to follow.

At the end of our journey around Hobbiton we were treated to a drink at the Green Dragon, which was the perfect end to the tour. I would have loved to stick around for the evening banquet, but unfortunately tickets were long sold out even when we booked weeks in advance. Maybe next time I’ll get to dine like a hobbit.

If you find yourself in New Zealand, I’d completely recommend this tour. Even if you’ve only got a vague inkling of what the films are about I’d recommend it. The work which goes into keeping the farm feeling like a real Hobbit town is amazing and it’s fun to walk around and pretend you’re only a few feet tall.

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