An unexpected party
Sure, I’ve seen the movies, and also have a vague memory of reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when I was just ten years old, which I used to boast about, until this turns out to be completely false, as my father informs me that he actually read it aloud to me and my brother.
I have heard about Hobbiton, but am a bit skeptical about how wonderful it could actually be, however my cynicism disappears as soon as the bus rounds the first bend to reveals glimpses of a stone bridge, a lake, and a thatched roof. Wow, this isn’t just a few hobbit holes, this is a village! I perk up and sit on the edge of my seat.
We excitedly stepped off the bus and follow our guide, Louie, and the hedge-lined paths to the first hobbit holes of the movie set through ‘Gandalf’s Cutting.’ Though there are quite a few in the group, it does not feel crowded, and as usual, I start chatting to people, and end up taking photos of fellow tourists.
The gardens of the hobbit holes are both whimsical and practical, with cool looking realistic props. Wildflowers grow abundantly, and I even spot raspberries and blackberries. I have to remind myself this is a movie set not an actual village.
What I see is what appears in the movies, not what would be in a hobbit village, so after Louie tells us that hobbits live for around 144 years, and I wonder aloud why there is no cemetery, Louie reiterates the fact, that yes this is the movie set.
It feels so real though, as if the hobbits have just gone out for the day. Chimneys are smoking, and there is washing on the line. I am totally enchanted by the peaceful feeling of the set.
We reach what feels like the ‘middle’ of Middle Earth, ‘Bag End’, which is Bilbo and Frodo’s house, or ‘Hobbit Heights’, as I nickname it. This is a larger hobbit hole, and looks the most recognisable from the movies.
We meander on and across the manmade bridge with the mill’s water wheel gently clunking away, and Louie informs us the wheel is mechanical, because as it sits on a lake, there is no current to drive the wheel.
Of course! Like many things in the village, the mill just seems an effortless part of everything, and I do not think of the engineering behind it.
Inside, the shady interior of the Green Dragon is a welcome relief from the hot summer sun. Sure, there have been shady spots along the tour, but the cool grey flagstones and the refreshing free beverage of choice is well timed. I go for a non-alcoholic ginger beer, others a cider or ale, specially brewed for Hobbiton.
The tour is nearly over, and for twenty or so minutes, while Louie has a wellearned break from guiding, answering our questions, and herding wayward stragglers (myself included) I marvel at the attention to detail of both the interior and exterior.
This is the set just as it was filmed in the movies. There are not one but two open fires, which somehow are not overheating the rooms, maybe because of sheer size of the fireplaces and large chimneys, and perhaps because they haven’t been stoked up too much. Anyway, in winter I am sure the fire side chairs are super inviting.
Outside the inn, the blacksmith hobbit hole, which is one of the more recent additions to the village, is really incredible.
This is one of the few hobbit holes you can walk inside, and from the blackened walls and saddlery, to the flickering lamps and bellows, it feels as if one of the Shire horses might turn up any minute for a shoeing.
As we finish the last leg of the tour and wander along the tranquil path past the ‘Lakeside Hobbit holes’, I imagine that Hobbiton is like the kind of village that exists along with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Or, it is like the place in the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ where skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…
Ok, enough whimsy! I brace myself for the return to the real world. Hobbiton Movie Set is an experience to tantalise the senses of visitors from all across the globe, as guests find themselves immersed in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of The Shire, at the home of the Hobbits, as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.
The extraordinary following that the movies have amassed has led to our tours becoming a ‘must see’ while travellers are in New Zealand.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is the only set that remains intact from the trilogies, and that allows our visitors to fully immerse themselves in the wonders of The Shire.
Visitors are given the once in a lifetime opportunity to see an iconic movie set in its full glory; from wandering the rambling paths of The Shire, to seeing the submerged Hobbit Holes that litter the rolling hillsides.
Your guide will then escort you around the set, showing you the intricate detailing, pointing out the most famous locations and explaining how the movie magic was made.
You will be taken around the 12 acre set; past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you can sample our exclusive, specially brewed beverages to conclude your own Middle-earth adventure.
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