If you’re anything like me, at the quick mention of New Zealand, the wondrous tales of Lord Of The Rings would surely come to mind. Making a trip to New Zealand would definitely not be complete without a visit to the movie set of Hobbiton. The scene was already set in my head even prior to making the trip over to Matamata, lush countryside covered in a sea of vibrant greens that plastered the surrounding fields and hills, perhaps hundreds of sheep even roaming the area grazing on grass, maybe Gandalf hitching a ride from us, yeah that sort of scene played in my head as we eagerly anticipated how it would turn out.
What would be a great option to scout the countryside of New Zealand and also having the flexibility time to manage our own time & detours? A rented car. After a quick lunch on the very magical day that we’d be visiting Hobbiton, we picked up our car and started the drive from Auckland to Matamata.
Our stop was at The Shire’s Rest, where we picked up our entrance tickets and parked our car after a long 2.5 hour drive from the city.
A line full of excited tourists and adventurers started forming at the bus stop where a huge bus was awaiting for everyone to get on board. We boarded swiftly alongside our other travellers as we embarked on our journey into the heart of Hobbiton. Oh boy was the scenery pretty, with Peter Jackson making an appearance on the big TV screen in front of the bus, he kept us company with some commentary about the location’s history till we arrived at our destination.
The scenery was just gorgeous. It was actually more magical than I had anticipated, no where close on how I’d imagine this place to be. Watch out Frodo, we’re coming for you! With perfect clear blue skies, the scene was set. Cameras are firing at the go.
I felt really bad for the tour guide, she tried to keep everyone in one place as she started her story telling. Everyone stopped listening to her and started straying the moment she brought us to see our first Hobbit hole. Cameras went clicking and her explanation on the little details fell on deaf ears. I mean, how surreal is this? It looks perfect. No one could help themselves nor prepare themselves for the push and shove when eyes fell on this little home.
During our walkabout through Hobbiton, we stumbled across a bride and groom frolicking in the grounds taking their wedding photos. Our tour guide casually mentioned that wedding packages are also available at Hobbiton. Fireworks not provided by Gandalf though.
At this point, it was safe to say most people were trailing behind our walking tour. Everyone had to play catch up after every photo opportunity when the area cleared.
Highlight of the trip which caused a traffic jam of tourists, would of course be the home of Bilbo Baggins. There was a long line forming with every person trying to get the perfect shot of his home without anyone else in the picture. With this human traffic jam, our guide took the opportunity to tell us that the giant tree that was growing out of Bilbo’s home was the only artificial tree in the whole of Hobbiton. It was a constructed out of metal and foam, and each leaf had to be painstakingly attached by hand to each brach, there were 20 thousand leaves. Talk about attention to detail. I wouldn’t even had notice if she hadn’t pointed it out.
Unfortunately there were no real furniture or anything that resembles a home once you peek through the Hobbit doors. Still looks pretty damn spectacular from the outside though.
Another spot which got me really excited was also the Party Field, the scene in the first movie where Bilbo celebrated his eleventy-first (111th) birthday before putting on the ring and vanishing into thin air. Unfortunately this area was cordoned off with ropes, no entry except for party business.
Before realising how much time had passed, our guide made an announcement that the tour has unfortunately come to an end, and that she would be taking us to the Green Dragon pub for a complimentary drink before ending our day in Hobbiton. That was probably the quickest 90 minutes of my life. We still had another 30 minutes of free time left to wander around and enjoy our drinks, taking in the beautiful surroundings before making our way back onto the bus.
Unfortunately my request to fly my Mavic Pro drone here was denied by the park operators, I had previously emailed to ask if it was permissible to do so as I have seen videos of people flying their drones over Hobbiton. It is now a designated drone free zone, gah! Such a shame though, a view of this place from above would have been spectacular.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour, though despite the missing Hobbits and a special grey wizard, it was a magical and truly enriching experience for just about anyone, from die hard fans of the movies, the books, or it could simply be just for your immense love of a pristine countryside that New Zealand has to offer. I would highly recommend anyone who is visiting the country to pop by and witness this for yourselves. Now, to embark on our very own adventure back to Auckland city.