– HOBBITON –
– Matamata, New Zealand –
I’ve been to many gorgeous places, man made and natural wonders and about a month ago I had the pleasure of visiting Matamata and one of New Zealand’s most famous attractions: Hobbiton Movie Set.
I’ll tell you about my experience but first let me tell you the fascinating story…
“Little by little, one travels far”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
In 1998 Peter Jackson and team boarded helicopters to search the lands of New Zealand for the perfect site to film J.R.R. Tolkien‘s famous Lord of the Rings trilogy on a Saturday afternoon in 1998, after long days of searching, there was a world-changing knock on the door at the Alexander family farm near Matamata…
The fairytale of Hobbiton
In March 1999, an army of 400 strong landscapers, innovative designers and strong helpers started transforming the 12 acre Alexander farmland to the LOTR movie set, The Shire.
Over the course of nine months the original set was built out of temporary materials, such as 7mm ply and styrofoam, which was largely deconstructed at the end of The Lord of the Rings filming.
In 2011, in preparation for Tolkien’s The Hobbit movies, during two years the Hobbiton village was rebuilt in more permanent materials, complete with paths leading to big and small Hobbit holes, a mill, miniature gardens, orchards, a double arch bridge and even a party tree.
Since 2012 Hobbiton is visited by film and book fans wayfaring from all over the world for their chance of a photo in front of Bilbo Baggins house.
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Of course, nothing was finalised without the permission of its director Sir Peter Jackson, so the 26 tonne oak tree now overlooking Bag End was, on demand, cut down and brought in from near Matamata and to create the perfect vision, each branch was counted, chopped and transported to Hobbiton. Artificial leaves imported from Taiwan were individually wired onto the dead tree under the surveillance of Sir Jackson himself.
With the fake leaves being bleached in the strong New Zealand sun, they have been replaced several times and have now been individually hand painted to remain the“life” of the tree.
The newest addition to Hobbiton is the Green Dragon Inn, opened in December 2012, the facilities of Hobbiton are now allowing celebrations of special occasions to be held at the grounds. Yes! You can now hold your wedding at The Shire! How’s that for a party?!
The aim is to keep Hobbiton expanding, so the philosophy is to add something new every year.
Our tour started with a bus ride, in a very old bus only adding to the experience, through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm showing spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Our well informed guide told us the stories about the making of Hobbiton whilst the bus driver left the bus, on more than three occasions, to open and close the gates keeping the Alexander family’s sheep from escaping the premises.
We were led into the site and, as we explored the 44 unique Hobbit Holes taking photos along the way, our guide entertained us with facts of the set along with quotes and scenes memorised from the movies.
It was a very hot afternoon and The Shire was protected from all possible wind so I guess you could say it was a blazing experience!
We were extremely lucky with the weather on our visit (with it raining the previous weeks) and Hobbiton’s hills were showed off in their most saturated green as the bright sunshine enhanced The Shire.
After taking our mandatory photos outside of Bilbo’s house we were led down to The Party Field where we were treated with a gorgeous view of The Green Dragon Inn whilst shouting our hearts out for beer.
The great touch of a complimentary cider, beer or soft drink at the famous Inn was greatly enjoyed, and walking over the double arched bridge to turn around and look back at The Shire was truly an incredible sight…
Lord of the ring fan or not.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Have you been to Hobbiton? I’d love to hear your story and see your photos!
Post a link to your blog at the comments section below :D.
Thanks to http://hobbitontours.co.nz/ for making our visit so special :).