It was right after spring last year that I decided that it would be imperative to go to New Zealand for Christmas Break. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that it would be Summertime in New Zealand, so while everyone was waring with snow, sleet, hail, and all that other stuff back in the states, we would be heading down to kick off summer and bring in the New Year.
One of the first places that my sister and I decided that we would stop at would be Hobbiton. We wanted to see The Shire, and since it was only a very short drive from the airport in Auckland to “The Shire” in Matamata, Hobbiton became our first stop on our Road Trip. It was awesome! Even if you aren’t an avid Lord of the Rings Fan, you should go and see the site and enjoy the scenery as well as some crazy facts that went into the making of the set. The tour guides are extremely friendly and full to bursting with all kinds of information about the filming of the movies.
Everybody must take a bus of some sort whether you are coming from the town of Matamata or Shire’s Rest you will ride to the site with a group where your tour will begin. We were lucky enough to ride “Gandolf the White”. Along the way, the bus driver told us all kinds of information about the route getting there. The road itself is gravel and narrow and was made by the New Zealand Army. They made it for the original shooting back in 1999 and were told to make it stable enough for big trucks to be able to drive down.
Our tour guide told us about some of the crazy fans that have visited Hobbiton since it opened. They have had all kinds of people dress up in all different characters from LOTR, Harry Potter, and Star Wars (huh?). He told us that a guy had written a letter in the language of Middle Earth, then had flown halfway across the world just so he could get a picture of himself posting a letter in Bilbo Baggin’s mail box. Now that’s one dedicated fan right there.
Which way, which way? During the filming of the movies there were 39 hobbit holes constructed. All of them were made out of perishable materials. When the demolition was about to begin after the filming a very bad storm blew in and they had to wait 6 months. During this time they made a decision to reconstruct Hobbiton fully and open it to the public for tours. They have just added 5 more hobbit holes to make an impressive 44 Hobbit Holes in “The Shire” and they have a signed contract for 50 years to give people tours, so don’t worry you still have time to make it!
Everything is so intricately constructed, not a detail was overlooked. In the trees surrounding “The Shire” there are many New Zealand birds with a distinctive bell sound that they make. So what did they do to get rid of them during the filming? Took a gun full of blanks and shot it into the sky and then allotted an hour before they would have to do it again. That is some of the pain staking lengths they went through to make Middle Earth as real and as comparable to the books as they possibly could.
Here is Bilbo’s Birthday tree. The tree featured at his 111th birthday party. Apparently Peter Jackson just had to have this tree as part of the party so they filled in a swamp at the base of it with all of the dirt they were moving for the hobbit holes. The entire Birthday Party was filmed at The Shire except for the last second, when Bilbo places the ring on his finger and disappears. That one second was filmed at a studio in Wellington where they reconstructed the bottom 4 feet of the tree for the big moment!
The biggest and most famous hobbit hole of them all, Bilbo and Frodo’s home. This is the only hobbit hole that extends back 15ft. and unfortunately you aren’t able to go inside to have a look-see because as the sign says, no admittance except for party business.
This is a special tree right above Bilbo’s home and why you ask, is it so special? Because its completely fake! and it cost 1.3 million dollars to make. Peter Jackson knew that there HAD to be an oak tree. Unfortunately New Zealand does not have a high supply of oak trees, if any, so they decided to place a fake oak tree above Bilbo’s house to make it as authentic as possible. Once the tree was in place Peter Jackson did not like the leaves very much, and so he decided to have them painted, one by one. That’s a lot of consideration for just one tree, eeee!
Inside the Green Dragon, you can sit back, relax, and have a pint of ale that is made specially for The Shire. There’s also a type of cider and if you don’t like any alcoholic beverages or have to drive, there’s something for you too!
One of my favorite pictures because it was hard to get a picture of the bridge with nobody walking on it. I saw a quick photo opportunity right as we rounded the last bend to board the bus and got the shot!
Have you already been to Hobbiton and do you have anything else to add? Please do in the comments section below!
This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer.