From the moment I knew we were going to be in New Zealand (and my husband informed me that the world of LOTR was going to very near) we knew we had to go on an adventure ;) For those of you that have absolutely no clue what this first sentence was about, let me give you a bit more information, you culture barbarians.
Hobbiton, come again?
New Zealand is home to many movie sets from the magical movie trilogies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Hobbiton is a village in The Shire, the region where the hobbits such as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins live in hobbit holes. They're smaller than humans yet have gigantic and hairy feet but that didn't actually matter to my story, although you have a better view of hobbits now. Oh and in the first Hobbit movie in a specific scene Bilbo Baggins runs through Hobbiton screaming "I'M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE" hence my reference to it in the first sentence, sorry for that non-geeks. The movie set of Hobbiton is kept entirely intact and can be visited, it's located about a one-hour bus drive away from Tauranga. Tauranga happened to be a port of call where our cruise ship docked for a day so we were crazily excited to visit it!
First fun fact of the day: the Hobbiton set was actually a regular sheep farm until one day in 1997 a location scout from Hollywood came knocking on the farmer's door. However because there was some sports game going on, he didn't feel like opening the door for anyone yet after a couple of tries the farmer eventually had his say and the deal was set. I bet that farmer made the deal of his life! After one year of construction and modification, Hobbiton was ready and looking gorgeous for the shootings about to come.
How your adventure will look like
When visiting I was unfortunate to be arriving insanely nauseous due to my inability to stay sane on a bus, especially when it also has to make turns. Upon arriving in the Shire's Rest you're assigned a number and a timeslot for your Hobbiton bus to leave. I started having light panic attacks that the whole tour was going to be with a bus again however it was just a 5-minute drive to the entrance of the walking tour.
Fun fact Nr.2: When the contract was signed and the construction was going to start there was no road, which was not an option as tons of giant trailer had to come here. So the production asked the New Zealand government however they couldn't spare a dollar yet they were friendly enough to find another solution. Eventually, an agreement was made that the New Zealand army was going to build the road for free, the funny thing is in exchange they got to play the first Ork army starred in the movies. (Apparently, they even had to be 'calmed down' a bit as the army guys were a bit too enthusiastic in their roles)
You can only visit the Hobbiton movie set on a guided tour, at first we thought that was going to suck however the guides are all young and very into LOTR so they're simply full of fun facts and they're reserving enough time for you to take photos etc. as they really encourage that. Now one fact that apparently disappoints a lot of people and even made one girl cry according to our guide is that all inside scenes were filmed in the studios so opening the hobbit holes shows nothing but dirt. Only Bilbo and Frodo's hole can be opened a little bit but still no house behind that door. I just wanted to give you a head's up so you can control your emotions if you'd ever go there.
We were quite unfortunate with the weather as it was raining non-stop all day long, however, this movie set is gorgeous in any weather, it really feels like you're just stepping into the movie as everything is so realistic, detailed and beautifully maintained. At the end of your tour, you're even offered a free beer or soda in a stone cup in the Dragon Inn, where the wood is burning in the stove, no detail is wrong in this place! We absolutely loved it!
3rd fun fact of the day: in the first Hobbit movie when the gathering is going on in Bilbo's house do you remember Gandalf bumping his head to the chandelier? Yes? That was totally planned, however right after he bumps his head on the ceiling as well right? That one was not part of the script but good old Gandalf simply said 'Oh' and kept on going with his lines.
Do we need to say more?
To any of you Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit fans, and actually even for the non-fans as apparently 30% of the park's visitors have never seen or read the movies nor the books, crazy right? Anyway to all of you, when in the Northern island of New Zealand, visit Hobbiton as it's a definite must do!
A bit more practical info:
- The tour is 79 NZD per person as of 17yrs old. You can book a time slot in advance on their website.
- There are private tour options or tours that include banquets etc. Booking in advance is essential as they may sell-out.
- This all can be done and found on their website
One major tip: if you're like us coming there with a cruise ship, don't take the ship excursion but try to arrange it for yourself and book it in advance. To give you an idea, we spent 200 USD per person on this excursion, and no our bus wasn't with massaging chairs and a 5-course meal.. Therefore check online for other options, even renting a car for a day, driving there and taking the tour is cheaper!