Author: Deborah DeNard
Date of Trip: October 2012
Hobbiton – New Zealand
Trip Taken: October 2012
This was to be the magical trip, a once in a lifetime adventure to the Shire of Hobbiton, tucked away in the hills of New Zealand’s Matamata with spectacular views of Kaimai Ranges. The Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour was going to be our chance to experience the real Middle-earth, having only heard what lay ahead I was leaving my imagination to do the rest.
So off we go, departing Wellington, our first stop was the airport, taking the elevator to the domestic lounge we were awestruck. Suspended from the high ceiling was a larger than life sized Gollum chasing fish for his dinner with his bare hands. Camera in hand and a smile on my face I thought, the magic has begun.
I couldn’t wait for the rest of our ‘Unexpected Journey’. Our AIR NZ plane was compact but roomy, perfect for the 45 minute flight to sunny Hamilton, finding the latest Koru Magazine Collectors issue of the Hobbit tucked inside the seat pocket was a keeper and a treat to read as the prelude to our arrival. Landing in Hamilton, the pace was easy going, and the folk accommodating, we collected our brand new rental vehicle from Euro cars with map and directions in hand we headed off.
The Shire Store and the Shires Rest Café was our first glimpse into this unique destination. Our tour started with a drive through the picturesque 1.250 acre sheep farm, and there it was, the story book was open for all to see. With our guide ‘Henry’ escorting us through the ten acre site recounting the fascinating details and moments of how the Hobbit Movie Set was created.
Hobbit holes, are the homes of the Hobbits found dotted along the narrow winding walkways are perfect in every way. From the violets and pansies growing at the base of a Hobbit letter box, curtains and nic nacs in the little round windows, smoke from the chimney stacks and washing on the line, we had strolled into another world. Vege and flower patches with their own little bird houses, quaint picket fences, plum and apple trees and scarecrows to mind the crops, I just wanted to move in with my bags and stay forever.
Our 2 hour tour finally led us towards the Mill house with its thatched roof and water wheel, over the stone bridge to the stunning Green Dragon Pub where we could refresh ourselves with a Shire beer or cider drawn from an old wooden barrel. To complete the authenticity of this make believe world our drinks were served in pottery tankards made by the local potter – a Hobbit of course.
Though we didn’t get to meet a Hobbit on the day you couldn’t help but feel welcomed into their world. Without wanting to give too much away, the experience lived up-to my fertile imagination and then the Shire delivered more. Hobbiton is for everyone, whether a movie buff or not, a child or grown up it will delight, enchant and draw you in. With tours running 7 days a week excluding Christmas Day the doors are always open, its just part of the perfect Hobbiton hospitality.
We left with warm fuzzy memories of a Shire that we hope will be there in years to come, I would love everyone to experience this wondrous little place, the passion and dedication of the Hobbiton team and to see the Movie Set in all its glory.
The final leg of our journey was a nights stay the Miro Court Villas, a step off Broadway and the perfect finish to a perfect day. Miro Court is Matamata’s newest motel, luxury executive accommodation in the centre of town, one step off Broadway. Wowed at the moment we entered this well designed and tasteful space, accommodating privacy, peace and every convenience for our short overnight stay. The bathroom and shower was big and luxurious, the towels fluffy and a snugly bathrobe was the perfect touch for a tired body. Finally a bedtime cuppa of tea while watching the last of the daily news on the 42” flat screen TV before heading to bed for a good-nights sleep, crisp white sheets on a super-king size bed – it truly was the magical trip.