On New Years’ Day, after an exciting morning of Zorbing, we channeled our inner Bilbo Baggins and set off on an adventure! To Hobbiton.
A little pathetic backstory here: Hobbiton was really the reason that I had chosen New Zealand as a honeymoon destination in the first place. I was so enchanted by the scenery of the Lord of the Rings movies that I wanted to visit the film locations myself. Hobbiton was the only site we made it to, though. Now back to Hobbiton itself.
If you are a LOTR fan like Rebecca and I are, then Hobbiton is absolutely the coolest. It was built on a sheep farm outside of Matamata, a tiny town near the center of New Zealand’s North island. Peter Jackson picked the location because of the party tree, which, as it turns out, is a California Pine tree (go Cali!) – whoops. It looks EXACTLY like it did in the movie, and pretty much exactly what we thought it should look like from the books. Jackson did a truly fantastic job building the set, so much so that I was ready to move in. More on that in a sec.
Aiden, our tour guide, is a local who got the tour guide gig as a summer job when his brother went off to university. I thought it would be the coolest job ever, and he said it was, but that he met a bunch of weirdos. I told him that that makes it even better sounding – who wouldn’t want to give tours to weirdos? Weirdos are fun! Thinking I was missing something, he decided to share some examples. Once, he explained, a family came on the tour speaking entirely in Elvish, including the child, and told him they spoke it at home. Another girl asked where the hobbits were. Aiden said he laughed and then said they were all on holiday, thinking she was joking. She laughed, too, and then asked, “But seriously, where are they?” At which point he told her they were fictional. She then proceeded to burst into tears, saying she knew that they were fake but that he didn’t have to make her feel stupid. Umm… he didn’t, you are. All in a day’s work as a Hobbiton tour guide, I guess. Weirdos.
There are a few reasons I was ready to buy a tiny hobbit hole and live in it. First, hobbit holes are sized for me and pretty much me alone. Aiden, our tour guide, said that for the first set of movies, the height restriction for hobbit extras was 5′ 4″ or under. For the latest Hobbit movies, you had to be under 5′ 2″. Thus, I am a perfect hobbit, and I clearly missed my opportunity at stardom. And I’m pretty sure that if you fit in the hole, they have to give it to you. So that’s reason number one. (For a picture of me in a hobbit hole, visit my flickr set and look around.)
Number two: Hobbiton is gorgeous. It has a tiny lake, beautiful gardens, and tons and tons of well tended flowers. Hobbits are gardeners, and though I currently do not have a garden at home, my sister is an excellent gardener so I must have a green thumb somewhere. I could make it work.
Number three: Hobbiton has tons of colorful personalities and ornery old men. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at the Green Dragon and have a pint with Merry and Pippin and the rest, singing songs (I love karaoke) and telling tall tales (I like making things up, too)? Naturally, I’d stay away from Frodo, the lamest of all the hobbits, and our tour guide’s least favorite character in the series. When I did my Frodo impression — eyes open wide, mouth agape, looking simultaneously scared, determined, and angry — he had a giggle and told me I was spot on. Frodo sucks so I’d have to make different friends. Maybe Rosie has a cousin.
The only thing stopping me from moving there in fact is that the hobbit holes are unfurnished and incomplete. For the movie, you only go inside one hobbit hole – Bilbo’s – and they did that all in their studios, not on site. That way they could control the lighting. So if I bought a hole, I’d have to do lots of work to dig out the rest, furnish it, and then figure out how to live my electricity-less existence. Sounds like too much work for me.
Anyway, head over to Flickr to see my pictures from Hobbiton, and if you ever make it to New Zealand, it is not to be missed. And though the tour is pricey, they finish you off with a pint at the Green Dragon for realz. Real beer. And for LOTR fans, it’s an experience you’ll remember forever. Bonus points if you show up dressed like a hobbit.