After our four days in Auckland, we packed up our stuff and headed out to pick up our travelling companion for the next week - a teeny tiny Hyundai Getz. The hire car company had promised that it came with maps, so we didn't bother to book a GPS. The maps turned out to be either insanely localised OR the whole of the North Island on one A4 page, so it was a good thing that I'd looked up specific directions in Google Maps before we left Kat's
A little hesitantly, we hit the road and headed south. Luckily, New Zealand is not like Australia and they actually number their freeways and the associated exits. WHEEEEEEEE. That made navigating a lot easier. We hit a little rain on the way down, but luckily it stopped before we reached our destination or had to do any SERIOUS navigating because while getting to Matamata was entirely straightforward, there was an almost entire lack of brown tourist signs from there, which led us to drive about 10km down a windy country road almost entirely convinced that we were going the wrong way. And then, about 200m before the driveway, there was a sign. HOW HELPFUL.
Still, we reached our destination with sufficient time left over to have a wee spot of lunch. Appropriate, really, considering where we were. Our destination?
Not gonna lie, I haven't fangirled that hard since I went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter this time last year.
I think I was one of the few people on our tour who was actually fangirling though - most of the other people on our tour seemed to be of the "when in New Zealand..." approach to things. Or they were hiding their excitement a lot better than I was...
The first thing we saw was the narrow passageway where Frodo jumps onto Gandalf's cart at the start of Fellowship of the Ring. Which, coincidentally, is the same one that Bilbo runs through yelling out that he's going on an adventure in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:
That led us into a cluster of small sized hobbit holes. They have small ones and big ones, you see, so that they can film both sets of shots.
Each one is completely individual. The attention to detail is astonishing, and the gardens are beautifully maintained.
Across the village green and up a small rise, we came to the larger sized hobbit holes, and a view across Hobbiton as a whole:
At the top of the hill, there were hobbit holes of each size where we could go right up to the front doors. Obviously, I took advantage of the situation for photos:
At the top of the hill was the biggest and most fabulous hobbit hole of all. And, for some bizarre reason, I was the only person on the tour (or at least the only one on the tour who would admit it) who knew who lived in this particular hobbit hole. Because, you know, it's SO TRICKY:
Bag End is the only hobbit hole that actually has an interior, purely because they had to have shots where either Bilbo or Frodo was standing in the doorway and you could see down the passage behind them.
Down the other side of the hill, we came to this fabulous signpost:
And then to the field where Bilbo's 111th birthday party is held, which gives a great view back to Bag End, and the massive tree on top of it. Said tree, you'll be interested to know, is entirely fake. The leaves were individually spray painted and wired on by a team of university students, and when Peter Jackson decided the colour wasn't quite right, they had to go back and spray paint them all again. Good grief. (Still, it looks pretty amazing)
Off to one side of the party field (which was basically just a field, hence the lack of photos) was Sam's house. Usually, you'd be able to go up to the fence but the day we were there, the gardeners were doing some work (how appropriate!), so I had to make do with this instead:
And then it was off on a little walk around the lake-y pond-y thing to the Green Dragon for a well earned drink (it was surprisingly warm in the sun):
It was a completely fabulous couple of hours, and I'd recommend it in a second. It's not cheap by any means. But it's TOTALLY worth the time and money.
Next up, we head to Rotorua and all its associated stinkiness!
Hands up if you'd fangirl over a visit to Hobbiton as much as I did?