In Search of Hobbits
edited: Monday, January 10, 2005
By Annette Gisby
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2005
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A Small Adventure
We couldn't very well visit New Zealand without seeing some of the Lord of the Rings film locations and the small town of Matamata in the North Island was our first chance to do just that.
All either of us knew was that if was filmed on a sheep farm near there, but that was about it. My husband John was doing the driving and I was navigating with a map we'd bought a few days before in Auckland.
The map did have Lord of the Rings locations marked on it with a golden ring, but places still seemed to take a bit of finding.
"What does the map say?" asked John.
"It just says 'Matamata' for 'Hobbiton'," I replied, which wasn't much help as we both knew the location was somewhere outside of the town, not in it.
We decided to go into the town and see if they had a tourist information centre with staff who would know where the location was.
As we drove into town, we did see an information sign indicating that the tourist centre was three hundred metres ahead. Three hundred metres ahead of us was a car park and a building that looked like it was either being demolished or being built, we weren't sure which.
We'd lost all signs for a tourist information centre and wondered if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Since the town was fairly small, that didn't seem likely.
We decided the best thing to do was to have a look round the town and see if we came across anything that looked likely. It took about ten minutes and we returned to the car park from a different direction and there we saw the information centre.
Plastered across the windows in large gold letters were the words 'Hobbiton Tours'. At last!
We discovered that even if we had known which direction to go, you couldn't visit the site unless it was with a guilded tour as the land is privately owned and still part of a working sheep farm.
We were just in time for the second to last tour of the day and our group had about 15-20 people in it, although the bus to the site could probably seat about forty.
Once at the site, it was off the bus and then a guided walking tour through the Shire and Hobbiton. Of course most of it has been returned to its natural state of rolling hills and lots of sheep, but there are quite a few Hobbit holes left, including Bag End, Frod and Bilbo's house in the Shire.
It drizzled constantly, but it did nothing to dampen anyone's spirit, everyone was smiling and excited that they were actually visiting the Shire. John and I decided quite quickly that we could happily live there. It was just so peaceful. You coild see why they wanted to film the Shire there.
You really did feel as if you were walking through the village of Hobbiton, not a film set, despite the Hobbit holes only having plain wooden facades now, and no pretty gardens or brightly painted doors. It's just the sense of the place.
Our guide Theresa pointed out the various areas where some of the structures had been which were no longer there. There weren't meant to be any left at all, but before the rest were taken down there was a very bad rainstorm and it was deemed too dangerous to remove the rest, so there are about eighteen Hobbit holes left in all and since the party tree was a structure already on the farm, it's still there too.
Once we arrived at the steps to Bag End, Theresa mentioned that once a girl had kissed the top step becasue Elijah Wood had once stood there!
"I wouldn't recommend it," said Theresa. "There've been a lot of sheep walking about here since then!"
Despite her warning, there were a few people who seemed to be considering it (okay, about every female over the age of twelve!)
Of course, as you may know, Hobbits are very shy of us Big Folk, so don't expect to see any on your trip. But if you're very quiet and look closely, you might just get lucky.
For more information on the tours, please visit the Hobbiton Tours website: