Probably one of the main reasons for me going to New Zealand is my massive obsession with Lord of the Rings, so naturally visiting Hobbiton in Matamata was high on my list of things to do there. I signed up for the tour from Rotorua, which included an hour bus there and back. And quite fortunately on the way in I was the only person on the bus so I got to hear a lot of interesting stories about the place from the driver, like how Warner Brothers were very tight on the place in terms of the image, which is why you aren’t allowed to interact with any of the props on the site (they were used in the filming) and he told me a story about how all the staff would sometimes have little parties inside the hobbit holes with candles etc. but when a picture surfaced online of a candle being seen from inside Bag End they were on it like a rash and it had to be removed and staff were severely disciplined etc. I also found out how the reason the permanent structures were put in after the filming of the hobbit but not after Lord of the Rings was because the owner of the land wouldn’t allow Peter Jackson to use the property again unless they were made permanent so he could run the tourists tours. Leading to what we have today which is the tour operation, which is partly owned by the landowner, Warner Brothers and also Peter Jackson himself if the story is true.
So the actual tour was absolutely amazing, loved it. It’s quite surreal to think that they actually filmed the movies here and everything is a lot smaller then what you would think in your head because the size ratios are all different in order to get it to look right in the film with full grown people portraying midgets etc. It would be cool if you could just go around on your own but your not really allowed to do this and they are pretty tight on it in case there is any damage or anything like that, but the guide was pretty good for making sure everyone got pictures. And I had with me my Old Toby pipe so got some good pictures outside of Bag End with that. The guide was very jealous and tried to buy it off me but naturally I refused, I then had half the people on the tour group then asking to borrow it for their own pictures which got a little annoying after a while as I do actually use the thing to smoke from and don’t really want some random Italians slaver all over my pipe. And as we went round the guide would ask some LOTR “general knowledge” questions which I obviously bossed and answered all of them…I’m such a geek but I’m not ashamed.
The final stop on the tour is at the Prancing Pony, which unlike everything else has actually been fitted out on the inside as well as the outside like it was in the movies, and you get a free pint of beer that was specifically brewed for the movies. I bought a bottle in gift shop after for the mantelpiece back home as well!
All in all awesome trip and one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand. The geek that I am, I plan to go back again in a couple years when I go back to New Zealand and hopefully by then they will have fitted out the inside of Bag End as well, (which there has been talk that they will do)