“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”-J.R.R. Tolkien
Adding to my list of reasons to love New Zealand is the joyous Hobbiton™ The Movie Set.
Mike and I spent our last three days in New Zealand on the North Island. We used Auckland as our home base, then ventured out on a couple of tours. Hobbiton was at the top of our list.
Director Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit movies throughout New Zealand, but he also created a gorgeous movie set on a 1,250 acre private farm in Matamata.
In 2010, the temporary movie set gave way to permanent structures and Hobbiton now draws tourists from around the world.
The 12-acre set captures the magic of the movies and books. The walking tour fully immerses you in the experience.
For this lover of books, movies, theater and gardening, Hobbiton has it all. If I could wave my fairy wand, I would take the tour a second time, but in slow motion. There is so much to take in and so many exquisite details.
Here is a taste of some of the movie magic:
- The Hobbit-hole facades are in different scales. Scale varies from 30 to 80 percent. A full-sized actor in front of a 30 percent scale set looks huge. This allows for the use of forced-perspective.
- In order to age the materials, set designers soak the wood fence posts in vinegar, then splatter the planks with blue paint, yogurt and wood chips. Soaking the wood in vinegar causes it to expand, then contract with a slight warp. Flecks of blue paint add to the aging process and the yogurt, a natural bacteria, allows lichen and moss to grow along the boards. Magical!
- Each Hobbit-hole has its own garden along with props to indicate what the Hobbit does for a living. We meandered past the Hobbit holes of farmers, bakers, and homemakers. I delighted in the wee washing hung on the line, and the charming mailboxes, wheelbarrows and wind-chimes that make a house a home.
What I didn’t expect and absolutely loved were the individual gardens. Hobbit-holes face out of the hillside with sloping, earthen green roofs. Flowers grow along the fence, up the side of the house and in planting boxes.
Some of the holes have real vegetable gardens and in the middle of the Shire, pumpkin vines give way to magnificent fruit. You all know how I feel about pumpkins.
Hobbiton employs dozens of landscapers and gardeners to keep things looking authentic. Maybe we can get jobs here, too?
Since the gardens are real, so are the visitors. I spotted bees, butterflies and birds throughout the tour. Aren’t they magnificent?
As the tour drew to a close, we learned that one of the trees pictured below is a fake. Can you spot it?
Updated April 23, 2018. You can learn the answer by following this link.
Our tour ended as we crossed the bridge leading to the inn. The barkeeper offered us a choice of local ale or ginger beer, then we had lunch in a big tent.
Could it get any better than this?
I almost forgot to mention Pickles the resident cat. We found him like this, eyes closed, paws outstretched, resting by a warm fire.