At the first opportunity I had, I went to Hobbiton! The filming location/permanent movie set tours now are just 45 minutes from where I’m staying so it was an absolute priority to get there during my two weeks.
We booked our tour the day before, turned up with plenty of time and checked in. A Hobbiton bus then turned up to pick us up and we met our lovely tour guides, Pip and Anna.
Pip drove us to the set itself through the farm and told us all about how Peter Jackson discovered this location, a very interesting story. And even better – it’s lambing season so there were loads of adorable lambs to gush over as we drove past!
Just a side note: I arrived in New Zealand right at the start of spring and, although the weather is not exactly the best, it means none of the touristy stuff is that busy. At Hobbiton we were in a tour group of just 10, as opposed to the 40-strong groups they get throughout peak season. I’m sure it made the whole experience more relaxed and enjoyable.
Anyway, Anna led us around Hobbiton and its 44 hobbit holes, the party tree/field and more, stopping frequently for photo opportunities and interesting tidbits of information.
As a longtime Lord of the Rings fan (I’ve read all the books plus The Hobbit, plus seen all the films except the latest Hobbit film which I’m behind on) it was really unbelievably cool to see the hobbit holes up close and just the pretty little village altogether. Saying that, I think anyone could appreciate the uniqueness of this tour.
Highlights were Bilbo and Frodo’s home Bag End, complete with ‘no admittance except on party business’ sign, Samwise Gamgee’s yellow hobbit hole, and the big party tree which is stunning amidst the rest of this twee village.
The other main highlight was the Green Dragon pub where everyone gets a free ale, cider or ginger beer brewed especially for Hobbiton by the Good George Brewery. The cider at least was absolutely delicious, something special indeed. In general, the attention to detail inside the pub and ye olde vibe overall was lovely to sit and sip our drinks in for 20 minutes. It was also nice to be visited by Hobbit’s own Pickles the cat by the fireplace.
All in all, I would recommend this Hobbiton tour to anyone who visits New Zealand’s North Island. I was worried it would be underwhelming and disappointing, but Frazer and I both came away with huge smiles on our faces.
To finish the day Frazer and I headed to Mexico, a (you guessed it) Mexican restaurant in Hamilton which was absolutely delicious. They hardly skimped on the quesadillas either – we got about 10 each, and the patatas bravas were amazing too.
We then went to see the new Tom Hanks movie, Sully – considering I’m staying with a load of trainee pilots, how could there not be a group cinema trip? I was pretty exhausted and had to stop myself nodding off but it wasn’t because of the film – it was actually quite gripping, and really interesting to see the story of the Hudson River plane landing from behind the scenes.