Visiting Hobbiton!

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (43)

Oh, Hobbiton.

A place where fantasy blurs with reality and where wonder comes to life. A place where you can run through the Shire just like Bilbo did, yelling "I'm going on an adventure!" and where you really feel like maybe you are, too.

Hobbiton, where you can knock on the tiny doors and half expect a hobbit to poke its head out and ask you why you're bothering them. You can hang out under the party tree in the field. You can skip across the stone bridge to the Green Dragon for a refreshing glass of ginger beer.

We spent a most glorious morning visiting Hobbiton, where the original movie set from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit has been preserved in partnership between Peter Jackson (the producer) and the Alexander family (who own the 1200 acre farm on which the set resides) to last for generations of LOTR fans to come and explore.

The tour runs for two hours. The tour begins with a short bus ride from the Shire's Rest (the visitor's centre) through rolling hills to the movie set. You arrive at the entrance to Hobbiton, where a sign proudly pronounces just that.

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)

Then, you are expertly guided up and down the little paths, beginning first with the high-walled trail both where Gandalf comes riding along in his horse and cart just before Frodo declares that he's late and where Bilbo, in The Hobbit, runs out of the Shire declaring he is off on an adventure.

More than forty hobbit holes are preserved among the rolling hills of the farm in varying colours with all sorts of knick-knacks on display outside the homes. Each demonstrates what the residing hobbit does - from fishing to painting and baking to wood chopping.

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (43)

At the top of the hill, nestled under the famous oak tree (which is actually fake and was created just for the films!), you'll find Bag End with the Baggins' home. It's one of the few that has an open door with a few small props to signify the inside of the home. In truth, all the filming inside any of the hobbit holes was done in a studio in Wellington, but it's sweet to imagine that actually, they're all right here.

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Looking up at Bag End

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)

Looking down at the Shire

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)

Looking across to the Green Dragon

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
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The Baggins' hobbit hole!

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)

Then, you'll walk back down the hill past a few more holes and across the party field with the massive party tree, where Gandalf ignites his famous fireworks for Bilbo's 111th birthday! You can almost hear the merry chatter in the distance!

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (22)

Then, you'll cross the stone bridge past the mill, the water wheel steadily turning for all eternity, to the Green Dragon. Here, joyful music welcomes you inside where a roaring fire, plenty of comfy seating and a drink of ginger beer awaits!

A different tour option includes an evening banquet at the Green Dragon - an experience I'd love to participate in to share in happy conversation over a massive shared meal, much as the hobbits must have done.

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (1)

At the end, you'll head back the way you came, passing the lake with an incredible reflection of the Shire, famously seen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It's a delightful way to reflect back on the fantasy you just got to experience.

jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (39)
jana meerman hobbiton new zealand (39)

The bus then drops you back at the Shire's Rest where, if you so please, you can browse the gift shop and cafe.

I must say, this tour was worth every penny. The magic came alive for a just a few moments under the sunshine. We were also exceptionally lucky to visit just as the tour reopened after the COVID-19 lock down. We were on one of just six tours operating that day which meant that less than 250 people visited the Shire the day we did. For comparison, in the high season, 100 tours run each day which means ~3500 visitors on the set each day. Lucky, to say the least!

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