WARNING: This is a tale of how I dragged my beloved to the movie set of Lord of the Rings. Leave now if you are not a fan – author is not responsible for any boredom that might ensue due to non-love-for-all-things-Lord-of-the-Rings.
Still here? Great!
You see, I am a fan. No wait…..I’m a serious fan. Don’t ask me how many times I have seen the movies because I stopped counting after 15. Before we came to New Zealand, I knew that I could not leave without visiting at least one of the Lord of the Rings movie filming locations. We made a trip down to Rotorua and I insisted upon asked Lauren B. if we could go see Hobbiton, aka The Shire. Despite his lack of love for the franchise, he said “yes”.
We took a bus to the farm that Hobbiton is on. The farm belongs to a private citizen who has leased the land to the LOTR. As the bus neared the property, I could instantly see why this place appealed to Peter Jackson – lush green rolling hills for as far as the eye could see. I had originally thought that there were only a few hobbit homes built for the movie. Boy was I wrong. There are around 30 – and they are everywhere! It truly is a little town.
When we got off the bus, we met our guide – a spunky young kiwi gal whose love for her job made her an awesome guide. She rounded us up and we commenced our walk through Hobbiton.
“You had to be shorter than 5’2 to be a hobbit,” she said. “One time we had a guy who was at least 6’2 come to Hobbiton from Germany. He was dressed like a hobbit and when the tour was over he refused to leave! He said ‘This is my home, I will not leave’. Eventually they convinced him that he had to go.”
We walked a dirt path along the little hobbit homes of the Shire. The first one we came across was the location of the opening scene of Fellowship of the Ring where Gandolph is in the carriage and Frodo runs up to him. We walked up to the hobbit home and our guide pointed to a little sign on the mailbox. “See this? This symbol indicates what trade this Hobbit does. “ For example, if the hobbit that lived in the home was a carpenter, then there might be a hammer painted on his mailbox.
Each home was exquisitely detailed and thought out…just like the mailboxes. There were bunches of herbs laying outside, and miniature everything. Someone asked if we could go inside, and we learned that there is no inside. In each home, there is only enough room to go in and close the door. The scenes that took place inside Bags End, Bilbo’s home in the movie, were filmed in a studio on Wellington.
About midway through Hobbiton we came across a large tree. I recognized the tree from the part in the movie where they have Bilbo’s party – when he disappears. It is known on the set as “party tree.”
It was a fine day – Lauren B was a champ. He survived with only a few scrapes and bruises. And best of all, we went just a couple days after they lifted the copyright restriction which means we get to share this story and these photos with you!