Monday, December 17, 2018

Sites : Hobbiton New Zealand

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Hobbiton New Zealand
Matamata, North Island, New Zealand - October 2018
For those who like the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand is a must! We were on a multi-mode cycling tour there, and took a break from our cycling  to visit this Mecca for the movie fans.

To visit the place, the easiest is to join one of their organized tours that starts from the Shire's Rest Cafe near Matamata. There are guided tours that starts from the Matamata Visitor Information Centre and from Rotorua too. The tour tickets from Shire's Rest & the Matmata I-Centre cost NZD84 per adult; from Rotorua it's NZD119. Tours depart daily from 9am until 3:30pm and last for about two hours (i.e. from Shire's Rest). There are extended closing time during summer and winter.
(Click here to go to the official tour booking site)
One must not try not to be late as a replacement tour may not be on the same day as the place is extremely busy and each tour has a limited capacity - as they do not want too many people to be wandering around Hobbiton at the same time in order to protect it. For this reason, there are no unguided tour or free and easy entry. Anyway it's more fun with the guide as they are wise to the ways of the Hobbits 😊.

Hobbiton covering about 20 acres, is located within the 2,000 acre farm belonging to the Alexander family. From the Shire's Rest, the bus will go on 2 km. of country roads, passing through grazing land set amidst rolling green hills. It's a lovely view that seemed to have leapt out from the movie!

Don't be surprised to pass by grazing sheep and cows as Alexander's farm is an operational farm that had up to 13,500 sheep and around 400 cattle.

Towards the end of the bus journey Hobbiton comes into view; one feels like jumping out from the bus and going tra-la-la bouncing over to the village, unfortunately that's not allowed unless one has an Invisible Cloak or a vial of magic invisible dust to stealth your way in.

Psssst! Before you go in, perhaps I could interest you in one of these rare magical maps that will ensure that one will not get lost in the 20-acre shire. I got it from one of those lithe Thief!

Entering the Shire, one will notice a small hill at one end with a tall tree located at Bag End; that tree is not a real tree, it's not a magical tree either. It's a fake tree made by magical elves from Toy-One (Taiwan in Muggle speak). The tree leaves were of the wrong colour and had to be slowly repainted one-by-one by the Toy-One elves to get it right.

From the hill top and down the slopes to the dale can be seen the brightly painted front of the hobbit holes.(that's what hobbit houses are called as they are built into holes dug out from a slope). Most of the holes are covered by grassy earth and some chimneys could be seen sticking out from the ground.

Use those as a guide and don't go walking on those mounds lest one comes tumbling down through a broken roof onto a grumbling hobbit. Actually the holes are strong, but you wouldn't want somebody to be walking on top of your house unless he's Santa Claus, right?

Often a few holes could share the same mound...

The most valuable holes are those right next to The Water lake; not unlike humans, hobbits like riversides or lake sides too, makes going fishing easier...

Don't be fooled by the size of the entrances, the hobbit holes can be quiet large - stretching from the door to windows and onwards to the chimneys far behind.

Let's have a look at some other holes; these three are like smaller link-houses, perhaps they are bachelor pads?

No, they are not bachelor pads; walking closer the nearer two are actually windows. This must be a large mansion, probably belonging to a big timer hobbit as it's located a the top of the hill, it's a hole with a view! The larger hole are called smials and this particular one belongs to Bilbao Baggins.

Down at the dale, the holes belonging to regular hobbits are more mundane yet still colourful.

The hobbits are quite resourceful and space saving; often their clothes lines are on the mounds above their holes. It's okay, it's their house so they can walk on top of it anytime they feel like it.

Sometimes the holes have fences and gates, other time there are none? Is there a reason for that?

Let's have a look at the other hobbit holes; altogether there are forty-four of them in total.

A close up view of the one with the light blue door. Hobbit holes have round doors and often the windows a rounded too.

The entrance roof could be round or triangular, but the doors have to be round.

Some have a additional outdoor lean-to shed, sort of like a work section or a sales section for their business.

Some have outdoor benches to relax in.

And some have an extension with a prominent chimney; perhaps for this hobbit it is his den where the missus is prohibited from entering.

Large or small, the unique thing is that the round doors are of different colours for different holes. Makes them easier to recognize and locate.

Or they could have the same colour door but have a triangular doorway instead rectangular one.

A close up view of the yellow-door hole shows tassels hanging from the doorway.

This one have a blue door with a glazed section.

Nice door, yah?

A yellow-doored hole with a strikingly tall chimney.

Whatever the shape and colour of the holes, the hobbits love flowers, everywhere can be seen colourful flowers.

This hobbit's chimney is elaborate and larger than others. Perhaps he like cooking OR perhaps he's an Italian hobbit who likes to make pizza.

A cozy blue-doored one; this one door's seem to be smaller. Is there such a thing as a dwarf hobbit?

A green-doored one. As mentioned, the door colour makes the holes easier to locate:
"Sam, Uncle Bilbao's hole is the one next to the blue door one with the glazed pane."

Or he could have easily said it's next to the pizza guy!

An elaborate window.

All seems quiet, don't see the hobbits around, they must probably be mundane-shy, hiding indoors as some of the chimneys could be seen smoking.

Okay. let's zoom out and go hunting for the hobbits.....

I see their clothes hanging out.... but where are they?

More clothes and more smoking chimneys, but still don't see them. Perhaps they have gone to work. Let's see how they work...

A carpenter's hole.

This one must belong to a fisherman; stringing up fishes to be smoked.

... and then the green-grocer.

Honey for sale, most of the wares were laid out on tables or counters at the front of the holes.

... and heeeeere's the baker! Oops... it's not, this is the deli-sausage man.

Serious artist at work. Hey! She's no hobbit! Looks like an elfing.

No hobbit, but saw a troll doing some gardening work... perhaps the hobbits are smart now using foreign labour to do the onerous stuff.

A fisher-hobbit left his gutted fish at The Water side.
The counters are there, but still don't see them hobbits! They must really be camera-shy.

... and there's always clothesline almost everywhere. Lovely clothes they have.

Another foreign worker plucking apples. It's a muggle apple-picker doesn't really need that ladder.

Spotted this well from far away.

And a bee-hive... even the hobbit-bees went a-hiding.

The Shire notice board.

Finally, I saw someone....

But it's not a hobbit; it's a scarecrow.... shaped liked a muggle, this scare-muggle MUST REALLY be scary, now wonder there are crows or other birds around.

We were not allowed into any of the hobbit holes except this red-doored one; this is a guest house and visitors can enter and have a look inside.

Some pseudo-hobbits coming out...

But do be careful, a troll could be lurking inside!

Is this a hobbit? .... Nah... it's not, it's that muggle girl apple picker again 😞.

Finally.... a real-life hobbit! .... looking at us from a safe distance, sitting on a wooden bridge.

Okay... okay... we better get out off the way, and leave the hobbits at peace; perhaps they will come out when we are not around.
Where shall we go.... er.... let look at this signpost to guide us.

We espy not far away bigger dwellings fronting a lake.

There are much larger houses there, seems to be ye olde towne hall or something like that. Any way at the front was the lake which was simple called THE WATER.

To get over, we had to cross an arched bridge...
DAMN! It's that troll again, and this time in league with the hobbit and the muggle apple picker, was blocking the way...... need we pay toll to the troll?

Fortunately, they were there for a rest and to view the area too. Just before crossing the bridge is the water mill..

Crossing over the bridge brings one back to the Muggle Land where the dwellings are much larger. The first building is a blacksmith shop.

The next building is more interesting, it's a replica of the Green Dragon Inn, built at a larger scale to fit in muggles. The inn has been fully reconstructed, both inside and out, to give one the opportunity to enjoy the pub in all its splendour.

 Inside is a cozy dining area, also built along rustic lines with wooden walls, ceiling and country tables and chairs.

The tour tickets includes a round of complimentary drink: there's two type of light ale, apple cider and ginger beer. Get it from the barmen at the counter. Feeling thirsty? Go for a few more rounds, but don't forget to pay for them or else the Green Dragon above may come to life and snap at you 😆.

Feeling hungry? There's some snacks that can be purchased from the counter too. Above is the menu that include some pies, cakes, etc.

Settle down for your drink at an alcove with windows that look out back to ....

..... the Shire.

OR just sit at the fireplace and exchange tales.....


501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand.
Tel: +64 7-888 1505
Tour fee: NZD 84/-  (Adults, and includes a pint at the Green Dragon)
Tour Hours: 9:00am to 3:30pm (Check their website for extended summer & winter hours)
Direction Map & GPS: -37.87234, 175.68336

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