Welcome to Day 2 of my ‘Lord of the Roads’ tour, if you haven’t already, then go and check out Day 1.
Let me be up front, I’m usually very selective with the images that I post and keep them to a minimum – but this place was amazing so be prepared to scroll through shit loads of pictures.
Day 2 led me to Matamata, home of the Hobbiton movie set and for me, the highlight of my trip.
The ride down was awesome, surrounded by beautiful scenery and considering it was Easter long-weekend, the roads were almost completely clear.
Perhaps the most iconic set of the Lord of the Ring trilogy, Hobbiton takes around 2 hours to walk through and encompasses every little detail of the initial scenes of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. From Bag End (Bilbo Baggin’s home, shown below), the angry old lady’s house, the huge tree from Bilbo’s 111th birthday party, and the bridge that Gandalf crosses, to the carriage filled with fireworks and Sam’s house from the final film.
The whole tour was to take 2 hours, which seemed like a lot but surprisingly the set was enormous and nothing was off limits. You had to stay with a group, but you could walk the path through the entire set and stop off at all of the highlights to take photos or walk around.
One of the most impressive things about the set is the attention to detail that they went to in order to shoot the movie and those details have been brilliantly maintained to give visitors an incredible experience. The bright flower choices and species of insects make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to The Shire and dropped into a magical location centuries ago.
The effort that Peter Jackson went to to uphold the integrity of Tolkien’s books with immense accuracy was incredible. One of the most impressive stories was how Peter imported Suffolk Sheep from England due to their black faces and legs because “the local sheep were all white and too boring” – the Suffolk’s have since bred and spread across the north island of New Zealand.
A big highlight for me was getting to see Bilbo’s house. It plays such a large role in the initial scenes of the The Fellowship and is possibly the most memorable Hobbit hole. They left the door open for you to peek inside, and I thought the ‘no admittance’ sign still being on the gate was a really nice touch.
The tour culminates in a stop at The Green Dragon Tavern which is the only full interior on the whole set. (When the actors enter a door in the movie, they are magically transported to a studio in Wellington to shoot the indoor scenes.)
From the outside it looks beautiful with it’s thatched roof, ornamental windows and hanging lanterns, but the detail on the inside was incredible. The carvings on the door frames, the hand painted textures walls – even the fire ‘EXIT’ sign was written in a LOTR style font.
After polishing off a home-made Ginger Beer, it was time to saddle up Strider and head on down to Rotorua.
I stopped off to refuel and couldn’t resists taking a snap of the Roadie against the wall of a nearby Repco. Two days in and I’m still loving that 103.
Check back soon for Part 3 where I check out the geo-thermal geysers of Rotorua and head on down to Taupo for a day on the water. Or if you missed it, read Part 1 for the Coromandel and the hot springs.
If you have any questions about this part of the trip, good stop offs or want info about Hobbiton, just post them in the comments below or check in with us on Facebook.