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The Hobbiton Tour – Day 30
Tuesday 26th April 2005
My short stay at Rotorua had come to an end as the rest of New Zealand beckoned me. I felt in a silly mood this morning as I was off to Hobbiton, one of the places I dearly wanted to see. I hoped it would live up to my expectations, but just being there would be enough to put a big smile on my face.
So off I went after saying goodbye to Jane and Leslie, and to the owner of the hostel, then out onto the open road en-route to Matamata, home of Hobbiton. My first stop today, though, was to Hells Gate, another scene from Lord of the Rings. In all honesty, I have to admit, there was not a lot to see, and it resembled just an ordinary mountain. It was hard to imagine how it looked in the films. So alas, it was a short stop.
The drive continued, and after a short while, I was entering Matamata. A few signs here and there gave clue as to the appeal of this town. Further into the city and the signs were everywhere, detailing the tour of Hobbiton. I located the reception area for the tour and introduced myself. There was no need for such formalities really, as asking for one ticket was all I actually needed to do. I asked the girl what time the next tour was, and she replied “12.00”. This meant nothing to me at the time as I had no idea of the current time. As I was half way into the action of asking what time it was, I spied a large clock right behind the girl on the reception wall. I answered my own question accompanied by an apologetic smile to the girl, who clearly experiences this all the time. Stupid tourists! As it happens, it was 11.55, so only five minutes to wait. Result!!
I hopped on board the coach already parked in the car park, and waited a few minutes for the door to close and the tour to begin. A few others had also joined me, and it was comical to watch as everyone sat equidistant from each other, nobody choosing to sit next to anyone else.
The coach took us to Hobbiton, but we had to cross over onto somebody’s private land to access it, through the gates. Apparently this was a little tedious for the owner of the land during filming, as hundreds of coaches, vans and cars flooded onto the set each day. I’m thankful they did, though, as this is certainly the most ideal location for the Hobbits.
As we arrived on the set, I was instantly amazed at how much I recognised. The reality is, there is not a lot that still remains, yet there is far more than I had expected to see. Many of the holes still remain, with door fronts giving a large clue as to their appearance during the films. Posters stood in places with photos of the land during the filming process, Hobbits and all. It was so easy to imagine it all.
The famous party tree still stands tall, and evidence of Bilbo’s party are still visible all about the place, with pulleys and ribbons still hanging from certain branches used to hold the party banner. It was all so incredible for me, and I loved everything about it.
The guide performed his role well, I thought, with countless stories of how everything came about. One such story detailed how the perfect tree was dug up from elsewhere in New Zealand, chopped up, then sewn back together again above Bilbo’s house. It had to be the perfect tree you see. The tree only made a brief appearance in the film, being visible for 11 seconds, yet so much work went into getting the tree onto the set. The book had the tree in, so the film also had to have it. The tree is now in pieces on the set, and it is fascinating to see how they put it all back together again. They even had to sew additional leaves onto the branches.
The tour came to an end sadly, but I had gained some great knowledge and memories from today. I was very pleased. We got on board the coach again (in exactly the same seats we arrived on), then drove back to the main building. I located my car then set off in the direction of Whitianga, and to Cat’s Pyjamas Backpackers.
This was first time I got really lost trying to find a place, and I ended up driving about quite a bit, but arrived in the end. A small drive into the nearest town gave me my meal for the day, then I came back and watched television with some of the other guests. Tiredness overcame me, so I went to bed, exhausted.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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