When I first learned my husband was taking us to New Zealand, Hobbiton was the first place I searched online.
Everything I saw made me even more excited for the trip; I mean, Hobbiton always seemed like a bucket list item I would never cross off and here I was, looking at the pictures knowing I would see it with my own eyes in just a few short months!
There was so much info out there, however, that I hesitated to write my post, but I felt there were a few things that caught me off-guard about Hobbiton and wanted to list those for anyone else planning to visit.
So, here is my list of the good and the not-so-good:
1. It was even more beautiful than I imagined.
One of the things about Hobbiton that takes your breath away is that you truly feel you are separated from the rest of the world. Standing in the middle of the 12-acre property, you are hard-pressed to find traces of technology. The only poles on the hills are the ones directing you towards the different parts of the Shire or lighting your way at dusk. 🙂
And, if you get the chance to lag behind your group, you will earn a treat of hearing the birds chirping, the wind through the trees and the rustling of the knee-high grass in the distance. It’s an amazing sensation, one that makes you wish you could stay there indefinitely!
2. You cannot venture through on your own.
This was perhaps, the most disappointing aspect of the tour. Yes, you want to hear all the neat little details of the set and how Peter Jackson created Hobbiton, something you can only learn from your tour guide, but if you’re like me, you will want to capture the trip through the lens of your camera. The only way to do that is to let the group get ahead of you and take your shots as fast as you can before the next group arrives.
This will usually mean you’ll miss a good portion of the details your guide is sharing with the rest of the group. To me, the pictures were more important. I wasn’t the only one, it seemed a fellow photo enthusiast and I were always running to catch up to our group and Steve and the man’s girlfriend were always waiting to fill us in on what we missed. haha!
3. This place is real.
I don’t want to spoil too many of the juicy details you’ll learn on your tour, but if you are on the fence about whether or not it’s worth your time, let me just tell you, the set is so real, they even bring in fresh vegetables for the tables, the gardens are actual gardens and the structures are made from building materials meant to last.
There are only a few things that are synthetic, which I won’t divulge on here as they are things you have to see to believe. The one disappointing thing not real is the actual Hobbit homes. You cannot go inside one and see a long hallway branching off into circular corridors leading to cozy Hobbit rooms. 🙁
(There was talk of Hobbit Hotels while we were there, so maybe one day…)
4. You might meet people from the movie.
No, I’m not meaning Elijah Wood or Ian McKellen, but many of the people who acted as extras or Hobbits stayed on to work the Shire after filming was over. Our bus driver worked in several capacities on set and our tour guide was one of the Hobbit children from the movie. I thought that was pretty cool!
Who knows, maybe even this little guy made an appearance at some point! 🙂
5. They’re serious about the details.
I mentioned the fact that most everything is real, but that is only part of the magic that makes up Hobbiton. Every single Hobbit home (on the outside, at least) is crafted in such a way that you can tell what that Hobbit did for a living.
Everything, from the trinkets left outside to the mailbox on the fencepost, offers little hints as to the nature of the Hobbit who “lives” there.
But that’s not the half of it. You are meant to feel transported while in Hobbiton. You are to experience this world as if it truly exists and for the time you have allocated to your tour, you truly feel like you just might see Bilbo peeking through his window at you or spy a child running through the grass on yonder hill.
This magic doesn’t happen on its own though, they have an army of skilled people who work tirelessly to bring the place to life every day for those of us who make the journey to visit. We saw people painting designs on doors, gardeners weeding the pumpkins and designers making sure the little touches stood out to the keen eye.
6. Consider reserving a feast.
We did not take the tour that included a meal because the prices are quite high and we had a lot of things we wanted to see and do while in Rotorua, (you can check those things out here) but if you have the money, I think the feast would make for a memorable time.
They also offer a night tour which sounds like it would be just as magical to view the cozy lights through the windows and smell the wood burning from the chimneys poking out of their green hills. Yes, they really do have this ambiance provided for those taking that tour! Details, I’m telling you!
(Little known fact: You can get married in Hobbiton!)
7. Your time goes fast.
Depending on the tour, (ours was two hours, leaving from the gift shop and returning) you may feel rushed. The Hobbiton tour ends at the Green Dragon where you receive a complimentary beverage but they also have the option of ordering a sandwich, only we didn’t have time.
By the time we returned to the gift shop, we were told our bus back to town was leaving in 15 minutes. I had a list of souvenirs to purchase so Steve and I split up and barely had enough time to buy what we wanted and catch our bus.
Even though the gift shop was not large, we would have preferred more time to shop. If we get the chance to return, we will definitely drive to the movie set.
8. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you are a fan of the LOTR or The Hobbit, you will not want to miss this opportunity. It really is unique and we are so glad we went, even with the things that were a bit of a downer. Let me just say, if you are not into the movies, I think you would still appreciate the beauty of the set and who knows, you may even leave a converted Tolkien fan after all! 🙂
Here is the video we put together of our trip through Hobbiton:
Is Hobbiton on YOUR bucket list? I’d love to hear your questions/comments in the comment section below!