Our journey has been going on long and was arduous. Looking on our map of Middle Earth for another possible haven for the next day, we found that the shire and Hobbiton lies just on our way from Rivendell to Auckland. Here look for yourself:
|map taken from here|
So on we went with recently fixed Roachmobile. We did not stop very often, we knew the Ringwraiths were on our trail and eventually the next day we reached:
Matamata / Hobbiton
Matamata is a small town south of Auckland that recently got famous when it was chosen to be the host town for Hobbiton. It can be easily seen just how proud the people of the town are about that. Look at above picture of the city sign greeting guests and visitors or below the new name of the local newspaper:
Even the tourist centre building looks like a big hobbit hole. In our guide book Hobbiton always remained a little mysterious. At all the other locations we had visited up to this point, nothing remained of the original set. But in the chapter talking about Hobbiton nothing was mentioned in the like of: the location of the former set, or, it can easily be imagined that here once stood...
On the other hand it also didn't contain a contrary statement saying that anything was left. So we didn't know for sure, but our hopes were high, when we entered the tourist info below:
It is the first tour we booked. If you read through our blog, you know that we had to leave out many locations, because they were on private land and only accessible by private tours. But this time we scrapped our last money together, because we might really be able to see Hobbiton, damn it!
Even more! The women at the info counter kept saying how lucky we were to show up at this time. More mysteries! What is going on in Hobbiton? Now we really had to find out! We booked the tour, waited outside the hobbit hole above and entered the arriving hobbit bus below:
When the tour guide greeted us on the bus the mysteries were eventually solved. After some trivia about Matamata we finally were told:
- the Hobbition movie set is the only movie set in New Zealand that was not dissolved due to some funny circumstances
- it is currently being completely rebuilt and refurbished for the upcoming Hobbit movie
Now comes the downside of it. Because of the upcoming movie and filming, we had to sign a declaration prohibiting us from publishing or sharing any photos we have taken during the tour. :/
Suffice it to say that it was amazing! Hobbiton is unique in so far that it is not composed of several places set together for impressions in a movie, but that it is one real village so far off from human civilization, that no matter where you stand you will only see Hobbiton and the shire. No traces of humans. Hobbition has become a real village.
It is amazing how much love for detail the set guys put into their work. We saw a girl painting little black ruse on all the chimneys of the hobbit holes, so you get the impression that they have been is use very often. We also saw a real miniature garden with small vegetables, honeycombs and each hobbit hole had its own little unique mailbox. They made some new hobbit holes for the movie, which they made so deep, that later you will be able to actually rent and sleep in them!
They also rebuilt the brandywine bridge. This time they used real stone and old bridge building techniques. (The first bridge was made our of plastic). Thus the new bridge should last for centuries! Also we found the place with the party tree and the big open area, where Bilbo held his 111 birthday party! It is all really there.
If you have the chance to visit Matamata before or after the filming, while the set is still as complete as it is now, do it! You can check the tour provider's website here. Godspeed.