Our bus, called Gandalf the White, left The Shires Rest filled with 30 or so LOTR fans and fanatics on the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour this morning. Interestingly, five of us were Kiwis, and we all hailed from Levin. American accents seemed to fill the bus, as there was a group of 15 American engineering students, a sprinkling of older people, and an Asian family on board.
Our guide was Benji and according to OSH regulations, he warned us of the hazards involved. Stay on the paths, all fences are electrified, and keep away from the edge of the pond and the much larger lake – some of his clients had managed to fall right in, he told us, and the water is deeper than it looks. Our first glimpse of a Hobbit house had everyone oohing and aahing in delight. They are so cute! And we all wanted our pictures taken standing in front. It worked quite well, we took one for that couple, and they took one for us, and so on it went.
We didn’t actually see and Hobbits as we walked around, but we certainly saw where they lived. According to Tolkien, they are uncomplicated and ancient little people, shy of Big Folk and preferring well-ordered and well-farmed countryside. They are no more than four feet tall and seldom wear shoes because their feet have tough leathery soles clad in thick, curling hair.
We wandered around, admiring the details in the little houses, from gardens, baskets with veggies piled up, even fish hanging up to dry at the edge of the lake.
The properties were all out of bounds, with just one being the exception. We were permitted to step inside the door for a quick-smart photo stop, and Benji took all the photos, to keep us moving quickly along.
Over the stone bridge we walked, past the thatched mill, and into the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary mug of beer, especially brewed for the tours. (And I don’t usually drink beer – but I made an exception since I was in Hobbiton).
We chatted with a family from Texas, who were doing a 5 day whizz-bang tour of New Zealand before heading back to the States.
Our guide Benji did a great job, full of interesting facts and figures, and stories of some of his more colourful and fanatical customers. His boss doesn’t allow the guides to partake of a mug of beer in the Inn, he told us sadly. Just as well really, when the guides are taking tours all day.
It was a great morning, and we would certainly recommend the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour to anyone, Lord of the Rings fans or not. You won’t see this anywhere else but in Matamata, New Zealand..