To say that I am a Lord of the Rings fan would be a rather major understatement. I am obsessive. I have got the extended DVD collection and have watched the entire thing numerous times, commentaries and special features included. Thus, when the opportunity to travel around the world came up and I started thinking of the places I would like to visit, New Zealand swiftly jumped to the top of the list. There were other reasons for this of course, but I would be lying if I said that the land of the Tolkien trilogy was not an influencing factor in my decision.
There was not a chance, having decided to visit New Zealand, that I was going to miss out on seeing Hobbiton, the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and all of their little hobbit friends. I nearly wet myself at the thought of wandering the lanes and frolicking in the fields of the Shire. I had heard of this mythical place where the vision of Tolkien’s Middle Earth spreads out before you and I wanted to visit it. I told you I was obsessed right?
Access to Hobbiton comes via a 1.5 hour bus trip from Rotorua. You have no choice but to go on a guided tour of the hobbit village which sets you back a not insubstantial sum of money and doesn’t give you the freedom to explore to your heart’s content. However, by sneakily hanging back I managed to let the tour go on ahead of me and by doing so was able to walk around free from the throng of people listening to facts about the movie that I knew anyway.
Hobbiton truly is a masterpiece. Over 30 pristine hobbit holes litter the immaculately crafted landscape, each unique down to the last detail. Clothes hang on washing lines and shoes lie outside little round doors, waiting for their owners to pop out and tend to the colourful garden on the porch. When you stand outside Bag End you can almost see Bilbo and Gandalf blowing smoke rings on the little bench in the garden. For the 2 hours that the tour lasts I was in Heaven.
The tour ends with a visit to the Green Dragon, the hobbit’s pub of choice. You get the opportunity to sample a free hobbit-sized (tiny) brew. Before I knew it I was on the bus back to Rotorua and the real world, where hobbits and elves exist only in the imagination and Middle Earth can only be found in the pages of a book.