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  • Writer's pictureAderyn Wood

A Journey to Hobbiton

Recently I ticked off a major item on my bucket list by embarking on an adventure to the Hobbiton movie set. Nestled amidst rolling hills (just outside Rotorua in New Zealand), this enchanting location brought to life J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved Middle-earth with astonishing precision.

As we drove the winding and custom-built road (built by the NZ army) and Hobbiton came into view, a sense of awe washed over me and my twenty fellows on the bus – all visitors are divided into tour groups which are bussed in. Unlike other theme parks, where commercialisation and artificial cheer dominate, Hobbiton exudes a genuine fantastical atmosphere that immersed us in the wonders of Tolkien's imagination. It felt like entering a realm untouched by the trappings of modernity.

We were all amazed at the attention to detail showcased in every nook and cranny. From the intricately carved doors and windows to the colourful gardens bursting with vibrant flowers, each hobbit hole exuded an authentic charm. Unlike the original movie set, this replica (built specifically for tourists) is constructed of genuine wood, stone and brick, no plastic in sight. The absence of a manufactured ambiance allows one to imagine the existence of hobbits and their idyllic way of life. We were informed that a team of set designers tend the hobbit holes, dusting and arranging window dressings, and trimming the gardens on an almost daily basis.

The journey through Hobbiton was meticulously organised and well-timed. Our tour guides, who demonstrated a thorough and passionate knowledge of Tolkien's world, led us through the enchanting paths, sharing captivating anecdotes about the filming process and Peter Jackson’s artistic vision. Their dedication added an extra layer of interest to the experience.

No visit to Hobbiton would be complete without basking in the shade of the Party Tree, where merry hobbits celebrated Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday. It stood as a grand sentinel, its branches spanning wide and sheltering us beneath its magnificent canopy. Following the trail, we made our way to the Green Dragon Inn, a cosy haven that exuded warmth and camaraderie with more meticulous detail in the carved beams and hobbit décor, and I enjoyed a ginger beer by the fire.

For any dedicated fantasy reader, the Hobbiton movie set evokes a profound sense of nostalgia and emotional resonance. It's the realisation of a dream, a tangible reminder of the literary wonders that have captured our hearts for generations. Each corner I explored, from Bag End to the rolling hills, resonated with the echoes of Tolkien's tales, making it a truly authentic and unforgettable experience.

In the midst of my visit to Hobbiton, I couldn't help but appreciate the stark contrast to other commercialised attractions. Here, the genuine love for Tolkien's world shone through, creating an atmosphere that any fantasy fan would soak up with delight.

One section of Hobbiton was closed off as it was under construction. We were happy to learn that a life-sized, fully functional hobbit hole will be complete by the end of 2023. Looks like I’ll have to go back.

An artistic impression of the fully functional hobbit hole currently in construction.

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