for those who don’t know me as well, i am in love with the lord of the rings + the hobbit. i love the books, i love the movies, i love the characters, i love the locations, i love the messages that the stories leave us with.
it’s no surprise, then, that when i decided to study in new zealand, visiting hobbiton was a top priority. after all, i’ve already got the height to be a hobbit… all i needed was a hobbit hole to fulfill my destiny.
so i found one. or forty-four, to be exact.
on saturday, i boarded a plane bound for auckland with nothing but a carry-on, a somewhat pathetic amount of excitement about seeing hobbiton in less than 24 hours, and my adventure buddy for the weekend, molly. after just over two hours, we touched down — i was on the north island for the first time since first arriving in new zealand. ironically, as we checked into our hostel and made our way to our room, i discovered that we were staying in the exact same room in the exact same hostel as i’d been in in february.
our evening didn’t last long; we went to bed fairly quickly, seeing as we were both pretty excited to get to hobbiton the next morning.
sunday was the day that my life-long dream of seeing the set of hobbiton was brought to life. after a two and a half hour bus ride from auckland to matamata, we finally pulled into the alexander farm. our tour guide, whose name i cannot remember for my life (sorry, mate) — update: molly remembered, it was damian — was more than enthusiastic and willing to share fun facts and trivia along the way. did you know that peter jackson’s location scout almost missed finding the alexander farm, and hobbiton, because ian alexander was a rugby fanatic & refused to talk to him during the match he was watching? now you do.
i admit, a tour with thirty-some people vying for photo ops isn’t the most magical scenario possible when you’re visiting somewhere that’s been on your bucket list for years. but luckily, damian was extremely accommodating to all of our photographic desires, and i now have more photos of hobbit holes and the shire than i could have dreamed (see my gallery page).
damian’s love for lord of the rings + the hobbit outshone my own, admittedly, as he pointed out spots of importance & explained the ins-and-outs of making hobbiton feel like people really lived them. from where bilbo ran out of hobbiton shouting, “i’m going on an adventure!” to where gandalf met frodo just outside the village, it became even easier to imagine hobbiton as a real, although still entirely magical, place. he also gave us full explanations of how they managed to convey such drastic height differences, how to make it look as though people traveled the paths of the shire a mere couple of weeks before filming began, and more (i now accept that i’m not cut out to work on a movie set, as simple things such as manipulating depth perception and building doors of different sizes came as a complete surprise to me).
i could go on and on about our walk through the village, about the amazing doors, furniture, and accessories that adorned the area, and more, but i’d be embarrassing myself by showing just how geeked and hyper-aware i was. let’s just say, i don’t think i stopped smiling or pointing at things the entire time i was there.
i will, however, touch briefly upon how amazing the refreshments at the green dragon were. it’s no wonder the hobbits loved to drink and party as much as they did, seeing as the food, as well as the cider and beer, was absolutely amazing. i’d live in a hole in the ground any day if it meant i could drink and eat like that.
our tour in hobbiton didn’t last long, just a few hours, and getting on the bus to go home admittedly made me a little blue. i’d be lying if i said i didn’t text my mom and tell her i’d already applied for a work visa so that i could stay there forever. but, i couldn’t have asked for a better adventure than the one i had in the shire.
nothing could beat hobbiton. but after leaving, we made our way to the waitomo glowworm caves. a fellow yogi at bliss flow told me, over the holidays, that if i was going to new zealand, going to the glowworm caves was a must. although i didn’t get to do the blackwater rafting (a college girl’s budget after a semester abroad isn’t exactly bottomless), she was absolutely right; the boat ride through the caves was absolutely magical.
no cameras were allowed, but truly, no camera could even come close to doing it justice. it’s like trying to capture the stars, or a sunset — try as you might, it’s just better to lay back and soak it all in, in the moment. thousands of delicate turquoise-y blue filaments hung from the ceilings, lighting up the pitch-dark cave in a seriously out-of-this-world glow.
hobbits may, by nature, hate adventure. and while i do love both my breakfasts, elevenses, dinner, and every meal in between, i have to tip my hat to bilbo, frodo, & samwise for being willing to be late to dinner. their heart & courage inspired me throughout my journey in middle earth (okay, maybe i’m getting a little too fangirl — new zealand) in the first place, and for that, i owe them everything.
even though my trip to hobbiton fell at the end of this amazing, unforgettable semester, it has truly been a part of my entire time here. “all’s well that ends better,” j.r.r. tolkien wrote. this semester was amazing, and my adventures have made it even better & more memorable than i could have imagined when i boarded my flight in february. i will hold this experience in my heart, forever.
photos from my travels will be available on my gallery page.
special thanks go out to my grandparents, mike & jackie, for helping to make this trip possible. kia ora! ♥