I knew I liked watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But what I didn't expect, was how I would attach myself to the Hobbit- like a moth to a big, warm light. You can't help but root for Bilbo in all of his naive hobbity self. I quickly learned that if you tell anyone you are planning on visiting New Zealand, a conversation about LOTR is going to happen. Typically, it's within some semblance of: epic scenery, Milford Sound, Lord of the Rings, kiwis, and extreme sports, in no particular order. It was a no brainer- we knew we had to visit the Shire to see the wondrous sight for ourselves.
Me: Notices car drifting too close to the left shoulder, touching the road line
Me: "Hey, LINE"
Husband: Dutifully adjusts
Me: Back to sleep, then wakes up several moments later..."LINE"
Husband: Begrudgingly adjusts
Me: Nods off for a few minutes
...that went on for 2 hours until we got to Cambridge, where we were staying. We arrived in the middle of a meaty downpour, which New Zealanders are clearly not phased by. The grandchildren of the Earthstead Villas hosts were happily splashing around, calling out to each other in their adorable accents.
New Zealanders: Soaked? No worries.
Me: Awkwardly cowering underneath my hoodie and yellow slicker, hopping around puddles like they were hot pools of lava.
We had a lengthy chat with the undeniably affable owner Alastair, who smiled broadly at our every response. He's the kind of person who is clearly living the dream. Their farm and home is completely magical... just check out the breakfast we ate. Freshly churned butter, milk from the cow over there, honey from the beehive, bread baked by his co-owner and wife Susie...
After we were settled, I gingerly observed my husband attempt to MacGyver coffee into tea satchels because we couldn't figure out how to work the french press. Let's just say our efforts were futile, so we headed out to Hobbiton un-caffeinated.
The Shire is built smack dab in the middle of an existing family farm. After the movie came and went, this family saw the business opportunity and renovated for tourism. Their family cat "Pickles", has gone along for the crazy ride and is a regular fixture there; either sleeping by the fire in the Green Dragon Inn or greeting visitors as they enter.
All of the hobbit homes are facades, except for one hole where the door swings open just enough to go inside and snap a picture. Upkeep requires an insane amount of gardening and work, but let me assure you, this place is on point. Some of the knick knacks and vegetables are props, but a lot are also genuine. Even the little mini gardens outside of some of the homes are real. Pickles the cat must be in heaven here.
Our evening rounded out with a final tour of the Shire by lantern, a little group dancing-jig session by the party tree, and one last look at the glowing village. Hobbiton truly lived up to, and exceeded my expectations. The feast is a must-do. Be sure you plan your visit accordingly to make it happen. My single regret of the day was not purchasing this Gollum figurine (what a gem) in the gift shop. Alas, such is life.
Next Up: Waitomo and Auckland
Came from: Queenstown and Milford Sound
Before That: Waiheke Island and Auckland