Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Today was the excursion we were most looking forward to… a trip to Middle Earth! Hobbiton (the Shire) to be exact.
After a 2 1/2 hour bus ride, we arrived in Shire’s Rest, the entrance to the Hobbiton movie set tour. A tour guide joined our bus and we drove down a road built by the New Zealand Army Corps of Engineers (specifically for the movies). We arrived in a small parking lot, and got off the bus for our guided tour of Hobbiton. It was a little rainy, but the tour provided umbrellas for us to use.
Most of the movie set was recently re-built to film The Hobbit movies. And unlike the original Lord of the Rings set, it was built to be permanent. We walked around the area and the guide pointed out were scenes were filmed. We saw a bunch of hobbit holes, some built to 30% scale and some built to 90% scale to get the correct perspective of hobbit size versus human size. We saw the path Frodo and Gandalf rode down in the beginning of Fellowship, the Party Tree seen during Bilbo’s party, the house Samwise went to at the end of Return of the King, The Green Dragon (the hobbit pub), Bag End (where Bilbo and Frodo lived), and more!
We learned some interesting fun facts about the movies and the set. For example, in Fellowship, in the scene where Sam and Frodo are in the corn field and Sam mentions he has never been further away from home was actually filmed in a field 200 yards away from the Party Tree and the actors actually walked in circles in the fields. We also learned that while filming The Hobbit and LOTR, the hobbits were drinking a lot of ale. So for filming, the director didn’t want drunk actors/extras running around, a beer company created ‘SobeRing,’ a 1% abv beer for the actors to consume while filming. So the beer looked real, but the actors were only a little happy, not fall down drunk after a long day of filming.
The farm is adding to the tourist attractions by making The Green Dragon a functional pub and restaurant. So the next time we visit, we can eat lunch there.
After the tour, we returned to ‘Shire’s Rest’ for lunch and the gift shop. The gift shop was much smaller than we expected, but we still managed to spend money.
After the long drive back to Auckland, we got back on the ship for dinner and a couple shows. Before dinner, we saw another Maori cultural dance presentation. This was the third show of its kind we saw in 2 days. But, it was still entertaining. After dinner, we saw a comedian hypnotist.
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