We opted for a private tour, and are so glad that we did as otherwise trying to jostle for space with the other 40 odd people on each tour, simply to get a photo, did not look like fun. Meanwhile we swanned around with our great guide Matt, who made sure that we avoided all the crowds, even to the point where we had the pub to ourselves
! He also let us have a peek inside the gates of the houses, and blimey were they amazing! All the little details were incredible, especially as a lot of the houses were only in shot for a split second, and some didn't even make the final cut. Matt said all of the houses were dressed according to the profession of the hobbit that lived in them, so if the hobbit in that house was a gardener his letterbox would be painted with flowers, his tools would be out front, his garden would be neat etc etc . It really is incredible the amount of detail that went into creating the shire, particularly as it was one of 175 different locations used for the film! I could go on and on, with all of the other little snippets of information he gave us, but I don't want to bore you. Lets just say, it was an amazing few hours, and if I was a hobbit, I would happily live there. I suppose with my hairy toes, I'd be more than welcome...
Anyway after a scenic drive back to Auckland along the coast, we opted out of going for the hat trick at The Grill, and instead choose to eat at the hotel, at their popular buffet restaurant called Eight. The number refers to the number of cooking stations, which means that essentially you can stuff yourself silly on seafood, meat, curries, Chinese, sushi, desserts, cheeses, and even salad if you're that way inclined. Three hours later we rolled into bed. No way would we fit in those little hobbit houses now!
Today was the big day! After travelling many, many miles, and losing many, many hours of sleep, we were finally off to Hobbiton! Or Hobbit Land. Or Hobbit World. Or whatever you want to call it. Basically it's the actual shire from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The proper movie set that Peter Jackson had built,with all of the little hobbit houses, including Bilbo's Bag End, and even the Green Dragon Pub, complete with beer brewed specially for it! It's located in the middle of a huge sheep farm, about 3 hours south of Auckland, and just like the shire, it's absolutely beautiful.