Hobbiton Confidential

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Lake Okareka DOC Campsite
What I did
Hobbiton Set tour

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On waking at our plush overnight accommodation of Opal Springs Holiday Park I noticed the bump on my head from the night before. This bump had been sustained getting back into the campervan post toileting and had knocked me silly for a few minutes. It hurt and the bump remained as a scar of the battle. Another battle in which I seemed to lose considerably yesterday was that with the man-eating midges. I noted shortly after my morning bathe in the river that in a few spots on my legs I had a pinprick blood bite. It appeared as if it must have been river related and so I thought maybe leeches, but I didn't see any. It wasn’t leeches but more some kind of hungry little midge (and not a mosquito). On count back, now the bites are obvious, it is 26 bites total all below my knees, and all very itchy. This is I think a record for us on a single sitting of an insect. The Chinese midges/mosquitos liked Kate. The New Zealanders have taken a liking for me.

Just for the record at this point I noted a few days ago that at some point Kate would start to ask me to take my shoes off when entering our 2003, 300 000km old campervan. The time has come – I feel vindicated for suggesting that she would be so anal about keeping out camper clean, but she is. Apparently, it is only when it is damp outside – but that’s just the start of the rules which are sure to develop over the next 15 days or so.

Anyways, done with my "Isn’t martin having a hard time" mini blog and on with the real content.

We stayed just outside Matamata which is a little town in the mid-region of the North Island and is home to the fictional (Sorry Ed’s – but it is) village of Hobbiton we would be visiting this very day. We did a drive by past the 'Hobbiton’ sign while trying to get Kate a jumper as it is a bit nippy for her, and Kate succeeded in taking a off kilter photo which apparently I can “sort out on photoshop or something”.

The Hobbiton Tours appear to be a family operation started up after the Lord of the Rings Films. It’s a good little money spinner for the family and when you arrive at the site it has a nice small size to it which makes it feel homely and not too grand. The land surrounding the site makes it obvious why the farm was selected – very little of man-made influence and plenty of greenery. It’s a near perfect landscape.

We parked up, collected our tickets and signed our confidentiality agreement. This is understandable considering the new films coming out in the next couple of years. Essentially the confidentiality agreement means that anything we found out at the tour could not be passed on to friends and family etc and so with that in mind I will tell you as little as possible, and only what I knew before going on set.

An important thing to know at this point is we were well aware when booking our tour that the Hobbiton site has recently been used (they left just a week or so ago) for the filming for the next two Hobbit movies. Over the past year or so it has been awaiting confirmation that it would be used in the films but recently the filming began and finished and so the site would be in full set mode, with props, paint work etc. Over the past 7-8 years since the last movies, the sets have been broken out and dismantled and so all you could view were a few hobbit holes, very much as if the inhabitants had moved out centuries ago. We were visiting a fresh alive village.

With confidentiality in mind, all I would say is.

Nice staff, very informative, very geeky, very much enjoyed. I knew it would look like Hobbiton, and with me starting to work my way through the books; in my mind it delivered.

I can’t show you our photos. They are ours for personal, private and not for commercial uses. But please enjoy photos of the Hobbiton sign and general scenery surrounding the site. Worth it if you visit in full set mode. If you want to see photos of the set, just watch Lord of the Rings or the new Hobbit films as they are probably shot in a better resolution to my photos anyhow.

We watched the little sheep shearing add on that the tour provides and the demonstrator was nicely informative – it’s a strange little addition to the tour, but maybe it excuses them charging what they do for the set tours.

Lunch of sandwiches was taken in the Shire’s Rest car park before we headed back along Buckland Road towards Route 29 and our next destination of Rotorua.

For those who care, I will try and give an overall cost of our 24 day sojourn in New Zealand when leaving Christchurch as I think it important not to consider the country too expensive. We have been travelling here for a few days now and we are looking like even though we will do a few of the more expensive things, Hobbiton tour, Blackwater Rafting (planned), Glacier walk (planned), Milford Sound Cruise (planned), Whale Watching (planned), Geothermal Park Visit (planned) it appears that we may finish just under our proposed budget. This being the case, it is a good value for the break.

Driving through Rotorua; and the place stinks. Not in terms of how it looks – it is a very pretty town by a lake, but due to the Geothermal goings on of the region – I kept given Kate dodgy looks as if she had let one go. The smell of sulphur is pretty strong in some areas and I guess it would take some getting used to if you lived here, but at least you could let one go on the sly and nobody would know – except if they were some kind of fart connoisseur.

We pulled up into our smallest campsite so far with only 12 spots and took one of the last remaining pitches. It appears to be a busy campsite because of it’s locality to Rotorua and because of it’s beautiful setting by the one of the local lakes. Amazingly picturesque – the view out of the front of the camper is across a quiet lake bordered 90% of the way around by forest, and with a tiny village on the last 10%, if that.

Kate fed the ducks some bread and we had a chilli dinner. It seemed like a good choice considering we are visiting the sulphur strong Geothermal park tomorrow.
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