One Final Adventure

Trip Start Feb 20, 2013
Trip End Jul 05, 2013

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What I did

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, June 30, 2013

This will likely be the last entry I'll get in before heading home later this week. I have had an incredible time here, and I would recommend a New Zealand visit to anyone if they get an opportunity.
Last week I finally did something Lord of the Rings related - I went to Hobbiton. Hobbiton is home to the Shire and was used in the LoTR and The Hobbit films. It is a massive working farm owned and operated by a family who originally allowed Peter Jackson (the director) and the crew to create this beautiful setting. When we arrived, we were taken on a quick bus tour of the rolling hills leading up to the set. Then we went on a two hour tour of the set. It was amazing! There were so many hobbit holes that were built into the sides of the hills. Some of them were larger than others and we were told that it's what makes the hobbits look smaller or people like Gandalf look tall. The tour guide told our group a whole lot about the set and the filming. One of the oddest things I learned was that there was a person hired to keep the smoke going from the chimneys at all times during filming. He filled the top of the chimneys with beeswax and lit that to create the smoke. This one person did that for all of the chimneys and there are over 40 different hobbit holes, so by the time he filled and lit them all the first one was burnt out and he had to start all over. It was pretty much a constant job. There was another person who was paid to paint the leaves on top of Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo's house). The tree was stripped of all its leaves and thousands of hand-made leaves were attached. When Peter Jackson came back to film The Hobbit, he saw the leaves and didn't like the color, so he paid someone to repaint all of the leaves. I can't even imagine how long that would've taken! We were told about other odd jobs that people had during the filming, but I won't spoil all of the good stuff!
Our tour led us past all the hobbit holes and we even got to go inside one of them. Unfortunately, the hobbit holes are basically just glorified sheds. There's enough space to walk in them, but they're nothing more than storage places. They were originally just going to be fašades, but the lighting wasn't right coming from the inside of the homes, so they dug into the hills a bit more to create better lighting. Even though there wasn't anything in the holes, it was still cool to get a glimpse of the homes.
After we saw the hobbit holes, we went to the Green Dragon Inn, which was 100% real! There were tables and chairs set up, food, a massive stone fireplace, and we even got a free drink! It was a great way to end the tour because it was windy and cold outside, so it was nice to get inside by the fire. They even had "hobbit" clothes that you could dress up in for pictures. Our tour group got an extra special treat. We were our tour guide's last tour before he left for England, and he had learned a song from Lord of the Rings and played it for us. It was a cool little experience.
I was so happy to get to go on this one last adventure in New Zealand. With less than a week until I leave, two out of three exams finished, and the weather being rainy and cold, I am quite excited to be coming home. It will be a bittersweet goodbye, though. I will miss the gorgeous landscapes and all of the people I've met. I definitely plan on coming back sometime in the future to explore more of this amazing country.
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