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Let’s Go Exploring! Hobbiton and Auckland, New Zealand: Fangirling over the Lord of the Rings

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“My PRECIOUSssss…” I whispered, clutching the Hobbiton map to my chest as our tour bus rolled by way of the luxurious inexperienced hills of New Zealand, straight to the Shire.

Ever since watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy manner again in my school days (its epic 3 hour size was good for procrastinating from examination finding out), I dreamt of going to New Zealand. There have been two issues I lusted over again then: Legolas’s horny flowing blond mane and the dramatic snow-covered mountain peaks of New Zealand, the place the film was filmed. What I wouldn’t have given to sit down inside a hobbit gap, hike to the height of Mount Doom, or get pleasure from a pint on the well-known Inexperienced Dragon pub.

Now, 12 years later, that dream lastly turned a actuality. And now I used to be seal clapping and gushing over each tree, blade of grass, and hobbit gap I laid my eyes on. All the 2-hour drive there from Auckland, we’d been listening to the film soundtrack on a loop, and now, after a brief 5 min bus journey from the studio entrance, I couldn’t consider I used to be truly standing in entrance of Bag Finish, Bilbo Baggins’ home!

“Discover something unusual about that tree?” requested our information, a bubbly younger brunette in full hobbit uniform, pointing to the oak tree on prime of the roof.

I stared at its darkish inexperienced leaves, squinting on the vibrant solar rays peeking by way of. I’d been so busy gaping at Bilbo’s pipe, mendacity on the bench in his entrance yard and the well-known “No Admittance. Besides on celebration enterprise” signal that I hadn’t even observed it.

“The leaves aren’t transferring?” I replied.

“That’s proper,” mentioned our information. “They’re faux! Peter Jackson had 40,000 synthetic leaves flown in from Taiwan. They needed to be individually connected by hand and spray painted to match the precise shade of inexperienced within the e book.”

Geez, I assumed. That’s extra effort than I’ve put into something in my entire life! Seems the eye to element didn’t cease there.

“Right here’s one other enjoyable truth,” our information continued. “You see these timber over there?”


“Tolkien describes kids taking part in below plum timber within the e book however Peter felt they might look too huge relative to the remainder of the set so he had apple and pear timber planted as a substitute. However to be true to the descriptions, he had the fruit on the timber be manually changed with faux plums.”

OK. This man is both a genius or significantly OCD.

“They even had a delegated ‘frog transporter’ on set, whose solely job was to move the frogs (which needed to be flown in from Australia) to a different pond in order that their noises wouldn’t disrupt the dialogue within the movie.”

Okay that’s insane. I ponder if that job got here with well being advantages. Like for those who get warts or one thing, is that thought of a work-related harm?

“And at last, are you aware why this yellow hobbit gap door is way larger than this blue one?”


“It’s a digicam trick. Gandalf is a wizard who must be towering over Frodo, the hobbit. However because the actor Sir Ian Mckellen isn’t a lot taller than Elijah Wooden, Peter Jackson had the door behind Elijah constructed larger to make him look shorter and Sir Ian’s door constructed tiny to make him look big.”

And for this reason for those who’re a movie nerd, you’ll be able to’t go to Auckland and never do a day journey to go to Hobbiton in Matamata.  You’ll be able to actually have a drink on the Inexperienced Goblin inn with no designated driver on the best way again, as a result of they serve ginger beer. And right here’s one other enjoyable truth: the Inn was truly burned down for the scene in Lord of the Rings the place Frodo seems to be into the Mirror of Galadriel and sees orcs invading the Shire. They later constructed it again so it could possibly be used as a vacationer attraction.

Again in Auckland, we stayed in a Residence Trade, a large 4 bed room 2 toilet home in Devonport, a quaint bayside village only a 15 minute ferry journey from downtown Auckland.

Devonport, I discovered, additionally occurred to be the birthplace of singer Lordes and had spectacular views of Auckland whenever you climbed to the highest of the dormant North Head volcano (or “Maungauika” in Māori):

Renting a automotive was simple from Shore Leases and on condition that your complete inhabitants of New Zealand is simply 5 million (1.7 million of whom reside in Auckland), the street weren’t too congested and different drivers have been normally, fairly chill.

Wanderer discovered it a bit unnerving to be driving on the other aspect of the street (though, for those who’re from the UK, you’d really feel proper at dwelling) however fortunately our trusty Hobbiton information instructed us a few lifesaving rule.

“Everytime you drive out of the country, assume ‘Passenger = Pavement.’”

This implies everytime you drive, maintain your passenger on the pavement aspect of the street. This was useful because it meant we didn’t should assume too exhausting about which course to show and which aspect of the street to be on. Plus, it really works no matter which nation you’re in.

One other spotlight of our time in Auckland was assembly up with Joanne and Jon, a producer from Warner Brothers and a Hollywood director whom we met whereas engaged on a FIRE TV present. Previous to the pandemic, Jon had fallen in love with New Zealand after vacationing there along with his spouse and wished to maneuver there completely. After assembly us, he ended up promoting his home in L.A and doing the entire geo-arbitrage factor.

You recognize L.A costs are cray cray when you find yourself transferring to New Zealand to economize. I do know this as a result of grocery costs in Auckland have been atrocious! I assumed Melbourne and Sydney have been unhealthy, however this was a complete new degree.

Even after having been to Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, and Denmark, New Zealand nonetheless managed to sticker shock me at any time when I hit the grocery shops. The one different place with costlier groceries that we’d been to is Iceland.

Eggs have been virtually $1 every and even at that value, they ran out!

I used to be later instructed by my Residence Trade host that the rationale why the costs are insane and stock low is that the federal government lately handed a regulation phasing out caged eggs, which precipitated farmers to scramble (no pun supposed), resulting in a scarcity.

Pack ‘n Save ended up being the most cost effective grocery retailer, however troublesome to get to with out driving. Fortunately, lamb was ample and fairly priced however sadly, since I can’t eat lamb, I lived vicariously by way of Wanderer who declared it one of the best lamb he’d ever eaten.

Finest lamb ever? My gag mirror nonetheless gained’t let me eat it.

Points of interest

Aside from a day journey to Hobbiton, sights we visited in Auckland included taking a ferry to Waiheke island (a chill place for biking and mountaineering), the Warfare Memorial museum (which is free on sure holidays like Anzac day), and a free strolling tour downtown. We have been additionally planning to go to Rangitoto, a dormant volcano you’ll be able to climb, however ended up operating out of time.

Our tour information gave us useful suggestions like visiting for a listing of metropolis occasions and shopping for tickets by way of to get reductions for sights throughout New Zealand.

She additionally instructed us that New Zealand has 3 official languages: Māori, English, and Signal language. Their reverence for his or her Māori native tradition was additionally mirrored of their “silver fern” symbolism, a species of fern solely present in New Zealand, whose leaves mirror moonlight, making it a helpful information to navigate by way of the bush at evening.

When you’re coming to go to New Zealand, you mainly should land in Auckland, so in case you are a Lord of the Rings nerd like me, don’t miss a day journey to Hobbiton when you’re right here. Auckland is extra of a spot to work, so for nature, we ended leaving visiting one other place in New Zealand, which for my part, is among the most lovely locations I’ve ever been to on the planet. We’ll speak about that in a future put up, however within the meantime, are you able to guess what that place is?

Right here’s how a lot we spent:

Class Value in USD/couple per day Value in CAD/couple per day Notes
Accomodations $0 $0 Since we stayed in a Residence Trade we ended up spending nothing on lodging, apart from the hire again dwelling ($51/day for 2 individuals).
Meals $31.11 $42.31 ($17.69 consuming out, $24.62 groceries) Regardless of groceries being atrociously costly, we managed to top off at Pack ‘n Save after renting a automotive, and we saved a ton of cash on consuming out as a result of the native grocery retailer had pre-made meals discounted at 80% of the unique value on the finish of every day. We ended up packing sandwiches and consuming out solely a couple of times the entire 9 days we have been there.
Transportation $74.67 $101.55 Transportation ended up being the costliest class as a result of not solely did we have to by airplane tickets for $200 USD/particular person to get from Sydney to Auckland, we additionally wanted to hire the automotive ($50 USD/day + $35 for fuel) for the day journey to Hobbiton, plus a number of bus rides ($2.60 USD/particular person/day), the Uber to and from the Airport ($77 USD), and a ferry journey ($28 USD/particular person). Amortized over 9 days, it ended up costing us round $75 USD/couple/day.
Leisure $14.96 $20.35 Hobbiton entry tickets price us round $110 USD/particular person. We additionally tipped for the free strolling tour. Amortized over 9 days, it ended up costing us round $15 USD/couple/day. Aside from that, the museum, volcano, and mountaineering have been free.
Whole $120.74 $164.21 Auckland isn’t an affordable place nevertheless it was value each penny. I can’t consider I truly received to go to a Lord of the Rings set and the entry ticket to Hobbiton, for my part, is completely value it.

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