You don’t need to be a Lord of the Rings fan to enjoy this enchanting village of Hobbiton just a 2-hour drive from Auckland. Although this is a movie set it doesn’t appear as such. It’s an idyllic village with fantasy-like landscaping of flowers, vegetation, fruit trees and walking paths. It’s like stepping into another world, the world of Hobbits. You’ll even get to enjoy a complimentary pub drink at the Green Dragon Inn.
I booked this tour via Viator for $149 USD and the actual tour company is Cheeky Kiwi Travel. They’ll pick you up at a few key hotels downtown and their service is great! Our guide Michael was timely, friendly and highly attentive. Our start pick-up time was a very respectable 10am, not too early. With a 2-hour drive along beautiful green countryside we had some photo op stops giving you a chance to stretch your legs or have a bathroom break. Our guide would also narrate about the region.
We participated in some introductions about ourselves as a group of seven, one young woman from Texas, one young woman from Sydney, and a family of 4 from Vietnam. A very friendly group and a good time together.
As we approach we are getting more exited to be at the Hobbiton Movie Set, the launch point for the village. We have some lunch first at The Shire’s Rest Cafe. This is were you transfer to an official Hobbiton tour bus to head to the village. Our tour guide hands us maps of the village and our tour time schedule was for 1:30pm.
I’m fairly giddy as we enter Hobbiton and want to run around and look at everything. There’s so much to see and it’s charming beyond belief. The attention to detail is exquisite. One condition is that you need to stay with your guide to avoid chaos with other groups. This is OK, it keeps the tour pleasant and we have the right amount of time at each place.
This set is built on the operational Alexander Farm. There are no signs of anything modern to interfere with the set. Most of the flora is real with a few exceptions. There was one very large Oak tree at Bag End that was fake. Each leaf was individually attached and hand-painted, over 200, 000 leaves we are told per request of Peter Jackson. He even wanted a plum tree, but since plum trees grow too large there were small real apple trees instead. During filming he had people tie up plums to this tree. All this makes the Hobbit Village a living place from the novels.
You’ll see some fauna such as sheep, cows, birds, and even pheasants. They all look just like they belong here in this village and they do.
There’s the occasional breads, cheeses, and meats display which is fake, but difficult to tell. It’s really the live flora, butterfly’s and large bee’s that will get your attention as any complete fantasy world should.
Our path goes to the right up the Great North road as we stop to pose and take photos of each other participating in Hobbit life.
As we continue to climb the path up to Bag End we get a view of the whole landscape. It’s not that crowded with tourists which was my original concern.
The attention to detail really adds life to this village.
We descend and make our way to the Green Dragon Inn by the Lake where some ale awaits us.
At the Inn I order a nice stout (complimentary) with tasting notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla aromas and flavors of chocolate and roastieness. While sitting at a corner window we toast each other taking turns with photos.
The time moved quickly and our 2-hour tour of Hobbiton is coming to and end. Our Cheeky Kiwi guide Michael surprises us at the Inn to tell us it’s time to go. We were just deep into some chit-chat and not paying attention to the time.
We sign the guest book on the way out and re-board the Hobbiton shuttle back to our Cheeky Kiwi Shuttle for the 2-hour ride back to Auckland.
I could have spent the whole day here just wandering around and spend half the evening at the Green Dragon Inn!