I couldn’t visit New Zealand and not see the verdant rolling hills that were transformed into J.R.R. Tolkein’s imaginative creation of Hobbiton, the tiny community inhabited by Hobbits in his fantastical world of Middle Earth. After flying out of Christchurch and being very well cared for by our new friends Katy and Paddy, we landed in Auckland for the final few days of our epic life-changing six month adventure abroad.
After leaving the airport, we headed over to a local car rental and got ourselves a nice left-hand driving car for our stay in the city. Actually, we were situated just on the outskirts, very close to the airport where the pickings were cheap (by this time, our finances had run very thin and we’d soon need to be returning to Canada to begin to rebuild our savings). The agent helping us looked fairly suspicious after asking me if I’d driven left-hand before and I responded that I’d done so on a motorbike all throughout Asia. Nevertheless, we got our car and were on our way.
An absolute must for us was to head about an hour and a half out of the city near a town called Matamata to visit the set where “Hobbiton” was created for the Lord of the Rings movies as well as the Hobbit trilogy. This area of New Zealand’s north island is known for horse breeding and racing. After booking a tour through Hobbiton Tours, we made our way to Matamata and hopped on a bus which took us deeper into the sprawling farmland after providing us with some knowledge on the equestrian culture.
Before arriving at the set, we were taken to a sheep farm where a farmer demonstrated the process in which a herding dog coerces a flock of sheep and forces them to group together. It was an interesting demonstration and the dogs are extremely well trained and skilled.
Hobbiton was a gorgeous area, and looked identical to how it looks in the movie. We re-watched The Fellowship of the Ring soon afterward and couldn’t believe that we were literally walking through the entire area so recently. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Our visit to Matamata and Hobbiton was a neat little side trip unlike anything we’d done on this adventure so far. With only a couple of days left to explore Auckland, our trip was coming to a close and would signal a turning point in our lives from which there would be no return. Simply put, there is a stark line between life before this and life after this. Occasionally, I wish I could go back to the before, knowing what lies before me. But that’s not how life works, nor should it. This happened exactly as it should have as here I am, perfectly content with things as they stand. Still, the wrap up will not be easy.