Monday, December 24, 2018

Travel: Hobbiton Movie Set

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." With the release of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, New Zealand became known as the home of Middle-earth. I was fortunate enough to live in this country with incredible sceneries that look straight out of a painting or in this case, a striking similarity to J.R.R. Tolkien's myth lore. I've seen the movies and BTS videos including all extended versions during a binge-watch with the family on Christmas eve. I only read The Hobbit, which I got from a book sale in Manila. Although the films were shot around New Zealand, stepping foot in the rolling hills of The Shire was a fairytale come to life.

Weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable so we waited for summer to spend a sunny afternoon at The Shire. The warmest months here are from December to February but also the busiest so plan your trip ahead. We booked a Hobbiton Day Tour online from InterCity for $159 NZD (PHP 5,650++) per person, which includes a return bus trip to Auckland and a guided tour of Hobbiton Movie Set. There are other tours that have several side trips like Waitomo Glowworm Caves but we're saving it for another road trip to Rotorua next time. If you're traveling on your own, you can purchase tickets directly from the official website of Hobbiton Tours. The bus leaves from Sky City Terminal in Auckland to Matamata at exactly 8:00 AM that would take 3 hours with a short stop in Hamilton. InterCity bus will drop you off in front of the i-Site Visitor Centre where you can claim your entrance ticket to Hobbiton Movie Set. You will have enough time to get lunch or coffee around town but unfortunately, vegan options are limited so we resorted to a vege sandwich and chai soy latte. Another shuttle bus will pick up all the tourists at the specified time then travel to a private farm where Hobbiton was built. After 10-15 minutes, you will reach The Shire.

I'm not going to spoil the experience for others who wished to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set. But, here are a few important reminders to keep in mind.

  • If you're planning to visit during the summer, apply sunblock at all cost as it gets warmer during the day. The sun can be very harsh in New Zealand since there is less ozone to block the UV rays. You will burn. Not to mention the peeling process can be the worst.
  • Stay hydrated. Water bottles are allowed inside. There's a complimentary drink when the tour ends at The Green Dragon Inn. Try the special non-alcoholic gingerbeer and apple cider from their handcrafted barrel bars. We bought a bottle at the souvenir shop before returning to the tour bus.
  • Visitors enter The Shire by batches so always listen to your tour guide. They will usher you around and mention a lot of fun movie trivia about Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. We were around 30 in the group but it wasn't that chaotic. You will be given plenty of time to roam around on your own and take photos. If you don't like the crowd, you can also join a small group tour instead.

InterCity Bus Terminal

102 Hobson Street, Auckland
Telephone No. 09 583 5780

Matamata i-SITE Visitor Information Centre

45 Broadway, Matamata



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