15 Days on the Road
Tonight, we feast like Hobbits! We will delve into The Shire for a special banquet at the Green Dragon Tavern. That’s right, journeys in our campervan have often been compared to that of Frodo’s to Mordor, so it is only fitting to actually enter Middle-earth itself in celebration.
Excitement is bubbling within us all day like the fiery depths bubble in Mt Doom. Robin is repeatedly saying: “I am going to stuff myself tonight, then stuff myself some more until I am sick!” Try to guess what happens…
Flying fox in a suit
Instead of crossing Mordor though, we cross Waikato from Te Aroha to Matamata. If you haven’t already heard, a farm near Matamata is the Hobbiton Movie Set. You can get some good literature about that in The Hobbit Location Guide. However, before we set off on our epic quest, our friend from Auckland, Simon, pays us a quick visit in the Te Aroha Holiday Park. It’s a fleeting but hilarious reunion when Simon catches us playing on the flying fox, the one we spent way too much time on yesterday, and he is eager to jump on the massive zipline in his suit! This is clearly the best way to zipline.
Upon entering the shire…
There’s no time to lose. We must get to The Shire. So we say: “See ya later, mate,” to Simon, then get on with our drive to Matamata. Admittedly, the first place we visit in Matamata isn’t the most exciting. Nonetheless, it was wonderful to think we are in The Warehouse where Hobbits shop for bargains…
A few supplies in arms, back on the road for the final stint to Hobbiton. The drive to the farm is pretty intense. Every 500 metres there seems to be a road sign for Hobbiton. Each one we see gets Laura, who is a Rings nerd for life, pretty freakishly excited. The rolling green hills start to develop on the side of the road, getting more and more extreme around every corner. Gawd, we want to see some Hobbit holes already!
Hobbiton by night
The Hobbiton Night Tour starts at 4pm on this chilly winter’s evening, giving us a good look at the 44 Hobbit holes spread across this picturesque outdoor movie set just as the sun is going down. It’s certainly a new perspective on the tour we have both done on other occasions. We get to marvel at the lush green Hobbit village with all its intricate details emphasised in the daylight, plus, all its changing colours and lighting at night. We’re living the Lord of the Rings fantasy from the day Hobbiton scenes, such as: “We’re going on an adventure!!!” in An unexpected Journey to the evening party scene of Bilbo Baggin’s 111th birthday in The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s all going on right here.
Top tip for visiting hobbiton!
It’s impossible to get a bad photo in Hobbiton, it really is. Our tip to anyone doing the Hobbiton Movie Set tour is don’t feel too rushed to get to the front of your group. The tour guide usually speaks very clearly to be heard by the entire group. Plus, you can get the best photo from the back of the group, as you have less people to avoid. That was our tactic this time we strolled around Hobbiton and it really worked well! (Have you noticed how crazy we went with the 360 images?!) Some other girls had the same idea, so we all helped each other out with photos. Team work!
Stuffing ourselves like filthy little Hobbitses!
As night falls, the lanterns of the Green Dragon Tavern glisten in the distance and reflect on the lake. Ah, the fantasy is alive! As is our stomachs in anticipation for this Green Dragon feast!
Upon entering the Green Dragon, we are given a complimentary beverage of Southfarthing beer, cider or ginger beer. Robin takes a cider like a teenager discovering alcohol for the first time, and Laura get’s a good ol’ beer in a ceramic cup fit for a Hobbit. She’s a classy lady.
Our host gathers us around what we can only assume is the entrance to the dining area laid out behind some curtains. With curtains comes a grand reveal of the three giant tables full of food in a medieval style! (Or should we say, Middle-earth style? Same thing, right?) Stacked upon tiers of decorated candles, flowers and fresh capsicums and garlic (which we find out is real later when Robin starts eating a full raw capsicum), is roast chicken, tender pork, Cumberland sausage, stuffed butternut squash, salad, stew, mushrooms, caramelised onions, and PO-TA-TOES!
What munching in Middle-earth looks like in virtual reality…
The… food… is… sensational. We help ourselves to first course, then second course was compulsory apparently, so we couldn’t argue with that. Food was given with great company as we were surrounded by keen travellers and Lord of the Rings’ nerds. Even before dessert, Robin is mumurming that he is so full already… Yet, with glutony in his eyes, he forks the food in his mouth and shares some chicken with the resident cat who has taken a shine to him.
Plenty of time is given to have a look around this intricately carved Green Dragon pub, and mingle with our fellow Hobbits, until dessert is served! Cooked pear, sticky toffee pudding, honey yoghurt, stuffed apple, fresh fruit and, Kiwi favourite, pavlova. Robin goes nuts on the pavlova because he is having far too much fun stealing Laura’s servings when she is not looking. Oh how he will regret that move…
The final nighttime stroll
Lanterns in hand, we have one last look around Hobbiton now in complete darkness exept for the lights of the Hobbit holes, the authentic-looking pathway lanterns, and the Southern Hemisphere stars. Robin is starting to keel over, saying: “I ate way too much, I ate way too much.”
There’s nothing quite like ending your Middle-earth experience on a beautiful night in a beautiful location. But now, it’s time to transport ourselves back to reality and back on the road to find our way to our next overnight stop, Hamilton. However, as Laura is disturbed by the groaning noises coming from the driver’s seat. Robin is leaning over the steering wheel, looking as fit as a mountain troll.
“I am so uncomfortable,” he wimpers over and over again, flinging his body all around the driver seat like a crazed orc. He’s French, you know, so he gets a little dramatic but he’s in quite a bit of pain as his body can’t seem to digest the banquet he just gorged on. Not even a Hobbit would be able to consume what he’s just had. This just makes Laura’s time at Hobbiton all that more sweeter, as she clearly had an epic night living in one of her favourite movie trilogies of all time!
See us tomorrow, where we’ll see if Robin survives the night.
Getting our Hobbit-on in the sunset
While Robin sits and thinks about what he’s done, check out how magical Hobbiton is on our Instagram account, @NZPocketGuide.com.
The Lord of the Rings geeks, these are for you: