"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien
One word can only begin to describe our time in Hobbiton, magical. As you make your way through this country you are captivated by the landscape, and as you approach Hobbiton it's no different. The entrance is nondescript, just a farm with winding roads and rolling green hills on either side dotted with sheep and cows, but mostly sheep. You eventually make your way to a small building that houses the gift shop, small cafe, and ticket counter. We had pre-purchased tickets to the evening tour and banquet (which I highly recommend, you will see why). From the small house you board a bus that takes you into the rolling hills where Hobbiton is hid. The tour guides are deserving of a shout-out. We had three: one who drove the bus and pride himself on terrible dad jokes, and two others who were walking tour guides. The two tour guides split us evenly to help with congestion on the small hobbit sized paths. Our tour guide, Glyn was just as magical as Hobbiton itself. He embodied what it meant to be a Hobbit and loved the tales of Hobbits past. Glyn brought us through the paths and described secrets from the set, the passion that has been poured into the hills, and filled us in on Hobbit lore. From the weathered Hobbit-holes, to the growing gardens and flowers, to the breads and honey out for sale, it looked as if it was a fully functioning Hobbit community. Five gardeners work 50 hour a week to keep the grounds as if Hobbits live and thrive there.
We ascended the hillside to Bag End where Bilbo and Frodo lived. As we made our way up the hill we past Hobbit-holes of different size and color. You could tell the profession of the Hobbit from the contents outside their door, from honey to chopped wood, bread and hanging meats. From Bag End you could see all of Hobbiton and beyond, from the pond to the Green Dragon Inn to the mountains in the distance. The sun was setting and it lit up the sky pink. The Hobbits were turning in for the night as their front porch lights flicked on and the path before us was lit by lanterns. We descended back down the hill toward the Green Dragon Inn where our feast awaited. The path back down led us over a bridge past a water mill.
The Green Dragon Inn sat at the edge of Hobbiton across the pond. When we entered there was a curtain to our left and a warm, open, wooden pub to our right. At the bar our tour guides waited for our orders as the first drink is on the house. They had a cider, stout and ale on tap that was exclusive to Hobbiton and not available for sale. We started with the cider which was crisp and delicious. Across from the bar was a roaring fire. Down the Inn further to the right were little sitting areas surrounded by round archways and round windows (in Hobbit fashion). As soon as everyone had their first drink in them they counted down from 3 and opened the curtain. Behind the curtain waiting for us were three long tables filled high with foods of all kind. Everyone hurried to find a seat. Before us were whole chickens, potatoes, stuffed peppers, lamb legs, meatballs, mushrooms, salmon, mashed potatoes, and so much more. We all passed around what was in front of us making sure that no one missed out on anything. In the dining hall was a bar with a fierce green dragon carved out above it. There of course was a fire lit with a beautiful hearth and a couple of arm chairs. Perched atop one of the chairs was an old calico cat sitting upright and alert. Not too long after we began our feast she made her way over to my chair somehow knowing I was her best bet for some scraps of food, and she was not disappointed.
After we all had our fill it was time for dessert. Quickly the staff cleared our tables and replaced our scraps with a tray of mini pies of assorted flavor, cheesecake, a cheese plate, and a NZ favorite pavlova. They also had coffee and tea available at the bar. I could feel the food up to my throat but I managed to eat a pie (or two) and had a cup of coffee by the fire. As I sat watching the fire, surrounded by laughter I felt a warm feeling rise inside of me (and it wasn't just the food). I wished I could just sit there all night, drinking beer, eventually making my way up to a little bed. The architecture was perfect, wooden arches, shelfs with "old" books, flyers pinned to the sides of the bar. I was full of good food, surrounded by merry people, and being warmed by the fire, how could life be any better?
Alas, it was time to end the night. We all slowly made our way out of the Green Dragon Inn with lanterns in hand for our return journey. Glyn told us some final tales as we made our way into the field where Bilbo's famous 111th birthday was held. We formed a circle and our tour guides sang Hobbit songs as we danced about. The sky was full of stars and so were our eyes.
Anyone making their way to New Zealand MUST go to Hobbiton. 30% of the people that go to Hobbiton haven't read or seen any of the movies/books, so don't think you shouldn't go if you don't know the tales. It's a beautiful place filled with joy and magic.
"Far over the misty mountains old
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold…" Dwarven songs, The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien