The Shire in Spring

Wednesday, October 29th was the fateful day we visited Hobbiton.

Hobbiton - Welcome sign

The Hobbiton movie set is located roughly equidistantly between Lake Rotorua and Mount Maunganui, so either place is a good jumping off point for a visit to The Shire (Matamata is a very small town, and I’m not sure what the accommodations are like there).

Apart from mentioning that the exorbitant $75 per person ticket cost is absolutely worth it, I thought this post should be overwhelmingly dominated by photos. The set was incredibly lifelike, nestled among the hills of a 1,250-acre sheep farm in the heart of the North Island.

And so it begins.

Hobbiton - yellow door

“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 Shire

“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green.”

Hobbiton - marmalade

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Hobbiton - communal garden

“’We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’”

Hobbiton - blue door

“…anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.”

Hobbiton - not on film

This photo deserves a proper caption: It is of the handful of Hobbit holes that were constructed just in case the camera panned over the top of the hill. Well, the camera never did, meaning that these miniature dwellings never made an appearance in any of The Hobbit films. You can only “see” them, then, if you go on the set tour.

Hobbiton - marigolds

“Why O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole?” said poor Mr. Baggins, bumping up and down on Bombur’s back.”

Hobbiton - party space

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” 

Hobbiton - wee mailbox

“There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.”

Hobbiton - lake

“Float beyond the world of trees. Out into the whispering breeze, past the rushes, past the weeds, past the marsh’s waving reeds.”

Hobbiton - Bag End

“It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.”

Hobbiton - beer barrel

“Quite a merry gathering!…What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”

Hobbiton - sheep grazing

“I am tired of stairs and stone passages. I would give a good deal for the feel of grass at my toes.”

Hobbiton - party details

“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

Hobbiton - bridge

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

Hobbiton - 2nd blue door

“The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.”

Hobbiton - bird house

“…long ago in the quiet of the world…there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous.”

Hobbiton - chimney smoke

“Bother burgling and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!”

Hobbiton - clothes drying

“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

Hobbiton - Sam and Rosie's

“His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.”

Hobbiton - Bagshot Row

“The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.”

Hobbiton - garden details

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”

Interior of The Green Dragon

And here, the cozy interior of The Green Dragon, where we each got a pint of beer and shared a tasty scone.

The Green Dragon - menu

“What on earth did I ask him to tea for!” he said to himself, as he went to the pantry.”

The Shire kitty

“He thought much but said little.”

Hobbiton - the mill

“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.”

It was an absolutely magical experience, and I think we visited in the best time of the year – mid-spring, when all of the flowers were blooming, all of the vegetables in the garden were growing, and sun beamed down on the grassy hills and grazing sheep. Everything was meticulously curated and displayed, and even though the price of admission was steep, the 2-hour tour was well worth it.

All photos by Greg.

19 thoughts on “The Shire in Spring

  1. Your photos are beautiful! We visited Hobbiton on a warm evening in late summer. Everything was bathed in gorgeous golden sunshine and the gardens were still full of flowers. The sky behind Bagend turned from cornflower blue to sapphire as the evening went on. The cicadas were chirping away , a crescent moon rose on high and millions of stars came out. I don’t think there could be an unfavourable time to visit really. You are completely enveloped by the magic of the place. Wish I could visit in the Spring time as you did-well, I almost have , thanks to your stunning photos! Thank you

    1. haha yes, I have a bad habit of getting bored and changing the theme every few months. I plan to stick with this one for a while! NZ is crazy beautiful, but I would recommend visiting in the summer only (or at least not in the winter – it is COLD now). Thanks for stopping by!

    1. I would definitely recommend planning your visit for springtime! The Hobbiton set is also located fairly close to Taupo, my favorite part of the North Island, which incidentally is also not far from the Tongariro Crossing, which is the highest-rated 1-day hike in New Zealand. 🙂

  2. I love this! What a fun day-trip. We just finished watching the third installment of The Hobbit movie this weekend, and I said to my husband when it was done, “We should go there!” I’m glad you did and shared your photos with us. My favorite line from the final movie, similar to one of the ones you shared above, was something like “If more valued home over gold, the world would be a merrier place.” Nice post!

    1. They did a wonderful job capturing what The Shire is supposed to be – idyllic, serene, and a place of comfort, rest, and nature. As soon as we finished the tour, we rushed home and started watching all three of the Hobbit movies again!! It was surreal to see on film the place we had just walked through.

    1. It really did feel like we were in the movie – the level of detail is astounding. Apart from the fact that the Hobbit holes are empty (you can’t even open some of the doors), you could probably live there what with the garden, fresh water, and inn at the end of the road. As soon as we finished up the tour, we started watching The Hobbit trilogy!

    1. Yes, we had VERY good luck! It had been raining all morning, and just before we arrived the storm clouds cleared. Everything was lush and green and beautiful, long before the summer drought set in and the hills yellowed.

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