On our way to Matamata to visit the Hobbiton village from the Lord of the Rings and recent Hobbit movies, our GPS took us through some remote roads far in the New Zealand backcountry. Having driven the winding roads the last few days, we’ve come to realize a few things:
1. New Zealand must have created their roads by just mimicking the river path as there is no direct way to anywhere
2. You can never beat the GPS as you can never actually go the posted speed limit (limit is 100km/hr across most roads, yet they are consistently routing you through hairpin turns)
3. New Zealanders would make really good formula 1 race car drivers as they are extremely comfortable taking those turns at over 100km/hr and have no issues passing you on a blind turn
|Typical warning sign in NZ to ‘slow down’ to 85km/hr around a sharp turn|
Set back in the rolling green hills just outside Matamata, the Hobbiton movie set was created on the Alexander farm in 1999. As we climbed onto the bus, Jordan was initially disappointed thinking we were going to be just driven around the set, however was happy when they let us off the bus and allowed us to wander at our own pace.
|The Hobbiton Movie Set|
With over 44 hobbit holes nestled inside the hills, it felt like you were stepping into the movie with Bilbo Baggins and Frodo about to go on an adventure! Some of the hobbit holes were created at 90% life size for the scenes with the Hobbits, while others were created at only 60% for those with Gandolf so he would look like a giant compared to Frodo in the movie scenes.
We strolled by Bilbo Baggins famous green door at Bag End as well as Sam and Rosie’s humble hobbit home in the hill. I really wanted to take a peak inside but that was reserved for premium tours and guests unfortunately.
|Bilbo Baggin’s Hobbit hole|
|Sam & Rosie’s Hobbit home|
They even re-created The Dragon Bar where Celtic music was playing and a free beverage was poured from their exclusive brewery tap. I had a delicious Cider that was crisp and not too sweet while Jordan enjoyed a smooth dark Stout. I wish they sold cases as that was one of the best Cider’s I’ve ever had! In true New Zealander style, they prefer to keep it exclusive to the Green Dragon.
|The Green Dragon Inn|
After a quick dinner in the car (PB sandwiches) we were off to Rotorua for the night to find ourselves a campsite. We chose the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite at Okareka Lake just outside Rotorua nestled on a beautiful lake. Since the night was chillier than we expected, we decided to try camping inside the Ractis! It was a huge success as it offered us more room than our tent yet the comfort of a bit more insulation from the cold! The window shields even offered us shelter from the rain while allowed fresh air to flow through. Car sleeping test a success!
|Car camping in the Ractis! Success!|
In the morning a friendly pair of ducks waddled up from the lake to the car and were quite comfortable hanging around us at the car. Once I realized they were probably looking for food, I grabbed a piece of our bread and started breaking off pieces to feed them. They quickly were in competition for the food, jumping over each other to get at the bread and were quite good at catching it in their beak mid-air!
Check out Episode 7: Hobbiton