Bag End at Hobbiton movie set
In case we haven't confirmed that we are total geeks, what with the thirty pounds of electronics we carry, let me now prove it to you by posting about our adventures hobbit hunting in New Zealand. We didn't set out planning to look for hobbits but once we got here, the Lord of the Rings references popped out everywhere. After a bit, the Tolkien spirit leaked into Patrick and, when I tripped over a root on a pathway and our backpack rattled around, Patrick exclaimed, "Fool of a Took!"
Matamata takes Lord of the Rings tourism to the next level because it is the location of Hobbiton and the only filming site in the country left in its filming state. Rather than digitally constructing the town, the producers constructed an entire town of hobbit holes, mills, and bridges in about three acres of a working sheep farm.
Hobbit holes at Hobbiton
Upon completion of the movies, the production crew began dismantling Hobbiton but heavy rains flooded the area and they left several of the hobbit holes standing. The owners took advantage of this opportunity and, after much negotiation with the studio, began allowing visitors into the farm to view the hobbit holes. Today, it is a peaceful place where sheep roam about the picturesque whitewashed holes peeping out from the grassy hills.
Even if you hate Lord of the Rings and hobbits, you should still go on this tour to experience a working sheep farm. We had no idea how skilled sheep shearers need to be; they apprentice for four years and, to make a living, most shear over 200 sheep per day.
As you can see from the above video, our sheep shearer slowed down the shearing process so we could videotape and photograph it, but even slowed down, he sheared this large sheep in under two minutes. The sheep did not struggle or squirm while being sheared and the wool cut from the sheep felt soft and surprisingly oily.
And, then, we bottle fed lambs! Imagine a very cute thing---say playing with the toes of a six month old baby, watching a kitten tangle itself in yarn, or getting kisses from a newborn puppy---and now multiply by two. Fluffy little lambs came rushing out of the gate like bats out of hell and demanded that we feed them. They sucked the bottles hard until every droplet of milk was gone and then they wandered around looking for head scratches and pets. We couldn't stop laughing and smiling for about 45 minutes afterwards.
Bottle feeding lambs
Anyway, let's get back to hobbit hunting, shall we? In Waitomo, we stayed at the Woodlyn Park Hobbit Motel, with a sloping roof, rounded windows and door, and rustic touches like a carved wooden table and canvas window curtains laid on oak curtain rods.
Woodlyn Park Hobbit Motel
After a month living in our cramped campervan, it was sheer luxury to spread out on a comfortable bed, walk into a big clean bathroom, and use our own tiny kitchenette. And, if hobbits aren't your thing, you could also stay in motel rooms built into a plane, train, and ship.
Interior of Hobbit Motel
As if hand feeding lambs and staying in a kitschy motel didn't make us feel like kids, we acted like ten-year olds at Puzzling World in Wanaka. We worked our way through the giant maze to find all four corners and towers, played with games at the main cafe area, and pretended that we were Ents and hobbits in the room of illusion.
Patrick as an ent, Akila as a hobbit in the room of illusion
We didn't find any hobbits this time in New Zealand so the search continues.