Day #75 - The Shire Awaits & Beyond Bilbo's Door

We awoke today to the sound of cockerels crowing on the farm and a glorious morning sun. Although our accommodation falls within the "budget" category and is a contrast to all the splendid hotels we've stayed in, that doesn't mean the experience is any less amazing! We're both loving the campervan lifestyle! 

Due to the sensitive situation regarding our host (see yesterday's post) we thought it best to quietly sneak away and leave the family be. 

Our first journey today was a bit an unexpected one (because we've planned it) but it was a short one - a short five minute drive to the Hobbiton Movie Set tour. 

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies used this splendid countryside to creates the magical and idyllic settlement of Hobbiton you see in the films. In 1998, director Peter Jackson and his team of location scouts were searching for the iconic rolling hills and lush green pastures of Hobbiton. An aerial search led them to the Alexander farm, a stunning 1,250 acre sheep farm in the heart of the Waikato. They noted the area’s striking similarity to The Shire, as described by JRR Tolkien, and quickly realised that the Hobbits had found a home.

In one particular part of the farm, a magnificent pine tree towered over a nearby lake, adjacent to a rising hill. Bag End now sits atop that hill. Remind yourself:

After filming the Lord of the Rings, the sets were abandoned and since they, like most movie sets, were only designed to be temporary, they deteriorated. When production began on The Hobbit trilogy, they took the opportunity to rebuild the sets to last with a view to make it a tourist attraction.

People are often amazed at the richness of detail in movie sets and costumes; details that may only be on the screen for a matter of moments. A lot of time and effort is taken to perfect "the look" and for a fantasy film, this means that 99% of what is seen had to be custom made. An IKEA chair in a Hobbit's home wouldn't look right! 

Touring the sets, we were constantly blown away by the attention to detail and the depth of story these props told. Although it's no doubt been enhanced for the tourists, you can see the same love and care in the films.
So enough talking, I think I'll just post a load of photos for you to enjoy! 
Lot's of Hobbit-Holes - recognise any?

Bag End - Bilbo Baggin's famous home. 
A new experience that had just opened four days prior to our visit was "Beyond the Door" where the set designers and producers of the film created a hobbit's home that you can walk around and interact with. It was strangely thrilling to walk from the outside, through a classic circular Hobbit home door and into a fully furnished home of a hobbit. It felt like the owners had just stepped outside. The creators had put together a backstory for the home meaning that every object and every piece of furniture was there with purpose and reflected the characters that lived there. We almost felt like we were intruding!
The next part of our tour saw us heading over the bridge, past the Old Mill to the Green Dragon Inn where we could enjoy a beer while looking over the lake. Again the attention to detail was phenomenal and strange to think this was all once a farm.

The final stage of our adventure was lunch. Our package included the most wonderful buffet lunch in a big yellow tent. Needless to say, James and I are experts at buffets by now and you can be assured that we made the most of it!

After the most marvelous morning enjoying one of New Zealand's modern icons, we then spotted an opportunity while driving to our campsite of experiencing the definitive New Zealand icon - the kiwi!
We saw signs for a kiwi house and sanctuary so we just had to make a detour to experience it.
The kiwi house was also home to other birds and creatures houses in large aviaries or enclosures. Excited to see our first kiwi we headed in to the first enclosure where they had two kiwis. Being nocturnal animals, the enclosure was darkened and so you had to wait for your eyes to get used to the dim light and be able to penetrate the abundant foliage to see the elusive creatures.
Well we stared and we stared but couldn't see anything except plants!
Not discouraged, we headed around the rest of the exhibits and onto the next kiwi house. Again a dark enclosure with copious amounts of plants but apparently totally devoid of kiwis! We were most disappointed.
So we left a little down hearted not having seen New Zealand's national emblem but we did see some cute parakeets and ducks instead!
Our home for the evening was a lovely campsite complete with pool and hot tub. Also, a rather swanky BBQ area that we planned to make full use of for our evening meal - having bought lots of meats to cook. James cooked us both a lovely mixed meat wrap with fried onions and peppers that beautifully complimented the steak and chicken. Plus he took full advantage of that hot tub!
We ate our wraps and reflected on another amazing day. Loving campervan life!