MIDDLE EARTH

My head is pounding with the slightest of movements and as I look over to my friend sitting beside me, I realise now is not the time to complain. Slumped over, her eyes red and glassy, she is practically silently screaming ‘I hate you’ at me. She doesn’t hate me (I hope), she just hates the fact that I encouraged her to continue drinking well into the early hours of morning. In normal circumstances we would still be nursing our hangovers in bed, but instead, I have dragged her on a 2 ½ hour bus ride to ‘Hobbiton, Middle Earth’.

Hobbiton is, of course, the home of Bilbo Baggins and the setting for the Peter Jackson films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Hobbiton is located in Waikato, 2 ½ hours from Auckland, New Zealand.

Although set in New Zealand and not in England as the books suggest, Peter Jackson chose this setting after he conducted an aerial search and discovered that the hills in Waikato looked like Hobbits had already begun setting up site.

So after what feels like a long and bumpy journey, we arrive at our destination, a picturesque site, full of rolling green hills and plenty of sheep. My hung-over friend, who had previously announced that she is not fan of the books or films, arises from her slumber and stares in awe.

Hobbiton is one of the world’s only preserved film sets. Upon arrival, you’ll notice that the site actually looks like people live there. The set is maintained for the tour groups that arrive en mass and even if you’re not a fan, I guarantee you will be impressed. I have always enjoyed the books and films and although I wouldn’t have described myself as obsessed, I can definitely say now that I am a self-confessed Middle Earth fanatic (and may have possibly imagined myself as Frodo with my dear friend Samwise next to me, albeit somewhat hungover).

How to get there: Direct flights run daily from most Australian capital cities to Auckland, New Zealand. You will then need to drive to Waikato or alternatively go on the guided tour through Hobbiton Tours which includes transport to the location and your entry into the site.

Places to eat: Although the site is quite remote, the film set houses its own pub The Green Dragon Inn where you can purchase food and drinks. The Green Dragon Inn is featured in some of the movies and as you step through the doors, you actually feel like you are being transported to Middle Earth.

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