Getting up at 6am on my first full-day back in New Zealand probably wasn’t the best idea, but I had good reason; I was going back to Hobbiton! I had previously been five years ago when I first came to New Zealand. They were building it back up for The Hobbit when I was there, so some of it wasn’t finished. I was excited then, but I was beyond ecstatic this time…Hobbiton now has a tavern 🙂
I was picked up from my hostel from the happiest man alive from Bush and Beach Tours. He was very perky for it being before 7am. It definitely turned my groggy morning into a happier one. He did a few more pick-ups before taking us down by the harbour where we would be joining another bus to venture off down to Hobbiton.
In true solo travel fashion, the bus was pretty full and our guide asked if anyone wanted to sit in the front seat…of course I jumped at the chance! Dawn was fantastic; she droves us through Auckland and its bloody traffic, making jokes and telling stories along the way. Our trip was a bit long; 2.5 hours out of Auckland, so I settled into the front seat and took in the views.
Our first stop was to get a coffee and food if anyone wanted. I took advantage and had a coffee and breakfast. It was delicious. I forgot how well Kiwis are at making coffees and baked goods. The shop had a mix of souvenirs and local art and gifts available, making it a fun place to browse before getting back on the bus.
The last hour or so was magic. You really get into ‘Hobbit’ territory then. Rolling green hills, beautiful tree-lined properties and stunning landscapes as far as you can see. I was really happy that I chose the front seat now.
We arrived to Hobbiton right before it opened, giving us the advantage of getting in before the masses. Our tour guide introduced us to our Hobbiton tour guide Kate, an American as well! She led us through the entrance of Hobbiton, feeding us fun facts and amazing stories about the movie set, the movies and everything in between.
Walking throughout the movie set, I was amazed at the detail put in to each hobbit house, each sign, each landscaped yard, everything. I mean, even the gardens were real! And of course they had a kitty and of course I had to take photos of it.
We zig-zagged throughout the set, stopping ever-so-often to hear more stories of the actors, the set and what it took to make these movies. We each had time to take our own photos in a hobbit house, explore and feel like we were in the movies too. Kate took her time with each of us, and I have to say, she’s not a bad photographer!
Seeing Bilbo’s house was a real treat as it was at the top of Hobbiton, looking out over the Party Tree, the Green Dragon Inn, and the rest of the little world. It was beautiful. Once again, Kate came to the rescue and took all of our photos at Bilbo’s hobbit house.
As the movie set started to fill up, we were well on our way down the hill to the Green Dragon Inn where we were given a complimentary pint! I had the amber ale and it was delicious. The beer is specifically brewed for Hobbiton!
I met some others on the tour and we took turns taking photos of each other, playing model and photographer after each take. I have to say, I had one of the best tour groups I’ve ever had. Everyone was from around the world, super excited to be there and very friendly. I’ve been on many tours where no one talks to one another, and they’re horrible. This group couldn’t have gone better!
After our little pint break, we were ushered to a private function area where we were presented with an impressive lunch buffet. I’m not talking chicken nuggets and chips for 40, I’m talking baked fish, chicken, roast beef carved for you, beautiful salads, breads, side dishes and dessert. It was one of the best buffets I’ve ever seen and enjoyed. To me, this was just the icing on the cake for this Bush and Beach tour. I was already having a blast, but having delicious food to celebrate the end of the tour was perfect.
We stuffed our faces, had a chat and were off! We regrouped with Dawn and she took us up to the Hobbiton Movie Set souvenir shop. This shop was full of everything Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit merchandise. They even sold the beer brewed for the Green Dragon. If my bags weren’t so full already, I would have bought a case of them!
The souvenir shop also is the main ticket office for Hobbiton Movie Set tours. They pile heaps of people on big coaches and take them to the set…one after another. The line was so long to get a ticket and that made me so happy to know I went with a small, private tour.
As we waved goodbye to Hobbiton, I was overwhelmed with happiness. It was my second day back in New Zealand and I was already taking advantage of one of the best attractions in the country with the best tour I’ve ever been on…ever.
We stopped for ice cream on the way back and made our way to Auckland just before 4pm. It was a long day, but it was completely worth it. Even if you’re not a fan of the movies, or don’t even know what I’m talking about (many on our tour had never seen the movies!!), this is a tour that is worth it regardless. Bush and Beach Tours, you really outdid yourself with this one!
To book Bush and Beach’s Hobbiton Express Tour, click here: Hobbiton Express Tour
About the author:
Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found on Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that inspires young adults to utilize the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s enjoying the Pacific Northwest and her mom’s tacos.