Hobbiton

A visit to Hobbiton was expected to be a highlight of our trip and it didn’t disappoint. It started well when we woke to a clear blue sky and warmth from the sun. We had a noisy but free nights camping. The occasional sound of a passing lorry disturbed my slumber, but I soon dropped off back to sleep (I think).

After coffee we set off on the short distance to the location of the Hobbiton Film Set. Arriving early we were surprised to see so many people already there, yawning but eager. After purchasing our tickets, we managed to get ourselves on the third bus to leave the site.

The set is some 10 minutes away on the Alexander Farm, which is a working sheep farm. We followed our guide through various sets from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The attention to detail is phenomenal and the tour itself was excellent even to the free glass of ale or cider in the Green Dragon towards the end of the tour. Much of the original sets were in polystyrene but this has now been replaced in more permanent materials. For those of you who have seen the films, the director Sir Peter Jackson kept implicitly to the story in the books and in the creation of his film sets he insisted on accuracy, no matter what the cost. It is obvious.

What a lovely way to spend several hours, immersing yourself in the phantasy of your teenage years. It is a credit to Tolkien that his stories have appealed to many nations, as today, they were certainly represented in this little shire of New Zealand. Stepping along the same tracks and resting against the same circular doorways as those imagined little heroes, is the stuff of dreams.

A gorgeous day and it remained so all the way to our next camp site in Drury, just outside Auckland. As usual we stopped several times to have a look at things and also for lunch. We were very conscientious today as we both had salads.

After checking in we set off to explore in the van, first to ogle at the plush properties in the hills behind and then to walk along the estuary near the centre of the town. The tide was out but the sunset across its mudflats was something quite special, very nearly Turnerish!

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We returned in the dark to our campsite, fortunate that it was in the grounds of an Irish pub. Now wasn’t that lucky?

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