A Journey to Middle Earth

January 30, 2015 frvbali
the shire panorama_web

Serene scenery at Hobbiton

Text and Photos by Erza S.T.

In the land of imagination, there is a famous place created by the genius mind of J.R.R. Tolkien, where small creatures known as halflings, or hobbits, dwell. Tolkien added, “The hobbits named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant corner of the world they piled their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-Earth and the right of all sensible folk.” The Shire, or Middle-Earth mentioned here, is not just a fantasy, but an actual real place. It lies at the end of the world in a place called New Zealand. Here, The Shire is better known as Hobbiton.

Hobbit House

Hobbit House

In reality, it was the director Peter Jackson, who brought us both trilogies of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, who started the life of Hobbiton back in 2001. Located near Matamata in New Zealand’s North Island, Hobbiton was built on a nearby farm as the location for The Lord of The Rings. After the first trilogy was completed, the props and facades were removed but it was already becoming a popular tourist destination among fans.

Frodo House

Frodo House

Peter Jackson initiated the revival of The Shire when he started filming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Shire scenes were shot at the same location and unlike the previous set, Hobbiton was reconstructed out of permanent materials so that they would last for several decades. These days, Hobbiton is still open to the public and has become one of the most popular tourist sites in the world for true fans of Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings.

During my visit, I was up to join the first group of the day. The benefit of this was that we didn’t have to share the view with any other groups of tourists in front of us. I am not sure what caught my attention the most, but the combination of the stunning landscape with cute hobbit houses and their gardens were really overwhelming. I actually felt like in the movie and was kinda expecting to actually bump into Frodo, Sam or even the famous Bilbo Baggins himself.

Inside the Green Dragon Inn where you can enjoy a glass of cold cider

Inside the Green Dragon Inn where you can enjoy a glass of cold cider

During the two-hour guided tour, we followed the pathways around the 12-acre Shire to see the houses of the famous hobbits, including Frodo and Bilbo, which were the biggest. Highlights here included The Green Dragon Inn (where you can enjoy a real traditional meal like beef and ale pie and a free glass of delicious cold cider), The Mill, a double arched bridge and other structures and gardens built for the films. Fans or not, Hobbiton is truly a unique place where you can enjoy an experience being in a real movie set surrounded by stunning picturesque views.

Now if you are still curious about Middle-Earth and would like to see more of its existence and have a bit more money and time, then perhaps you could go a little up towards higher ground, and take a helicopter ride to visit the grand Mount Olympus near Nelson in the South Island, another location for the movies.

 Arriving at the peak of Mount Olympus with Reid Helicopters

Arriving at the peak of Mount Olympus with Reid Helicopters

A ride on Reid Helicopters will bring you to the peak of Mount Olympus where you can see the strange pinnacle rock formations that were used to portray the rugged country “South of Rivendell” in The Fellowship of The Ring, the first of the trilogy. It was here, as the nine rested and cooked a meal, that the Crebain crows of Saruman searching for news of the One Ring spied the travellers below. Hurriedly extinguishing their fire, they hid behind the pinnacles in an attempt to escape discovery.

Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus

Mt Olympus sprouts rocky outcrops, which over time have been eroded by weather to form incredible columnar shapes. Located in the Kahurangi National Park, it would not have appeared in the film at all if it wasn’t for Reid Helicopters; pilot Bill Reid. Bill personally flew Peter Jackson’s location scouts to the sub-alpine location where they instantly fell in love with the landscape and decided it would be perfect for showcasing South of Rivendell.This site is extremely remote and can only be reached by helicopter, as there are no walking tracks.

There are still many more interesting places to visit in New Zealand in order to follow “Tolkien Tracks” from Peter Jackson’s movies. However, Hobbiton and Mount Olympus gave me the most unique and memorable experiences. A journey to Middle Earth is definitely a must to all Tolkien fans or even just curious travellers who are interested in seeing an interesting part of New Zealand.

www.bushandbeach.co.nz/new-zealand-tours/
www.helicoptersnelson.co.nz/lord-of-the-rings/

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