“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
While there is no denying the fact that I am an unabashed nerd from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, my love for Tolkien and these books has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it’s set in another world filled with magic and fairytale creatures. The reason this series resonates with me so strongly are the themes repeated throughout the thousands of pages of text.
Adventure. Courage. Optimism. Hope.
Finding the courage and strength within yourself to step away from the comforts of home in search of adventure. Endless optimism that things will work out and hope even in the face of overwhelming odds. But above all, I love the idea that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
The heroes of these books are not the warriors or wizards, but the small, overlooked hobbits who are more often than not keen to stay in their comfortable hobbit holes and tend their gardens rather than go off exploring the world – but when the choice is presented to them in black and white, not only do they rise to the occasion but they are the ones who save the day!
Talk about inspirational!
In spite of the hairy feet (ew, not cool Tolkien) I’d like to think that if I lived in Middle Earth, I would have been a hobbit. No shame.
The origins of my interest in New Zealand over a decade ago are based off of these books and movies, and now that my dreams are coming true, and I finally get to call this beautiful country home, there was one LOTR place above all I knew I had to visit first.
Hobbiton. Yes, it actually exists, and yes, you can visit there.
It didn’t talk long in New Zealand for me to channel my inner hobbit, and after all, what could be better than visiting the Shire?
So come with me on my journey to Middle Earth, starting with Hobbiton.
1. After a little hesitation, find your courage and sense of adventure
While I’ve always had a wild streak and an innate love for travel, my personality is totally divided in that I am also a creature of comfort who loves routine and the idea of a home. While I mean be a gigantic 5’4 on the outside, I’m a hobbit on the inside in many ways.
Hell, it took me 10 years to finally come to New Zealand! But what matters is that I am here now.
For me, and what I’m guessing for many of you, the hardest step you will ever take in terms of travel is the first one out the front door.
But like Frodo and Bilbo, it’s important to find within yourself the strength to leave the comforts of a “normal’ life and home and head out into the unknown. Whether that means going to NYC for a weekend or moving all the way to New Zealand like me, it’s up to you to define adventure.
But never forget, it’s also up to you take that first step.
2. Then come to New Zealand and head straight to Hobbiton
If I wasn’t buried under mountains of student loan debt, I would buy everyone a flight to New Zealand.
Let’s be honest here, the price of getting to New Zealand can be a big deterrent for a lot of people. I can rant until I am blue in the face why the flight is worth the cost ten times over, but I’ll save that for another day.
Now let’s imagine you’ve already arrived in New Zealand – you couldn’t stay away. Don’t worry, I know the feeling.
Once you are in the North Island, Hobbiton is pretty close to a lot of places and super easy to get to. Tucked in between Taupo, Rotorua, and Auckland, Hobbiton nowadays is found in a little place called Matamata aka the Shire.
You can’t miss it since it’s right off Buckland Road (for LOTR super fans, you’ll be pleased to hear that this road was named long before the movies came to town).
Rolling green hills dotted with, yes you guessed it, sheep, give way to beautiful farmlands sprinkled with winding roads. There is nowhere in New Zealand more Shire-esque than Matamata.
3. Prepare to fall head over heels in love with Hobbiton
Once you walk through that stone pathway you realize instantly why hobbits rarely leave the Shire.
It’s magical. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful.
Hobbiton is the kind of place that you want to retire to, raise your family in, write a novel or learn to paint. With sweeping views of the surrounding valleys, lush green grass and gardens that never end, and more cozy hobbit-holes than you could ever imagine, Hobbiton is paradise on earth.
You would need an awfully big adventure to lure you away from there.
4. Shoes are optional, costumes are encouraged
If you’re going to be a hobbit, it’s important to dress the part. Unfortunately I left my capri pants back in the 90’s so I had to make do with leggings and a tunic.
Lucky for me there were others around who were more prepared.
I think it’s safe to say next time I go to Hobbiton, I’ll be going as Frodo.
5. Find your favorite hole to call home
This is actually so much harder than it looks.
Wandering from one cozy, quaint and idyllic hobbit-hole to the next, I found myself saying outloud, “oh this is my favorite! No wait, THIS is my favorite! Nevermind, there’s Bag End – I’m moving in!”
Unfortunately real estate in the Shire doesn’t come cheap so you’ll have to move in fast or risk losing out on a grandiose underground den.
Wait, this one is DEFINITELY my favorite! What’s yours?
6. Love your garden and tend your flock
As Bilbo described hobbits in the Fellowship film – “for all hobbits share a love of things that grow.”
Country living at it’s finest, the bucolic nature of hobbits is none so evident as in their love for gardening. City slickers be warned, Hobbiton is so lovely because it’s so green and rustic and there’s not much going on unless Gandalf is in town with his fireworks. So fling your shoes off and go run around with the sheep.
And don’t forget your gardening tools.
7. Bring your appetite
If there is one thing hobbits love more than gardening, it’s food. In fact, this might be the giveaway that I was meant to be a hobbit.
With 6 round meals a day, it’s important to keep space in your tummy and lose notches in your belt when channeling your inner hobbit.
Breakfast – Second Breakfast – Elevenses – Luncheon – Afternoon Tea – Supper
Luckily there is a lovely cafe called the Shire’s Rest at Hobbiton where you can indulge in tea, cakes, coffee (thank heaven) and even second breakfasts and luncheons.
Finally, a lifestyle that encourages binge eating. This I can get behind!
8. It comes in pints?
What does it say about my personality that one of my favorite parts of Hobbiton was the pub?
Let’s not read too much into that but, getting to hang out inside the Green Dragon while sipping ginger beer and cider by a roaring fire pretty much rocked my socks off and solidified the fact that I need to figure out a way to move permanently to the Shire.
9. Don’t forget to share your stories and inspire others
Just as Bilbo inspired Frodo to leave the Shire, I am hoping to inspire some of you to come to Hobbiton one day too!
Sometimes I forget in my Tolkien nerdiness that not everyone realizes that Hobbiton is an actual place you can visit in New Zealand. For a long time you could visit the area where the Shire in the Lord of the Rings was filmed but the sets were long gone and you had to imagine everything.
But with the revival of the Hobbit movies in the past few years, they rebuilt the sets permanently so everyone can visit. Thank you Peter Jackson!
Since I overshare on a regular basis, it was standard business for me to upload an absurd amount of photos of Hobbiton on every social media channel possible.
And luck was on my side because without warning two days ago, Instagram shared my photo of Sam’s hobbit hole on their official pages, earning me a bazillion new
stalkers followers and thousands of future hobbits questioning me how to get to the Shire as soon as possible.
At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, it was like fate. Like I’m supposed to be in Middle Earth, I mean New Zealand at this time in my life and everything is going to work out.
So don’t forget to share your adventures in the Shire! You never know what could happen.
10. Remember to leave Hobbiton in search of more adventures
You could easily stay in Hobbiton forever but the other adventures of New Zealand beckon you on.
Fellow hobbitses, I know how hard it is to leave Hobbiton in the Shire. Such a snug, unperturbed place never existed, and it took all my self-control not to grip the doors of the Green Dragon and be pulled kicking and screaming from Hobbiton.
Yeah, I could live there.
But just like so many great hobbits before you, life is about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying things you normally would stick your nose up at.
It’s not easy. Yeah, sometimes you get chased by dragons and hunted by orcs and get bit by giant spiders, but at the end of the day you will have unforgettable experiences and maybe even save the world, so it all works out right?
Hobbiton will always be there for you to come back to, remember that.
Did you know you could visit Hobbiton? Would you like to come here one day? Recognize any of these places from the movies? Spill – which Tolkien character would you be? A hobbit like me?
Many thanks to Hobbiton Tours for hosting me – like always I’m keeping it real, all opinions are my own – like you could expect anything less from me!