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February 24, 2020
Tauranga, New Zealand: A Day in the Shire (Russell)

Russell writes…

We had a second day in Auckland yesterday, but we didn’t go on any excursions. Instead, we gave ourselves a slow and relaxing day. We went shopping in the morning: Russell looked at board games (he didn’t buy anything); Gail looked at fabrics (she bought two craft kits).

One of the reasons we took it easy was because of our big day today. Our ship arrived in Tauranga at 5:45 am this morning, and we had an excursion scheduled for 7:00 am. Our destination: Hobbiton!

Back in 1998, director Peter Jackson was looking for suitable places to film his “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. In the nearby town of Matamata, he decided that the Alexander farm would be the perfect place to build the Shire, the home village of the hobbits.

Director Peter Jackson looked at this terrain and saw hobbits

The original sets were torn down and destroyed after filming. Amazingly, Kiwi moviegoers analyzed the films and deduced where the scenes had been shot. The farm became a pilgrimage site for dedicated fans. So when the series prequel, “The Hobbit,” was filmed, the Shire was reconstructed… this time with permanent structures.

Since 2009, the Alexander farm has conducted guided tours of “Hobbiton Movie Set.” About 30 of us took a one-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Tauranga to Matamata, where we spent three hours on a guided tour of the Shire.

Here is a photo album of what we experienced.

We were one of the first groups to tour the site, but it was still very crowded

The only artifical tree on the property is directly above Bag End, the home of Bilbo (and later Frodo) Baggins

After the tour, we had a snack at the Green Dragon Inn

Here are a couple of panoramas showing the breadth of the site. Be sure to scroll left and right to see everything!

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