Monday, January 4, 2016


Even though it was wildly financially irresponsible, I can't resist an infection of the travel bug and took a quick trip to New Zealand with our friend Marisol while she was visiting for her winter break. No regrets. New Zealand is awesome and it was equally awesome to get to spend quality time with Marisol.

We went to the North Island to visit with some former colleagues from Kuwait, and no trip to the North Island is complete without a tour of Hobbiton.

So, I'm not really a Lord of the Rings kinda person. I've never seen the movies (though I've begun the first one probably a dozen times), never read the books. I am ashamed to call myself a middle school reading teacher, but I just have never been one for elves and fairies kind of books--Harry Potter excepted. BUT, even without having seen any of the movies, this tour was pretty cool. I learned a lot of movie trivia and got to take in BEAUTIFUL New Zealand views.

Spoiler alert: If you plan on ever going to Hobbiton, I'm about to ruin the tour for you, so STOP READING NOW!

Fun LOTR movie trivia fact 1: the "town" of Hobbiton was built on a small part of a sheep farm that was found by movie scouts during an aerial tour. They knocked on the farmer's door and said they would like to see the farm as they might consider it as a set for the new Lord of the Rings movie. The farmer was not impressed ("Lord of the what?" He apparently said when meeting with Peter Jackson during negotiations), but his sons likely saw dollar signs and welcomed the scouts onto the property!

Fun LOTR movie trivia fact 2: The set was originally built out of temporary materials (read: LOTS of styrofoam), but shortly after the movies were released, eagle-eyed Kiwis recognized the mountain range in the background and started showing up to the farmer's door asking for a peek at the hobbit holes. An enterprise was born.

Fun LOTR movie trivia fact 3: The holes in Hobbiton are actually just the facades. The inside scenes were shot at Peter Jackson's studio in Wellington.

Sorry, y'all. There's nothing inside Bag End.
Fun LOTR movie trivia fact 4: When Hollywood returned to film The Hobbit, the farmer's sons subtly suggested that the set be rebuilt using permanent materials, thus solidifying a large source of income for as long as nerd pilgrims will make the trip. The family also continued with the sheep farming for when, if ever, the nerds lose interest.

Fun LOTR movie trivia fact 5: Profits from the Hobbiton tours are now shared between Warner Brothers, Peter Jackson, and the farmer's family. The farmer, however, has passed the farm on to his oldest son, and has a smaller farm nearby.

Like I said, even without an abiding love of all things Hobbit, I thought Hobbiton was pretty cool. And you get to cool down at the end of the tour in the replica Green Dragon pub and pose in cute hobbit doorways for a SUPER touristy pic.

Tyler's dad is a major Lord of the Rings fan--the books and the movies--so I will be making another trip to The Shire when his family comes to visit. Perhaps I'll study up and watch the movies beforehand.

Vicariously yours,

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