We had waited until the end of our NZ trip to hit this “must-see”. We are not diehard LOTR fans, but we knew that Hobbiton deserved a visit and we weren’t disappointed. We had shown the kids the LOTR trilogy over Christmas but not the Hobbit movies (Ok….we still need to watch the Hobbit movies).  It is recommended to buy tickets before since there are a limited number of buses for the tour a day.  The Shire is located on a working sheep farm owned by the Alexander Family. You board a bus at the Welcome Center and meet your tour guide, it is a short ride onto the Alexander Farm to the Shire. Access to the Shire is not allowed to the public unless on a tour. The filming location was initially discovered during a helicopter scouting mission. Peter Jackson decided on the location for its resemblance to the Tolkien description. Our tour was about 2 hours. Although there were several other tour groups on the property, there was enough room to wander around the tour group was small enough to interact with the guide. We had plenty of time to take pictures and notice all the details in the Shire. Our guide pointed out differing sizes of hobbit holes that helped provide size perspective with filming. The Shire is home to 44 different hobbit holes, gardens, bridges, and countless details. The holes are just facades, the interiors are created at a filming studio. Except for the Bag End hole, this hole has an entryway. The Party Tree? A fake! Each leaf was hand-painted and attached to the support. The original set of LOTR was taken completely down after filming but not for the Hobbit rebuild. The “village” was built for filming and then left in place as a tourist site. The tree above Bag End is completely artificial. The tree was constructed of fiberglass and the silk leaves are hand painted. The Green Dragon Inn is the latest addition to the Shire. The interior shots for the movie were obtained in a studio but the interior now resembles the set. Several custom drafts (and non-alcoholic selections) and food selections are available at the inn. This stop is a must for LOTR/Hobbit fans. For a family that enjoyed the movies, this stop was a hit!

We headed back to Hamilton for another escape room. We smoked this room! It was our largest conquest so far!

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We finished our NZ tour with Auckland. Stephen and I fell in love with this country 20 years ago and the appeal is still present. Over the 49 days touring NZ, our kids fell for this country also. Some of our best experiences from this year were in NZ. This country should be on everyone’s bucket list.