So Saturday morning the 8th we woke up really early head head from Hamilton to Matamata, where the Shire parts of the Lord of the Rings were filmed. In 1998 Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema ‘discovered’ the Alexander farm during an aerial search for suitable film sites. The fantastic views and rolling countryside of the Alexander farm closely resembled that of The Shire as described by JRR Tolkein. The farm was perfect. The large established pine tree, later to become know as the ‘party tree’ in the movies, was already perfectly placed in front of the lake. The surrounding rolling farmland was untouched by 20th Century clutter such as roads, building and power lines. This place was basically out in the middle of nowhere (a.k.a the “wop wops.”)
When we arrived at the Shire’s Rest Cafe to start the tour, we didn’t really know what to expect. We had arrived really really early, and even the parking lot was still closed. There was actually a little baby lamb that had “escaped” its fencing and was wandering around at the parking lot fence. We went into the gift shop where a girl was working and asked where we should park because the gates were still closed. She told us to go ahead and open the gate and we told her about the lamb. Evidently he is quite the escape artist.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from the tour, we basically thought it would be extremely touristy reconstructions of what had been in the movie. But, we had to sign a confidentiality agreement that we couldn’t post any pictures of what we saw online, or on any social media. We found out that they were prepping the area to start shooting the Hobbit next month and that they had already had some crew there and set designers preparing everything! What a treat! So, that is why unfortunately we can’t post any cool pictures from the Shire at all online, but if you’re lucky enough to come to New Zealand yourself, definitely take a tour there, but it has to be within the next couple of weeks because the tour guide said any day now they would be getting a call that they would have to stop taking tours down there.
The set was really intricate and the details were really thought out. Each hobbit hole was different with different windows and curtains. Each had a small garden and some had fireplaces and clotheslines. We each picked out one we would want to live in if we were a hobbit, and Matt and I, of course, picked the hole at the very top, which was Bilbo Baggin’s hole.
After the tour around the Shire, they did a short sheep shearing demonstration because the farm land that the Shire sits on is still functioning sheep farm land. I had a whole video of the sheep shearing but for some reason of Zi8 is malfunctioning and says the card is full.
We made our way to our next lodging, a really nice bed and breakfast type place in Waipu. It’s right on the Waipu cove on an estuary. They rescue a bunch of animals like alpacas, hogs, miniature horses, and sheep, which we pet (and then found out we weren’t supposed to). They also have kayaks which we used to row around, and threw the rugby ball around in like 3 inch deep water.
Today, Sunday the 9th, was spent starting with breakfast in the kitchen downstairs (which we later found out we weren’t supposed to use), a dip in the spa and then basically lounging around all day just being lazy. They have a theater room here and we just finished watching Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring which was really cool to watch again now having been at the actual place they filmed the Shire.