Ignoring the Kiwi encounter as interesting but not exciting and the Buried village as both not exciting nor interesting we will skip Sept. 27 and move along to Sept. 28.
Today was a busy day. We had to be up and ready by about 8.20 am to be picked up for our tour of Hobbiton. I was quite certain that it was going to be a disappointment. I kept telling Beth Anne, who read “The Hobbit” when she was 7, that it was likely to just be the shells of the hobbit houses and that it might not look like Fellowship, which she had watched just prior to our leaving. We had already had one disappointment when our booking to stay at the hobbit rooms fell through and she had to stay in the boat motel instead. I was trying my best to prepare her for a second.
There was no need. The tour was great. We were picked up by Ben who was lovely and chatty and talked politics and living and Sir Howard Morrison’s death. The weather was miserable on the way, raining and cold. The cold complaint level up to Code Green at this point.
When we arrived at the Alexander Farm we stopped to use the toilets and see the pet sheep. Yes, there are pet sheep and farm sheep and they are different.
The tour van drove us from the entry to the remains of Hobbiton. We discovered interesting facts like the reason Hobbiton still exists at all is because of bad weather which set in about halfway into demolition making any further demolition dangerous. New Line Cinema was required to demolish all sets after use. Because the weather was so bad they had to delay at the farm. During the time that they waited for the weather to clear, people began to visit. The Alexanders began negotiations with New Line to halt demolition and begin a tour. After two years it was finally agreed upon. The Alexanders are very limited in what they can do to the hobbit holes. They cannot use any film information at all. They cannot make the remains look the way they did in the films. But they can give tours.
We got to see the Party Tree and field. We got to see The remains of the Gafter’s house, Rosie and Sam’s house and Bag Shot Row. We were able to see the stairs where Frodo hugged Gandolf which still remain. We were able to go into Bag End which is board and beam as the interiors where shot on set in Wellington. The tour guide was accommodating and took pictures for everyone. We learned about filming and gardening and how they created the world of the Hobbits in very, very careful detail. She told us about growing the gardens in front of the hobbit holes with plants laced with poison to keep out the local possum. She also told us about the gardens full of plants all in various states of growth so that any plant which was damaged during a day’s filming could be dug up and replanted. This, of course, made my OCD heart flutter.
After the tour we went to the sheering shed to watch a sheep get sheered. It was an amazingly fast process and we watched the slowed-down version. One of the sons is a champion sheer and on a good day in the spring will sheer 500-700 sheep a day. That works out about 2 sheep a minute. Then, then they topped that off by allowing the girls to feed lambs. They were about 1-2 weeks old. Lambs may in fact be the cutest things ever, but still yummy.
Then we were treated to tea, which consisted of an apple, a meat pie, a really good cookie and of course tea. Finally it was back to Rotorua and a chance to relax before heading out to Tamaki Maori Village for our Maori experience.