Monday, September 23, 2013

Kiwi As!

Two things Kiwi's are famous for: rugby and hobbits. Two things we did in one day!

After Dave's interview in Wellington, we made the seven and a half hour trek (524 km) back to Hamilton. Hamilton is a city that is landlocked (too bad...) but still has some beautiful walks along the Waikato River.

Dave and I stayed at a holiday park there, which is a very common thing in New Zealand. They are places where you can mostly park your RV, but you can also stay in little cabins with our without bathrooms or you can stay in your own little apartment style cabin with a kitchen and bathroom. We chose to car camp, which as the receptionist told us, was very 'brave' of us. It was after all the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, and a balmy 15 degrees Celsius during the day.  When you camp, you can use the communal kitchen and bathroom facilities. Some holiday parks (not this one) also have pools, saunas (aka hot tubs), giant bouncy pillows and nice cozy lounges.

After a cozy night in the back of our Subaru, we headed to a little family farm outside of a town called Matamata (so good they named it twice!). On our way there, I almost killed Dave and I by taking a corner too quickly... and veered a little too far over to the right. That's the scary thing about driving in New Zealand. A lot of their car accidents involve tourists driving. It was definitely a wake up call!!

When you arrive at Hobbiton, it looks very much like a farm, which it is. It was a farm converted into a movie set (for Lord of the Rings), back to a farm, and then back to a movie set/tourist attraction (for the Hobbit).  The family that owns it actually has three sons, one looks after the farm, the other looks after the movie set business, and the third is an accountant.

After we secured our seat on the tour bus, Dave and I sat down to have second breakfast at the cafe at the entrance. There is also a store where you can buy set goodies, like Gandalf's staff, the Evenstar (Arwen's jewel), and The Ring in various forms of metals.  I REALLY REALLY wanted a ring, but they were insanely expensive... $185 for the basic ring, no chain...or you could get a legit gold ring on a gold necklace for a measly $800... one day... my precious...

Gandalf's Gap and our guide. Frodo and Gandalf ride through here on a cart in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Our guide was named Sam (Haha!!) and he had a ring, on a necklace.  He was a great guide and made sure we all had plenty of time to take pictures.  Everyone on the tour was quite excited, including Dave and I. It was everything we had hoped it would be.

Some interesting facts about Hobbiton:
  • The set is maintained by the people who actually worked on it for the films. 
  • The family who owns the farm is working on the rights for their guides to dress up as hobbits. As of right now, the licensing agreement is too expensive (in the millions...)

Hobbit holes! Look at that garden!

  • The set is worth $80 million. The set is still owned by the film company. 
  • There is a $2 million tree on set that was handmade for the Hobbit. It sits on top of Bag End. It was handmade for the Hobbit. 
  • None of the Hobbit holes are developed, all interior shots were shot in Wellington.

More of Hobbiton. Bag End is under the scraggly looking tree.

  • It took Peter Jackson two years to find the location for shooting.  All the fences and buildings in the distance were edited out during shooting.
  • We were not allowed to get too close to Bag End in case they had to do some emergency filming for the Hobbit.
  • The Green Dragon serves beer and cider exclusively brewed for the set location. 

Something for the tourists.

  • It will blow your mind!
  • The party tree is turning 111 years old next year, when the third Hobbit movie comes out. That's the same age as Bilbo! 

From the Party Field.

Bag End!

Inside the Green Dragon

Green Dragon

After Hobbiton, we headed back to town for lunch. Dave and I had bought tickets to the All Black's game in Hamilton that evening. It was actually the first sporting event Dave and I have ever been to together. We've been dating for four and a half years! 

We walked to the stadium and were amazed by how many Argentinian fans there were!  The atmosphere was quite electric!  We also bought All Black's toques to try to fit in. Everyone was sporting some sort of fan gear. When we got there I decided to have an 'All American hot dog'. This consisted of an odd tasting hot dog covered in fried onions and a bit of cheese. It was not what I was expecting.  Dave and I splurged on covered seats that were a little further back, which turned out well because it rained for 80% of the game. Of course, I also missed the awesome pre-game fireworks while I was waiting in line at the bathroom. 

I'm not usually one for sitting and watching sports, but rugby (and occasionally hockey) is an exception!! It's so much fun to watch, and to hear the crowd react to all the plays. Dave and I didn't really know the rules, but we oo'ed, aah'ed and boo'ed along with the crowd.  The result was not surprising, because apparently the All Black's haven't lost since 2009.  Overall, a really fun experience. There is only one game left in the season, but there is always next year! Oh, and did you know Canada has a rugby team? Who knew?

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