Have you ever watched a film so good that you wanted to be in the movie yourself? Let me clarify that. Have you ever fell in love with the movie location that you spend your life savings to set foot on it? Haha I might be exaggerating but once a blockbuster movie made its millions in the cinemas, the movie sets they left behind become an instant tourist attraction.
Exhibit A: Ubud, Bali. Before the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ movie, only travelers looking for an idyllic escape from the busy scenes in Kuta make their way to Ubud. After the film made its rounds in the cinema, tons of fans flock to Ubud to make their own journey as Julia Roberts did in the film. Consequently hoping to find either love or some clarity on their destiny.
Exhibit B: Iceland. Well, if winter has a synonym, that would be Iceland. The ‘song of fire and ice’ movie spent months filming the winter scenes in Iceland. Some of these locations are easily accessible through booking a day tour from Reykjavik. Last winter, I did my own GOT journey and I couldn’t be more cold. I mean, happy!
Exhibit C: Hobbiton, New Zealand. Actually it is on a town called Matamata. Before the LOTR and The Hobbit era, Matamata was simply a sleepy town with rolling green hills. Through a helicopter search, the director Peter Jackson, spotted the most perfect location for Hobbiton. The set was built using temporary materials only as there were no future plans after filming. After the filming of LOTR movie in the early 2000s, the set was left without maintenance.
Luckily, they made a prequel spinoff and rebuilt Hobbiton with permanent materials this time. Since then, Hobbiton became one of the most visited tourist attraction of New Zealand. It attracts up to 650,000 visitors each year with fans from all ages. This year, I was one of the lucky visitors to set foot on the film location of Hobbiton. I never thought this day would but there I was finally.
I couldn’t stop smiling while exploring the Hobbiton. It’s like a tiny town filled with Hobbit holes and charming gardens. Visitors can only come in and out through a guided tour for a smoother navigation around the area. For those who wanted to know more about the behind-the-scene trivias, they are advised to stay in the front where the guide usually is. I was there for the photos, to be honest. I’ve had enough LOTR and the Hobbit trivia for a lifetime so I relish every moment I had while in there. I happened to meet fellow Asian travelers so I had help when taking photos with me in it.
In some important film locations such as Bilbo’s house, we each took turn being photograph in front of Bilbos gate with the sign ‘No admittance’. It’s a classic photo op since this scene was quite memorable when Gandalf visited Bilbo for the party.
The tour is pretty straight forward and it is easy to wander around the hills and holes. However, it is highly not advisable since you must return with the same group you came in with. Sometimes, we must count off to know if nobody has gone astray.
The tour concluded with a cup of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. It lasted less than 2 hours with tons of stops for photo opportunities. Nevertheless, it is suitable to all fitness level.
A childhood dream came true today. The Hobbit holes are very colorful and well thought of. Even if you are not an LOTR or The Hobbit fan, it is still worth a visit to see and appreciate the amount of effort put into making the film set. It is truly magical in so many ways.