The last thing to cross off my New Zealand bucket list was a visit to the Hobbiton film set in Matamata. I am a big fan of Lord of the Rings films and books and the Hobbit book. (Not so much the Hobbit films) So I thought it would be a dream come true to visit one of the most iconic sets from these films.
I was so excited to go but when I arrived I didn’t have that same enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful area of the country and the film set is gorgeous. And it feels like you could stumble across Frodo whilst you’re walking there.
Of course, if you could even see him through the hordes of tourists streaming through that is. My tour had 40 people on it and as far as I could see there were at least 4 other tours going on as well. I think that’s the first problem I had with it: it was too commercialised. My tour guide said some people come here with no idea what it’s about, just so they can take photos to show off to friends back home.
I think that epitomises it for me. People were going as it was a “must-do” tourist attraction, spending more time trying to get the best hobbit selfie rather than exploring and enjoying the moment of being there. And it was so over crowded. During most of my travels I tried to avoid crowds, choosing longer or less popular hikes. That’s why I enjoyed doing the Tongariro Crossing so much in Spring with about 100 people in total compared to the 30 000 who do it in summer in one day. Crazy, right?
The actual tour was good in that the guide gave you some stories about the site and the filming of it. It was just very limited to the one track and time limits.
However having said all that I think what I really disliked about the whole was that I will never be able to watch the films in the same way again. And in a bad way. Let me explain.
The films are fantasy right, and visiting the set of a fantasy set just killed all the magic in it. Now I have visited the set and learnt some of the tricks of the trade used to film the scenes there including using different sized hobbit holes for the different characters, I know that it never was and never will be real. The pretending is over. And that has ruined it for me.
So when I watch the films now, I won’t be immersed in their world instead I’ll be watching out for the beads of sweat on bilbo’s forehead as he gives his birthday speech. The sweat being that his birthday cake with 111 candles had caught on fire a few feet away.
So basically I want fantasy to remain real to me in my head and not sucked into the real world of film making. Not too much to ask right?
I’m glad I went though as otherwise I would regret the not going even more. I just think from now on I will think more carefully before I visit something similar in the future.