New Zealand. Day five. Hobbiton

 Warning: you are about to learn what major dorks we are, and I don't even care.

I can not even begin to describe this experience. Actually, I can. But, I will fail. Because this place was like none other. Josh and I are HUGE Lord of the Ring fans. We own all the Lord of the Rings, watch them frequently, and have seen all the Hobbit movies(think we own those, too). So, needless to say, we were totally GEEKING OUT when we visited Hobbiton. It was a several hour trek from where we were staying, but sooo worth the drive. If you don't know what Hobbiton is, slap yourself. Hobbiton is the village where the Hobbits live. It's nestled in the Shire.  Obviously, It's were they live and work. And it's beautiful. Stunning, actually. The rolling hills, the green pastures, the ginormous trees. I want to live there.

This land was hand picked by Peter Jackson (Director of LOTR). He made a deal with the NZ army to help build Hobbiton. The land is owned by the Alexander family and is located in Matamata, Nz. The family still owns the land today and has allowed tours due to public demand. The original Hobbiton built for Lord of the Rings was not allowed to be toured. Once Peter Jackson came back asking permission to use the land again for the Hobbit, the family said yes with one stipulation - that Hobbiton be rebuilt/renovated to last forever so tours could be done. Hobbiton is treated as if real Hobbits live there. There is a real, fruitful, vast garden. All homes are kept up to date and well maintained. The Green Dragon Inn has a fully functioning Cafe. I wish I could share all the amazing details and inside scoop, but it would just take forever. The amount of work that Peter Jackson put into this place is mind blowing (like building roads and flying in hundreds of his own personal sheep). This was such a surreal experience and one I will seriously never ever ever forget.

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 photo newzealand-076.jpgThere are over 40 Hobbit holes on this hill. The ones at the bottom are smaller and consider lower class. These hobbits were poor and did most of the manual labor. Their homes weren't quite as intricate because they weren't filmed up close but rather used for back drop. As you work your way up the hill, the homes get larger and more detailed. At the very top was Bilbo Baggins home. He was the most wealthy Hobbit, so his home and door were the largest. Most of the homes consisted only a front door. Bilbo's home had the door and front hallway.  photo newzealand-077.jpg photo newzealand-079.jpg photo newzealand-078.jpg photo newzealand-084.jpg photo newzealand-088.jpg photo newzealand-080.jpgThis Hobbit door was at the very bottom.  photo newzealand-082.jpg

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Every house had incredible detail. I loved the tiny mailboxes. The details of each gave a hint as to what that hobbit did for a living. This home I believe belonged to one of the gardeners. photo newzealand-085.jpg

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The view from the top of the hill.

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This is Bilbo's tree. In Lord of the Rings, this tree was real. They actually discovered somewhere else in NZ and had it cut into 15 pieces and transferred here. For the Hobbit, this tree had to be man made because it needed to be smaller since the Hobbit happened first in the timeline. This tree was completely artificial. The leaves (all 2k) were hand painted multiple times until they achieved the perfect look.

And this Ladies and Gentlemen is Bilbo's house. (You couldn't actually go in, all that was built here was the door and the entry hall. The rest was shot in studio)

 photo newzealand-095.jpg photo newzealand-097.jpg photo newzealand-096.jpg photo IMG_9501.jpgBilbo's view
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I love these pics of C. They show just how small some of the doors were, and how tiny Hobbits would have been in adulthood. photo newzealand-101.jpg

 photo newzealand-103.jpgThis giant tree was the whole reason this piece of land was picked. The orginially were just going to shoot the party scene in this meadow, but once they started exploring, they realized it was the perfect location for Hobbiton. All the hills made perfect nooks for the Hobbit holes. This photo below is on the party meadow looking up at Bilbo's home. photo newzealand-109.jpg photo newzealand-104.jpg
This is the home of Sam Wise Gamgee. Frodo's best friend.
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That building is the Green Dragon Inn. It's fully functioning and serves beer, non alcholic ginger beer (which was super good), and all sorts of pastries and treats.  photo newzealand-107.jpg

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oh you know, just stopping on the trail to the Green Dragon Inn because C had a tantrum. #reallife photo newzealand-110.jpg

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For some reason, I don't have a picture of the front of the Green Dragon Inn. But, here is one of the inside. I'm almost positive Josh got this on the Go Pro film.  photo newzealand-118.jpg photo newzealand-120.jpg

The whole crew minus Bri (Daniel's fiance). She was sick that day, so her mom took her place. After Hobbiton, we drove several hours to see the Glow Worm Caves. It was exactly as it sounds. Deep caves were thousands of bugs that glow cling to the ceiling. It was breathtakingly beautiful. You weren't allowed to take pictures at all, but Josh was tricky and filmed it with the Go Pro. Afterward, we made the long car ride back to our NZ home. It honestly felt like the longest car ride of my life. The kiddos were just done. Willow cried for the last hour. We stuffed our faces with Mcdonalds and passed out once we got home.

And that concludes the best day of my life. Not really, but in the top five for sure. I still can't believe I walked on this set.


New Zealand. Day four.


That morning we were all in great need of relaxation. The past few days were go, go, go, and our bodies needed a break. We slept in, had our traditional NZ breakfast of juice, toast, and yogurt, and just were lazy. We took the kids to the school across the street to play on their playground. I walked Willow all around the schools campus and tried to imagine if we lived there. The school was so small but unique. Several sections were joined together by one common area outside. After playing and exploring the school, we went back to the house for naps. By mid afternoon, we were ready for a bit more site seeing and headed to Kariotahi Beach. Otherwise known as, the hottest beach on planet Earth. I'm not kidding. I had burn marks on my feet thanks to the black sand. But, it was crazy beautiful. Once we got close to the water, the sand was much cooler. Canaan had a serious meltdown. The kid hates sand with a real passion. Thankfully, we found a giant rock to sit on and eat a snack. Why can't we have beaches this beautiful in Mississippi. It's not fair one bit.

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  photo IMG_9400.jpg photo IMG_9404.jpg photo IMG_9420.jpg photo newzealand-063.jpg photo newzealand-060.jpg photo newzealand-065.jpg^trying to convince C to walk on the sand. He just wasn't having it.  photo newzealand-064.jpg photo newzealand-061.jpg^still offended by the sand and cold water photo newzealand-062.jpg photo newzealand-066.jpg

  photo newzealand-070.jpg photo newzealand-071.jpg photo newzealand-068.jpg photo newzealand-067.jpg^I remember asking Josh to snap a pic of me and Willow with Ocean. C had stolen the show with his fit, and I needed a minute to just stop and enjoy the ocean, the view, and as always, that furious NZ wind. I looked both ways and saw nothing but beach for miles and miles. I turned around and saw nothing but Mountains for miles and miles. Beach on one side, Mountains (or giant hills) on the other. I couldn't help but be in awe of the artistry of our Creator and just how small I am. So humbling.

Job 12:7-10 : “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

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And then we found a giant rock. C was happy his feet weren't touching sand. Momma was happy to sit and rest. Daddy happy to eat a snack. Willow happy to finally fall asleep. Mudgy happy to be with C. It was a good moment.  photo newzealand-072.jpg

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The sand may not have been my favorite, but overall, I loved this beach. Surprise, Surprise. You can see in the pic above some cars parked on the sand. At one point, one car was practically in the water. The sand is so dense you could easily drive on it. And although C wasn't a fan of the sand, I still wish I could go back to this place daily. On the drive back to our NZ I took a lot of Go Pro film. I tried so hard to take mental pictures of the rolling hills and a lush green farm land. I'm so glad I made myself pay so much attention, because as I type this, I can close my eyes and still see it all. I can remember the wind beating against my arm hanging out of the car. OH goodness, take me back. (yeah, I will probably end every post with that sentence. I just miss it okay.)