Where Hobbits Come From

A woman who loves Lord of the Rings more than you love your children greeted us as we boarded the Hobbiton bus.

All 4’10” of her beamed brightly as she began to regale us with tales of the casting of LOTR. She bemoaned her misfortune at missing the original hobbit casting call — a tiny, mysterious wanted ad in the local paper.

We drove for miles over beautiful bright green sheep-heaven hills while our almost-a-hobbit guide began a most enthusiastic narration of the landscape and peppered us with tales from the movies.

Even with this introduction, rounding the corner on Hobbiton was more magical than I expected.

There’s always a distinct, intrinsic delight in seeing something from the silver screen in real life. Whether it’s the filming location for your favorite Mad Men bar scene or the Arc de Triomphe, there’s something terribly satisfying about seeing it, feeling it, experiencing it for yourself.

Hobbiton, however, is something else.

It isn’t a real place, but it feels so real that you kind of start to believe it. The delicately overgrown plants. The windows slightly ajar. Tiny socks swaying on laundry lines. Gentle hills dotted with adorable round doors. The little Hobbiton bulletin board. Throw in the fact that you get real beer at the Green Dragon, and you’re suddenly sure you’ve stumbled into a magical world mysteriously lacking inhabitants.

Charming devotion to the details makes it magic.

It’s easy to see why they chose this spot in New Zealand to play the Shire. It’s so terribly idyllic that it’s hard to believe that Sauron is just a couple hundred miles away.