Hobbiton Adventure: A Journal from New Zealand by Rachael Ashdown
Day1: I’m going on an adventure!
Smaug greeted me upon landing in Auckland (you know, the Air New Zealand plane). It hit me like one of Sam’s frying pans: I am in Middle Earth! And so my two weeks of questing began.
Hopping on Shadowfax (our magnificent white rental van), with cries of “Show us the meaning of haste!” we rode straight to Matamata to catch the last Hobbiton tour of the day. Like Bilbo squeezing through the enchanted doors of Thranduil’s Halls, we made it with moments to spare, hopping aboard Big John’s bus to the Shire’s Rest. After some provisioning (souvenir shopping), we began a relaxing sunset tour of the movie set. Our guide, Tobias, was cheery as a hobbit and wise as a wizard. But I kept up with his riddles, answering all of his trivia questions with speed and accuracy akin to the arrows from Legolas’s bow. Answering the last one earned me the chance to reenact a scene from An Unexpected Journey, which I did with far less grace than Bilbo himself. Perhaps I needed a soundtrack to motivate me. Or perhaps one of Gandalf’s fireworks chasing me.
Ending our fine tour of the set, and after taking photos of the eclectic collection of Hobbit holes (for design ideas for my future and probably imaginary home), we sat back for a pint at the Green Dragon. As a true fan, I could not partake in the Hobbit’s brew without singing the proper song, for as we all know “the only brew for the brave and true comes from the Green Dragon.” My loyal companion and I did two encores for the amusement of our hosts and our fellow guests. But, “Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable Hobbits,” and all too soon we were on our way back to Matamata, to rejoin Shadowfax and to seek a sheltered place free of Orcs to camp for the night.
Rachael is a freelance writer fresh out of college with a taste for fantasy, science fiction, and adventure. From Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who to Terry Brooks, she loves fictional worlds and the lore that inspired them. She has circumnavigated the globe, visited five continents in five years, and recently sailed aboard a tall ship in French Polynesia. She has a degree from Sweet Briar College in International Affairs, but her passion is writing, anything from sports articles to fan fiction to analyses of military theory. In her spare time she dreams of being one of Tolkien’s elves, practicing archery and wandering through forests wherever her travels take her.