| | | | | |

My family in Hobbiton.

New Zealand is around-the-globe-famous for its videographic role in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. The set for the Shire scenes are only a couple hours from Auckland. Skipping a trip there was something my parents felt like we’d regret.

The set for the movie was originally constructed in 1999, and then set up for tours in 2002, which still operate today. Once you get into the Shire set, there are no powerlines, no pavement, and nothing that would indicate that you’re in a realm other than Middle-Earth.

So it is that three hours from Auckland, you can enter into another world.

The roads to the set were a little bumpy, but I didn’t think they were entirely bad for Middle-Earth.

I’ve not seen The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit movies yet, but I’ve read the books (except the lore and The Children of Hurin). Across the entire set it was clear just how much effort the production team put in to make the movie as true to the books as possible.

Recognize this place from the movie?

Bag End, all the way at the top of the hill.

We fit!

The tour included a complete tour of a Hobbit Hole on Bagshot Row. At the Green Dragon Inn a cold drink waited for us, so we headed past the Old Mill, over the Water, and to the famous inn.

The Mill.

I’m not sure how it has happened, but in all five of my completed books, I have a chapter in which my characters saunter into an old-timey inn just like the Green Dragon. So much so, in fact, that my siblings started picking out characters from my books to pretend to be. “I’ll be Dren—you be Kal, and he can be Benja….”

My family-based fanbase never ceases to encourage me.

I was fascinated by the concept of a common thread in all of my major works, so I posted the excerpts on my blog. If you want to see how many grammatical errors 16-year-old me could fit into one paragraph… it’s there for you.

Sipping a cold ginger beer and sitting down to a crowded table, while the fire crackled and roared over our shoulders, I realized that, in this one spot in the world, fantasy became reality. At some point, fiction makes enough difference that it’s not fiction. Tolkien certainly managed that with his series and has made an impact on the world.

The sun was setting and our wonderful tour was over, so we bid our goodbye to Middle-Earth.

This trip was precious to me—probably my favorite thing that I’ve ever done abroad. It felt special deep down—and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to trace where those feelings come from.

I’ve tested a lot of words in search of a precise way of saying what the trip felt like inside of my heart. It had that feeling of something that’s so beautiful it hurts.

  1. It was like walking through a field of waist-high grass with a staff in hand in the cool breeze—sunset painting the western horizon.
  2. It was like reading an amazing fiction book and finishing it—it’s a glimpse of a world that is close but still wholly unattainable.

When you listen to a stirring song, go to a movie, watch a dancing creek, or watch a storm lay down sheets of rain—you’re left with this pent-up longing to be part of it, a longing to capture something that’s impossible to grasp.

My drawing of Bag End.

I took a lot of Hobbiton with me when I left. I smuggled it away inside my heart. I journeyed to another world and won’t forget it. It left me more convinced than ever that what I do and create can change the world.


Similar Posts