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There and back again

After a short bus ride (one does not simply walk into Hobbiton), your tour guide mentions a few rules. Basically, don't wander off, as the fence is electric.

Seriously.

Check out A Photo Tour of Hobbiton for the full story.

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Hobbiton!

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit...

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Where do you want to go?

There's lots to see (and I saw a lot). It's actually quite big, for a film set.

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Paths and tourists

It's quite the destination, with a few thousand people visiting per day during peak season.

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Detail

I wasn't sure what to expect with this tour, but I was pleasantly surprised how much detail there was. They really went all out. It didn't feel at all like the remnants of a film set; more like an active film set or a real place.

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Holes by the dozens

I didn't take pictures of them all, but there are a lot of hobbit holes here.

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Someone home?

They did a great job making many of the holes seemed lived in (including smoke curling from a few chimneys).

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Holes for different hobbits

They made them different sizes, so they could use them for different types of shots and different characters.

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Hungry?

Hobbits love their food, though probably not this exact "food."

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Well-tended gardens

Everything is beautifully maintained.

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Hobbit bees

So realistic, the flowers have bees! Man, Peter Jackson thought of everything.

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Bag End and the tree

The lovely Bag End, and the tree as seen in "The Hobbit."

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Real wood!

Doesn't seem like enough wood for a whole town. Do hobbits have smaller fires?

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Extras

They built these spare hobbit holes over the hill from Hobbiton, just in case they needed them. They didn't.

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Scenic

It helps that the surrounding area, beyond the confines of Hobbiton, is beautiful, too.

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Aren't you...

Turns out, I'm a bit large to be a hobbit.

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Mmmm...

Warm bread, just sitting out.

Granted, it's warm plastic bread...

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Not a tree

In order to make a tree look 60 years younger than the one in the first movie, this one was built. Apparently after they finished attaching all the leaves, they had to take a break from filming. When they came back, the leaves had faded. So they painted each leaf. Thousands and thousands of them.

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View from the hill

Headed up the hill towards Bag End.

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Tree and Green

The party tree on the left (more on this later), and the Green Dragon Inn in the distance (ditto).

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Up the hill

The approach to the most famous hobbit hole of them all.

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Bag End

The legendary Bag End.

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No admittance!

You can get that sign as a poster. Had I thought it would have survived my trip, I totally would have bought one. Guess I'll need to order it when I get home.

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An open door

Sadly, the inside of Bag End was a set. Just a bit of space inside here so actors can walk in and out.

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Quite a view

Bag End has quite a view. Definitely the best-situated hobbit hole.

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The view 2

From Bag End toward the Green Dragon. I could live here.

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The back of Bag End

As you continue over the slope, turns out Bilbo has a close neighbor. The Gaffer?

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Path signs

There are a bunch of these all over, which is a great way to find your way around. They help add to the overall feeling that it's all a real place.

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Hobbity...

Check out all the little details.

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The party field and tree

The field where they had Bilbo's party at the beginning of "The Lord of the Rings."

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The party field

It was much smaller than I expected. Though I guess Hobbits are rather small...

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Party tree

The tree where Bilbo gives his speech.

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From the party field

The view from the party field, out across the lake towards the Green Dragon Inn.
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Down the path

The party field is to the left in the photo, and the hobbit hole with the yellow door is to the right of the camera. Bag End is directly behind.

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Yellow door

Another recognizable hobbit hole. Sam's, I believe?

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Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

On to the Green Dragon.

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One last look

So long, Bag End.

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Traditional

Ah, an old fashioned, original, security camera.

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A cask of?

Hobbits do love their ale.

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Over the bridge

The Green Dragon Inn is a short walk from Bag End (another bonus for living there).

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Not functional

As gorgeous and "lifelike" as it looks, the mill doesn't actually work.

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The Green Dragon Inn

It's an actual pub -- you can get food and everything. Here's an article about the special beers you can get. One beer is included in the price of admission.

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Order up?

The beer I chose, a stout, was quite good, actually.

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Real fire

Despite being quite warm outside under some brutal summer sun, a real fire was going in the hearth.

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Dining

I didn't have a chance to try the food, but it looked good.

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Festive

It's the little touches, I thought, that make the whole thing special, like the decorations here.

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Lovely lake

It's all as lovely as it looks in the movies, which is impressive since in real life most movie sets definitely do not.

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One more...

One last hobbit hole. They put them everywhere.

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Matamata

The nearby town of Matamata loves the tourism, and like all of New Zealand, has totally gotten into the LotR/Hobbit spirit.

Check out the full story, A photo tour of Hobbiton.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
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