From BBC Travel: Wellington for Hobbits

Lord of the Ring fans unite! Travel to the idyllic setting of Tolkien’s mystical Middle Earth, immersing yourself in New Zealand culture and living it up Halfling style with the BBC’s Suemedha Sood’s Travelwise: Wellington for Hobbits

Adding to the excitement surrounding the much anticipated film based on JRR Tolkien’s inaugural fantasy novel, director Sir Peter Jackson released a video diary last month that takes fans behind the scenes of his movie set in Wellington, New Zealand.

Phil Cook
The Hop Garden, in Wellington, has a great selection of New Zealand microbrews to intice any hobbit. (Phil Cook)

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His glimpse into the making of The Hobbit movie, scheduled for release next year, has undoubtedly whetted the palates of fantasy geeks around the world. So we’ve put together a tour of Wellington that should all but satisfy their hunger for all things Lord of the Rings – in other words, an itinerary fit for a hobbit.

1) Get yourself a hobbit name

Use “The Hobbit Name Generator” to discoveryour secret hobbit name. (“Bilbo Baggins” returns the name Bilbo Baggins, so it’s legit.)

2) Find a dwelling in Middle-earth

Booklovers Bed and Breakfast in downtown Wellington is a dream for, well, book lovers. Converted from a historic home, Booklovers was opened in 1999 by author Jane Tolerton who has stocked the inn with books over the years. The coolest thing about this B&B is that guests can choose from the literary collection and take books with them.

3) Devour breakfast… and then second breakfast

Freshly cooked breakfast is included in your stay at Booklovers, which offers eggs, bacon, fresh fruits, homemade granola, local juice, fair-trade local coffee and more. Since hobbits are known to enjoy “second breakfast”, we recommend Vista Café, just north of Booklovers, which serves breakfast until 4 pm. In addition to brunch staples like eggs benedict and pancakes, Vista serves corn and herb fritters with a tomato-onion salsa, banana-coconut bread and homemade ciabatta bread.

4) Follow the trails of Frodo and Gandalf

Follow in the footsteps of actors Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellen by choosing from the movie tours offered by Wellington Rover Tours. Depending on which trip you select, you could recreate up to 25 scenes from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. Possible locations include “outer shire”, outside of Downtown; suburbsto the south of Downtown where LOTR actors have lived; the WETA Cave, a pop culture museum co-founded by Jackson; Stone Street Studio, where The Hobbit is currently in production; and Hutt Valley and Kaitoke Regional Park, home to gardens, rivers and elfish trees featured in the movies. Wellington Rover Tours says its proudest feature is its knowledgeable guides, who have numerous anecdotes and secrets about the LOTR movies.

Serious fanatics may want to head out of town for a weekend to take the Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour in Matamata – about six hours north of Wellington. Peter Jackson used Hobbiton’s private farmland – the Alexander family farm – as The Shire in his films.

5) Have a spot of afternoon tea

It’s no surprise that hobbits take afternoon tea, since their creator was an Englishman. Hippopotamus Restaurant serves high tea with multiple menus from which to choose. Tea varieties range from Mediterranean mandarin to natural rosehip and hibiscus to traditional Ceylon. Hobbit wannabes looking for an afternoon tipple will be pleased by Hippopotamus’s selection of high tea cocktails. The Skye Bridge cocktail is made with 10-year-old scotch and Manuka honey.

6) Crash the set of The Hobbit

A tweet from Sir Ian McKellen leads us to believe that he and his cast-mates are currently shooting scenes at Stone Street Studios in the Miramar area of Wellington. The company does not offer public tours, but if you hang out outside for long enough, you’re likely to spot members of The Hobbit’s star-studded cast.

Continue reading about Hobbit-like pastimes in Travelwise: Wellington for Hobbits

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