FRIDAY, 23rd Sept.
Matamata is an hour from Hamilton by bus, so I left Hamilton after 10 a.m., because I’d booked a Hobbiton tour starting from Matamata iSite at noon. At the Visitors Centre, before I got my ticket, I had to sign a confidentiality contract. I could take pictures or even record everything, but I couldn’t show it to anyone, even friends or family, which is absurd. But I think their biggest concern was about publishing it on the Internet. So, sorry, guys, no photos from Hobbiton this time. The ladies at the iSite couldn’t tell when I’d be allowed to show them online, maybe after the release of the movies next year. So expect an update on it in December 2012, right after the premiere of “The Hobbit, part 1” and hopefully the Hollywood bullies won’t have any reasons to persecute me.
But I’m going to show you what bus took us to the farm where the movie set was about 20 min ride from Matamata.
On the way the bus driver talked about the town and people who were extras in The Lord of the Rings. Probably there are some involved in The Hobbit now, but of course she didn’t tell us anything about it. It’s a secret, which I don’t think is possible to be kept in such a small town like Matamata (population 7800 people, according to my guide book).
In my confidentiality contract, I signed that I must keep what I “see and hear strictly confidential.” So I think I can tell you what I didn’t see and hear. I didn’t see the inside of Bilbo and Frodo’s hole, Bag End and I hadn’t heard before purchasing the ticket that it’s closed for the visitors at the moment. I understand it’s being prepared for the filming, but at least they could have mention it on their website to avoid general disappointment, because I wasn’t the only one who said, ‘Oh, NO!’ when we heard that news. So my advise is that if you want to see the Hobbiton Movie Set, visit it when the filming is completely over, or even after the films’ release and you should be really satisfied with your tour there. I was in 50% happy to be there (at least they should have made the tickets cheaper, which now cost $66).
After the tour, we saw sheep shearing in a wool shed. It was just part of the attractions. I always feel sorry for sheep and after being disappointed with the tour, it didn’t make me feel better seeing poor scared sheep being sheared. Probably I’m talking silly, but that show made me feel like a stupid tourist and I don’t like that feeling. Another attraction was feeding lambs, so the farmer who’d just sheared sheep for us, brought two little lambs and bottles with milk and I fed one. The lamb meat doesn’t taste that good after that experience. If I worked on a farm I think I’d become vegetarian.
Some people stayed for lunch at Shire Rest, but I wanted to go back to Matamata and have my lunch in town. It was after 2 p.m. when I got off the bus, so still pretty early and I had to wait till 5 p.m. for my bus back to Hamilton. I should have booked an earlier bus, because apart from Hobbiton, there was nothing to see or do in the town, so I just wondered around the main street, had a pie, tried frozen L&P at McDonald’s (I prefer the classic drink) and chatted with a girl while waiting for the bus. She had a cute laugh and asked me if I tried ice cream from Challenge (she used to work there). I didn’t and it was too late to go and buy it, because my bus could have come any minute. Maybe next time, because I want to come back and have a better experience with Hobbiton and remember it in a better light.
[Edited on 25th Sept. 2012: see the suplement post Hobbiton]