Hello from Te Awamutu, home of Crowded House. Who’s that you ask? Some 80s band, but it excited J.
Te Awamutu is not on the trail, but we’ve had the good fortune of connecting with a stateside friend’s cousin’s husband’s father. Got the connection? So they were awesome enough to be used as a mail drop and host us overnight (and cook us breakfast, lunch, dinner, let us do laundry, shower, use their Internet …). Still can’t get over their incredible hospitality, especially during the holidays and family time. And still can’t get over that we had a double trail angel week!
Our trail angels (Mike, Olivia, Jan & Pearson)!
We haven’t traveled far since we left Hamilton and this is not really a trail update. We actually went on a non-hiking excursion!
Our gracious Hamilton hosts (remember the family with Paula, Michael and Nathan from the last post?) drove us to Matamata where you can tour the set of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” It is fondly called Hobbiton. It was fantastic!! Here are some fun facts, pictures and even a video.
*In 1998, location scouts chose the 1250-acre Alexander family sheep farm just outside of Matamata for “The Shire,” home of the Hobbits
*They built 39 hobbit holes with untreated materials and promised the Alexander family they would dismantle it when filming finished the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy.” However, bad weather delayed everything and the farmers started thinking they could make a little money letting people tour the set
*The first tours had 5-6 people. Now they get up to 3,000 people a day!
*They did rebuild the set with sustainable materials for “The Hobbit” and have kept it for the tours
*To keep things authentic to hobbit life, the producers did things like brought in fake trees, painted fake moss on the fences, blew a horn every morning to scare away the loud birds (like the native NZ bird tui that sounds like R2D2) and removed all the frogs from the ponds
*None of the sheep from the Alexander family farm were in the movies because they didn’t look authentic enough. They were removed temporarily and replaced by other sheep
*You could be a hobbit if your height is 5’3″, (mom). There were about 7 locals from Matamata that got a role. Plenty of other locals got jobs building the sets, etc.
*For the party scenes, they brewed a special 1% percent so that the actors wouldn’t get too drunk
And here are some pix from our off-trail adventure!
Bilbo Baggins house
The Green Dragon Pub, which was featured burning in “The Hobbit”
Stay tuned, we have some more non-hiking adventures coming!