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This was a wonderful tour. My family and I had high expectations of this tour as we are big fans of the movies. Whoever had the idea to preserve the movie set and sell tours here was a genius. The cost was well worth it.
The tour provider, Beach and Bush has excellent employees working for them. My first experience with one of their staff is a nice woman who I spoke with on the phone regarding the Auckland Central pick up location. The tour info on Viator did not indicate where the pick-up points are so I called and spoke with a nice woman who gave me the info. As they did not pick-up at the location where I was staying, the closest one was right across the street from our Airbnb. She also sent me a confirmation email with the info in it. They picked us up at the time indicated and took us to a location to transfer to another van that took us on the tour. There were a total of 8 people in our group. The gentleman who picked us up and our tour guide were both very pleasant and professional.
As we made our way toward Hobbiton, our tour guide was very engaging and interesting. He gave us interesting facts and history about different things in Auckland, the movies and New Zealand in general. As the drive was going to be more than an hour or so, after his narration, he let us know that he will stop chatting for a while so we could nap during the long drive if we chose to. We made a pit stop at a convenience store and restaurant to use the restroom and get something to eat. I forgot the name of the place, but the food was excellent. Mostly grab and go stuff.
The scenery and countryside were beautiful as we continued on toward Hobbiton. Our tour guide was handy with more facts about the farms, flora and fauna that we passed. It was a nice drive. We arrived at the Shires Rest where we were able to take a look at the gift shop and use the restroom before our guide to Hobbiton met us.
I cannot forget seeing the entrance to Hobbiton for the first time, the road with the two rock walls on each side in the scene where Gandalf is riding his cart into Hobbiton. It was amazing. It looked exactly like it did in the movie and that scene is the first thing that came to mind when I saw it. Our Hobbiton guide kept us moving at a good pace but not rushing us to move along, he was very patient with us when we lagged behind to get that picture perfect shot. I can imagine what he deals with on a day to day basis with us tourists. When we stopped at different points he would bring to our memory different scenes in both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies and show us the physical location of where it was filmed. He quizzed us to see if we knew what was spoken during a particular scene, gave us the behind the scenes story of the films, he was awesome.
Our Hobbiton guide then left us at the Green Dragon and our Tour Guide met us there. We got our pint of ale the tour guide got a non-alcoholic beverage and went to have lunch in a tent nearby. The buffet lunch was excellent and coincidentally we were the first group to sit down. The big bus tours came in about 20 minutes later, by then we already had gotten our food and sat down. I asked the tour guide if renting out the place was a possibility, he said absolutely. People have parties and weddings here all the time.
I think coming here during winter June was a good decision, because I think it wouldnt have been as enjoyable if it was very hot. It was cold but not unbearably so. I would recommend this tour because its a small group tour, also this particular one did not include the Waitomo Caves and did include lunch, which is what we were more interested in. We had time to purchase items from the gift shop and we headed back to Auckland. Our tour guide was nice enough to let us nap on the ride back and we got dropped off at the same place we were picked up from. A wonderful tour led by wonderful people.
I had the good fortune of booking this tour, which done through a great tour company called Bush and Beach. On the day I booked, I was the only person that had booked the tour, so I had a private driver to Hobbiton and back, as well as a private guide through the movie set. I was told the day before and after me, they had tour groups of 20 or so people, but I lucked out in being the only one booked on the day I went. Instead of asking me to switch to a different day as some tour companies have done in the past, this tour company wanted to accommodate my choice! It was a wonderful experience.
Hobbiton itself is very neat, beautifully maintained, and it was enjoyable to have a private tour guide throughout the set. The Green Dragon was a great way to end the tour of the set. Lunch is nothing spectacular, but it was good with plenty of options buffet style. I would definitely recommend this tour company to anyone.
Although it is advertised as a Small-Group Tour, this is only insofar as the transport there and back is concerned. At Hobbiton we basically still joined up with a bigger group for the tour so there wasn't a huge advantage to booking a small group tour. Hobbiton itself was absolutely gorgeous and we really enjoyed the experience. We really would have liked to have had a little bit more time to walk around by ourselves. The lunch which was included was really great but again it was a bit rushed.
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