As a huge fan of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings, and as someone who always wanted to live in a hole in the ground, it was only a matter of time until I travelled to the farthest corner of the globe to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand. The site is a tourist destination now, with several guided tours per day taking you through the Green Dragon Pub, the winding paths with the hobbit homes on the sides, and of course, Bag End, the hilltop home of Bilbo Baggins.
I’ll tell you how it went, but please don’t be too disappointed at some of the “movie magic” because Hobbiton doesn’t have fully built hobbit homes – they are pretty much simply built facades in the hillsides with no interiors or really small interiors that are just plywood closets, really. The movie filming inside Bilbo’s house was a temporary set shot in a studio in Wellington. So at Hobbiton, we stood in front of the houses to take pictures, but they really weren’t built to go inside of… The aesthetic of the hobbit homes was very quaint and pastoral – as they say in the book and film, “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
The Green Dragon was pretty amazing looking inside and out. It has a functioning kitchen, bar, and multiple seating areas. My family took the extended Hobbiton tour which includes a full breakfast served hobbit style. Homemade breads, muffins, scones, sautéed mushrooms, loaded tomatoes, thick cut bacon, jams & butter, eggs, country sausage, and nobody left that table hungry. The woodwork and design was amazing overall, although some construction shortcuts were taken on the joinery and some effects done with paint to make it a bit easier to build. That’s the curse of being a builder – you notice the little things… but I was a fully satisfied hobbit that morning and absolutely loved the Green Dragon.
My boys and I had read all of the Hobbit books together and they had a blast walking around the set in their elven cloaks. My wife (who does not drink) even begrudgingly posed as Rosie Cotton holding two mugs of beer behind the bar – That’s an obligatory picture if you ask me. How many times have I posed for photos I didn’t care to be in over all of these years? It’s fair.
The trip to Hobbiton was not so much to learn any technology about building hobbit homes underground. It was more a tribute to the inspiration, dream, and driving force behind why I started Hobbit Builders as a business. How many people out there have seen the movies or read the books and wished there was a way to really live in a hole in the ground? Of course, I mean “not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, full of worms and an oozy smell…” For most people, that wish stops right there and remains a passing thought. But for me and my clients at Hobbit Builders, we find ways to bring our wishes to life.
Dan is enthusiastic about building underground homes. Not only a huge fan of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien but a huge fan of quiet, secure, sustainable homesteads with some modern conveniences built-in. Given the uncertainties in the world from the instability of the financial system, threats of viruses, rising population, climate change, threats of terrorism and nuclear wars, having a safe house away from the cities, yet within an easy drive from the cities where we work makes a lot of sense. The people who prepare ahead of time will not live in fear. Grow a garden. Have goats on your roof. Lower home maintenance and energy costs. Own land with resources. Enjoy a pastoral retreat from the stress of modernity. Live the Hobbit Life!