A few nights ago, I was watching the first Lord of the Rings film for the millionth time and I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I watched the Fellowship journey from the Shire to the mountains to the woods and through the plains. It felt like home.
For much of my middle school years, I was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings films, watching the films (extended edition only) regularly on my portable DVD player. I would watch my favorite parts over and over again, entranced by the journey. After watching the behind the scenes features that came with the DVDs, I fell in love with New Zealand. To see such a magical place in person seemed like a dream.
When I studied in Australia for a semester, my parents very kindly took me to New Zealand for a few days, fulfilling a decade-long dream of mine. Because of time constraints, we only stayed on the North Island, seeing Rotorua and Auckland, but it was still magical.
Though we were only there for a short time, my mother ensured that I experience some of the Lord of the Rings in person. So, we visited Hobbiton.
A reconstructed set with Hobbit holes scattered about on a hill made the films come alive. To walk amongst a little town designed to look as though you just missed the baker or the weaver brought me so much joy.
Hobbiton is relatively popular with Lord of the Rings fans, just as Dubrovnik and Iceland are popular with fans of the Game of Thrones series. There is a certain wonder about exploring the same places that your favorite characters inhabited on screen.
No matter how many times I watch Lord of the Rings, I can’t help but want to return, to see more of Middle Earth than Hobbiton, to see more than the northern part of the North Island. That’s the problem with crossing places off your bucket list, you find yourself adding another place or two to your list, while wanting to spend the rest of your life delving into the same places you’ve already been.