Hamilton Gardens & the Good George Brewery Tour

Back in February on the 20th a friend and I did an awesome tour of Hobbiton and then we drove to Hamilton to check out what’s new in the Hamilton Gardens. They have created several fantasy gardens and they were amazing, loved them.

The rest of the gardens were beautiful and well worth checking out.

After the gardens, we drove across town to the Good George Brewery, where we made it just in time for a free tour. Good George is the brewery that provides the Green Dragon in Hobbiton its beer, so we had to check it out. This was quite possibly the best brewery tour EVER! Before the tour starts you are handed a glass of beer to taste what the beer you are about to learn about tastes like. Then near the end of the tour you get to sit down in the boardroom and sample as much cider as you like, while learning all about the history of the brewery and the many awesome things they do, like making free hand sanitiser for charity.

I think that was a cunning ploy to make you buy more beer on your way out. We stayed for a late lunch/early dinner in the bar and ended up buying glasses, beer and a whole lot of cider.

Our tour guide.

What a fantastic big day out.

Hobbiton

On the 20th of February I went with a friend to Hobbiton, it’s about a two hour drive from Auckland and somewhere I’ve always thought about going to, but it’s not cheap so the price has always put me off. However my friend read an article about Hobbiton and how they may have to close because the number of tourists is way down thanks to Covid and they might not be able to continue with the upkeep. So we decided to go just in case we never get the chance and that would be a real shame.
The tour bus was full, lucky we booked. The very brief bus ride is basically to get you across the road from the meeting point, shop and cafe and in to the farmland where the movie was made (it was filmed on privately owned land). The guided tour starts the minute the bus takes off – they play a DVD with music from the film and scenes from the movie to remind you of what areas we were driving past looked like in the movie. It set the scene and got us excited, it was strangely emotional. It also made me want to watch the first movie all over again, luckily there is a big gift shop and I could buy the DVD.

The bus ride ended at an instantly recognisable stone path where either Bilbo or Frodo met Gandalf and excitedly we set off.

It was exactly like in the movie – the details were amazing and I understood how the cost of maintaining the movie set justified the price of entry. It was well worth it and I’d happily go again.

Eventually we came to Bagend where Bilbo lived and I couldn’t actually believe I was seeing it for real.

The tree above Bilbo’s house is the famous tree that featured a lot in the movie – turns out it’s not real!

After that we headed to the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary beverage – the beer they were serving is brewed by the Good George brewery in Hamilton, you can also do a tour of their brewery.

After that the tour was over and we headed for the bus. On the way back we crossed paths with another tour party just setting out and it made me appreciate how lucky we were to be on the tour with reduced numbers. At times it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves and we could walk around at a very leisurely pace. But I imagine in the height of the tourist season the place would have been packed and the tours would leave every 10 minutes rather than every hour or so.

From there we set off for the Hamilton Gardens and a tour of the Good George brewery.