Let’s get into it – The Evening Banquet Tour includes a tour of Hobbiton Movie Set and costs $190 for an adult. Our tour started at 4.30pm from Shires Rest Cafe where we boarded a bus to Hobbiton. Our guide Belinda then took us on a guided tour through the magical Shire.
We arrived at The Green Dragon Inn around 6pm, chose our complimentary beverage, then waited for the big feast reveal at 6.30pm.
The curtains were parted to show a table laden with food – beef and ale stew with dumplings, salmon, duck, a whole chicken, a pan of sausages, mushrooms, broccoli, roast vegetables, salads and rolls. The food was good and there was plenty enough for a first and second dinner for those so inclined.
The table settings looked as good as the food, each wooden table was set with pottery plates, tumblers and serving dishes. Each table also had a centre piece of candles, flowers, small wooden barrels, and on our table, a book about fly fishing.
There is time to walk around The Green Dragon before dinner, but between dinner and dessert while everyone is chatting around the banquet tables is a quiet time to walk around and get a good look. It’s such a welcoming building full of natural colour tones, and there are two blazing fires to sit around, it would be a cozy local.
There is a lot of attention to detail at The Green Dragon and the decor carries through to the toilets …..
If there was anything slightly disappointing about the evening banquet it was dessert. After the feast set in front of us for dinner, our expectations were high, but the dessert board lacked colour and didn’t seem enough of a selection for the number of people sharing it. Still, we didn’t go home hungry.
The dessert board included trifle, baked apples, fruit tarts, pannacotta, ice cream and what I think was chocolate and liquorice in filo pastry. (You can help yourself to tea and coffee, there are flagons of water on the tables, your first beer, cider or ginger beer is complimentary, after that it’s around $7 a drink).
After dinner it was time to pick up a lantern and walk to the Party Field via some lakeside hobbit houses. (I point and click with a camera, a tripod and knowledge will get you better shots in the dark).
Down on the field our excellent hosts and guides Belinda and Sonny got us dancing to end the evening, shortly after it was time to say goodbye to Hobbiton. The last words go to a woman I overheard as we left The Shire, she said .. … ‘it’s the best $190 I’ve spent in New Zealand’. (See tips below)
We recommend The Evening Banquet Tour for diehard fans of the movies because your experience lasts four – five hours, you need to book well in advance though. (Cost – adults 17+ $190, 9-16 years $150, 5-8 years $100, up to 4 years free with a paying adult).
Take a tripod for night photography (tours depart at different times in winter and summer, we did the tour in April so it was dark when we left The Green Dragon, if you do a tour in summer it will probably still be light).
Dress warmly if you do a tour in the winter months, umbrellas are provided if it rains. Wear flat, comfortable shoes, the tracks may be muddy after heavy rain.
Bring cash if you want more than one drink at The Green Dragon Inn.
If you want to visit the gift shop you need to go before your tour departs as the gift shop is open 8.30am – 5.30pm (hours are extended during summer).
You can get your photo taken in the doorway of a hobbit house (guides double as willing photographers), so dress up if you’d like to, everyone will love it if you do.