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When Peter Jackson was preparing to film the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he sent out scouts to find the ideal rural area in which to set The Shire. He came across the Alexander farm, that had the perfect rolling hills and luscious green grass that we all now know to be Hobbiton. After completing the filming for the trilogy, it was mostly demolished. But luckily they came back to rebuild and film for The Hobbit, which is when they created the Hobbiton we can see today. An unbelievable 650,000 people per year visit from all over the world, even people that have never read the books or seen the films! It became one of the high points of our trip to New Zealand, so here I have put together all of the things you need to know before visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Hobbiton Movie Set is based among vast farmland just 16km away from the nearest town of Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand. This is a small town, but it has all the amenities you will need if you are looking to stay a night near Hobbiton. If you have a car and are able to drive, you can start the tour from The Shire’s Rest. There is plenty of parking here, so no need to worry about being able to find a space! This is where the gift shop and cafe are based, and from here you get on a short 10 minute bus ride to the start of Hobbiton, which is included in the tour!
Otherwise, you can book tours that take you to and from either the I-Site in Matamata or Rotorua, which is the nearest city. From these places a bus will pick you up and then drop you off, but will of course cost extra!
WHERE TO STAY NEARBY
FOR SELF-CONTAINED VEHICLES
For those of you with self-contained vehicles there is a pretty good selection of free campsites nearby! There aren’t any in the town of Matamata itself, but if you drive just 20 minutes from Hobbiton there are around 4 in a small area. We stayed in two campsites over 3 nights, and I would highly recommend both. Both Horahora Domain and Moana Roa Recreational Reserve are situated right on the rivers edge, with flushing toilets and plenty of space to park.
If you have time in the area, make sure to also visit Wairere Falls! There is a 45 minute uphill walk to reach the viewpoint, and you can even carry on right to the top of the waterfall if you are feeling it. But if you are on a time limit you could probably drive to Hobbiton, spend 2 hours there and then head off to your next destination.
Whilst we stayed in our van in a campsite near Matamata, there are some great hostels and hotels in the town too. Matamata Backpackers is a really great budget backpacker option, at only £15 for a bed in a 4-Bed dormitory! If you have more of a budget and are looking for something a little more luxurious, then have a look at Villa Walton Bed & Breakfast. The styling looks incredible, I am sure any stay there would be more than comfortable!
Even though there are so many tours leaving The Shire’s Rest in one day, I would really recommend that you book ahead of time. You may find if you leave it too late that there aren’t any spaces left in the time that you are visiting the area. We luckily managed to grab a couple of spaces in the last tour of the day on Christmas Eve, otherwise we would have had to wait another whole week! It really would have missed up our trip!
Unless you book onto a private tour, the group sizes tend to be around 30 people. This can seem quite a lot at the beginning, but we decided to hang around at the back so we could get photos once everyone else had moved onto the next Hobbit Hole. I have included below all the prices and tour times for each of the tour options on the Hobbiton website. For more information, take a look at their website here!
FROM THE SHIRE’S REST
ADULT PRICE – $84 (NZD)
TOURS DEPART THE SHIRE’S REST FROM 9AM UNTIL 3.30PM
TOUR DURATION – 2 HOURS
FROM MATAMATA I-SITE
ADULT PRICE – $84 (NZD)
TOURS DEPART FROM THE I-SITE AT 9.30AM, 11AM, 12.30PM, 2PM AND 3.30PM
TOUR DURATION – 3 HOURS
ADULT PRICE – $119 (NZD)
TOURS DEPART AT 8AM AND 1.20PM
TOUR DURATION – 4.5 HOURS
THE HOBBITON MOVIE SET TOUR
Make sure to arrive at The Shire’s Rest about 30 minutes before your tour time. You will need to pick up your tickets from the ticketing centre at least 15 minutes before your tour departure. And also make sure to take a look around the gift shop, there are so many Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit related items that something is bound to take your fancy! Once you have circled the gift shop a few times, make sure to queue up to start the tour just 5 minutes beforehand.
After your tickets have been checked, you and your tour group will get on the bus that takes you to the Shire! It only takes 10 minutes, but to make the most of that time, a video is played which gives you a little history of the farm, and there are also inside snippets of information about the making of the films!
And you have arrived at The Shire! For the next 2 hours you will truly feel like you have transported into Middle Earth and are living the life of a Hobbit. Except that you will be much taller than all of the Hobbit Holes! To guide you through The Shire, each tour has a tour guide, who whilst taking you through the village, also reels off an arsenal of interesting facts. It is incredible how much work was put into making all of the tiny details in The Shire. I won’t divulge any of those facts now, as I wouldn’t want to ruin that moment when your jaw drops because you are so amazed at what you are hearing.
All of the Hobbit Holes are actually of varying sizes! This was done to be able to make different characters look bigger or smaller depending on if they were Hobbits or larger, like Gandalf or Dwarves. None of the Hobbit Holes that you see actually have a complete interior, they are mostly just shells to film outside scenes. However there is one about half way through your tour where you can stand in the doorway and get a photo! You also get to see the most famous Hobbit Hole of them all, the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! You can tell which one it is by the iconic “No admittance except on party business” sign on the garden gate.
THE GREEN DRAGON INN
After coming to the end of the Hobbit Holes, you are taken through the area where Bilbo hosted his Birthday party from the first film. And then you walk over the bridge, past the mill and to the famous Green Dragon Inn! Here you have 20 minutes to walk around and enjoy one complimentary drink each. The drinks to chose from are actually a selection of Hobbiton’s own Hobbit Southfarthing Range! You can choose from a few ales, a cider or a ginger beer, all served in authentic pottery mugs.
The interior of the Green Dragon didn’t disappoint either! So much detail had gone into making sure that it has the feel of The Shire. I could really imagine the Hobbits gathering together in the evening for some ale! After your 20 minutes you then walk back to the entrance to end your tour. The bus will take you back to The Shire’s Rest, whilst playing another behind the scenes video.
Our tour around Hobbiton was no doubt one of our highlights of our trip to New Zealand. We were already massive fans of Lord of The Rings, and often find ourselves singing The Shire theme tune. But after learning so many behind the scenes facts and actually being in Hobbiton, our love for it has grown even more. We were in awe at the amount of detail that was not only put into the exterior of each Hobbit Hole, but to every aspect of The Shire. Everywhere you looked there were noticeboards with “Missing Hammer” or “Wheelbarrow For Sale” signs, and clothing lines adorned with small shirts and trousers. I can’t praise the tour enough, it was undoubtedly worth the money!
If you have already been to Hobbiton let me know what your favourite part was! I have also recently posted a New Zealand 3 Week Travel Budget post, which includes our trip to Hobbiton. Make sure to give that a read here!
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