Once you are in the North Island of New Zealand, you must seize the opportunity to go on a journey to the Hobbiton Movie Set. It is an experience like none other and for any Lord of the Ring fan, one that can’t be missed.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
One of my all-time favorite travel movie is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. These movies spoke to my wandering soul long before I even knew I was a traveler. However, y’all can shame on me for not reading the books. I haven’t read the books, but I will someday. It’s the movies that got me all fascinated.
New Zealand’s rugged scenery was the location for most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit films, but it was a 1,250 acre working sheep farm on North Island that became Hobbiton, the home of the hobbits in JRR Tolkien’s fantasy land, Middle-earth.
Hobbiton. Yes, it actually exists, and yes, you can visit there. Nonetheless, it is the only remaining full movie set location from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
Actually, initial movie contracts stated that after a set has been used, it had to be torn down to bring New Zealand back to it’s natural, beautiful habitat.
Believe it or not, Hobbiton was almost all but destroyed. Because of bad weather, the few remaining hobbit holes could not be torn down until the area dried up for heavy machinery to get back into the sheep field.
While the family that owned the farm was waiting, they had curious neighbors and friends drop in to view what remained of the Shire. Word spread like wildfire, and before you could blink an eye, contract revisions were made and Hobbiton was restored to be a permanent tour location for those who wished to come visit the Shire.
Ryan and I couldn’t have been any more thankful for the complimentary tour offered by Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and the Hobbiton Movie Set. My dream to visit this magnificent place was made possible by them.
“I’m going on an adventure!”
Everybody knows that famous scene when Bilbo Baggins shouted out that line to a farmer who inquires about his haste as he runs through Hobbiton after deciding to join Gandalf and a group of dwarves on their quest to reclaim Erabor from Smaug. It felt like that to me when I was coming.
Hobbiton is tucked in between Taupo, Rotorua, and Auckland, Hobbiton nowadays is found in a little place called Matamata. You can’t miss it since it’s right off Buckland Road. Therefore, be sure to stop by Hobbiton before heading to Rotorua if you’re leaving from Auckland.
On that road, you will find the Shire’s Rest cafe and that would be where you will meet before hopping on their bus to the movie set. You cannot just waltz in to Hobbiton on your own; you have to book a tour and follow a Hobbiton guide through the set.
Five tours depart daily from:
The Shire’s Rest, 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata. For more details or to book click here.
Matamata i-SITE, 45 Broadway, Matamata. For more details or to book click here.
Prices would range from $75-$195 NZD (~$48-125 US Dollars) depending on which tour you book with and when you book it (low or high season). The ticket fee includes the bus trip, entrance into Hobbiton, a two hour guided tour through the shire, and a free pint at the Green Dragon.
Throughout the tour, you’ll have to stay with the group. It should take around 45 minutes, then you can wander around on your own after your pint of beer at Green Dragon.
The Hobbit Holes
Before getting on the bus, Ryan and I asked for a transcript of the guide. They were glad to give one to each of us and we read the guide on the way.
I have to admit that it really saved me a lot of time as I could read all the facts that the tour guide would point out, like like the large oak tree with artificial leaves above Bilbo’s house. The tree was cut down and transported to Hobbiton.
The branches were bolted back on and thousands of artificial leaves were wired in place, the tree was on film for seconds only. Now, they have five full time gardeners keep The Shire’s real gardens blooming. I wonder if they keep it to nonmodern, lord of the rings gardening tools or they actually use modern equipment such as these?
Once we arrived at the Hobbiton set, everybody on the bus, including Ryan and myself, went up to the “Welcome to Hobbiton” sign and snapped photos like paparazzi.
Keep in mind that Hobbiton is the only full movie set left in-tact in New Zealand, and it draws all sorts of people — even people who aren’t fans of the films. So, don’t expect that it’ll be easy to capture photos without any people in them, especially during high season when it gets really crowed.
Along the emerald fields and rolling hills of Hobbit shire, there were so many Hobbit holes in different sizes. Some big, some small. This may be the only place that makes me grateful that I’m short! Only because I still have to bend down to enter the holes. I cannot imagine being 6’0″ while inside the holes.
The hobbit holes here are just facades with less than 4 feet of standing room in the interior. You’d be blown away with their incredible details. Laundry lines with washing hung out to dry. A picnic set up on the dock. Moss and lichen growing on the fences. Brooms and gardening tools near hobbit doors.
FACT: Some of them are identical but sized differently, so they can film and correct the size of house according to the heights of the actors when editing the film.
Once you walk through that stone pathway you realize how magical it is to be there walking.
“Fordo’s hole!!!” I jumped in excitement when I drew close to the set. It was beautiful and surreal to see it with my own eyes.
Overall, the stroll through the set was peaceful and serene and you get the feeling that if the hobbits actually lived here. One of the perks of being Deaf here is that we get to gape over the details without listening to the guide because we already read the transcript. It was an awesome tour.
Besides, there are plenty more secrets to be revealed along the way. Come and find out!
The Green Dragon Inn
One of my favorite parts of Hobbiton was the pub, Green Dragon, where Bilbo Baggins meets Thorin Oakenshield before they set off on their adventure to reclaim the ring.
Yes, you can actually go inside and have a pint at the hobbits’ favorite pub at the end of your tour. Yes, alcoholic beverages! There are four specially-brewed beers here (and a non-alcoholic ginger beer). The four Green Dragon beverages are brewed by Good George Brewing.
Unlike the hobbit houses you see on the Movie Set Tour, the Green Dragon Inn has been faithfully reproduced both inside and out. In real life it’s one of the best looking pubs I’ve had the pleasure to drink in. Ryan can affirm it for me.
The wood, stone and earth-like colors used in its construction and design make it feel warm and inviting. Bright colors hang in the bar in the form of steins and jugs, and carved grape vines curl around some of the wood work. It’s tempting to settle in the leather arm chair and read a book by the fire.
Ryan and I could stay and drink at the bar all night, but such a bummer that they had 20 minutes limit because of the volume of people coming in throughout the day. Pretty much, there was no way the Inn could hold all those who would like to stay for another pint or two.
The pints Ryan and I had were so good! Tasty! Ryan and I enjoyed every sip as we chatted and finished the drink.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
We honestly feel as if we have been transported to Middle-earth for two magical hours. As Gandalf says: ‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you.’
In my opinion, like the Glow Worm caves, Hobbiton is one of must-see attractions in New Zealand.
Hobbiton Movie Set
- Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.hobbitontours.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hobbitontours/
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism
- Address: Airport Rd, RD2, Hamilton, 3282, New Zealand
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: http://www.hamiltonwaikato.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HamiltonWaikato/