If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies (and The Hobbit Trilogy) then you should already know that these movies were made in New Zealand. The most iconic set locations that can be visited, and that is still standing, is Hobbiton.
How the tours started
Once filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy had finished, the studio was going to remove all trace of Hobbiton from the farmer's land as agreed in the initial contract. However, at the final stages of the removal of the movie set, a large storm came that lasted a number of days and work could not continue. The owner of the land said that he didn't mind if the rest of the set remained (there were just the shells of the holes in the ground). The owner started doing private tours with friends and family, then word starting going around and he did more and more of them. Even though there really wasn't much to see, most of the props including the doors were no longer there, the tours became quite popular.
When the Hobbit trilogy was going to be made, the movie studio wanted to use the same place. The land owner agreed on the condition that they made the hobbit structures more permanent and that they were to leave them in place once filming had finished. The studio agreed... of course they get a percentage of all tours too so it was a win-win situation for all.
The Hobbiton Tour
The tour of the Hobbiton movie set lasts around two hours ... two hours that fly by! You start the tour at the Shire's Rest (see the photo above). Tours leave there every 15 minutes. While you wait you can check out the café and the souvenir shop with ALL types of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit memorabilia.
From the Shire's Rest you are taken by bus to the site of the movie set. On the 10-minute journey you are told a little about the history of how this place was chosen and the filming of both movies.
There are over 20 hobbit homes however you cannot go inside any of them. As a part of the tour there IS a hobbit hole where you can stand just inside the door of the home. There is nothing inside the "home" itself, just dirt walls, but from the outside it looks pretty cool! You are given lots of interesting tidbits and stories about production of both trilogies. But there is more than just hobbit holes; you have lots of miniature props and of course the area with the great tree where Bilbo Baggin's birthday party was held.
The main part of the tour ends at The Green Dragon Inn.
The Green Dragon Inn
When you arrive at the Green Dragon Inn, you are offered a complimentary beer (or non alcoholic drink) and given time to soak up the atmosphere of this traditional tavern. There are come armchairs placed before the open fires and also enough rustic tables and chairs for everyone, some in front of the rounded windows. You have about 10 minutes there before you are rounded up and head back to the tour bus.
Twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays) there is an evening banquet tour where a small handful of people can visit the movie set at dusk before heading to the Green Dragon Inn where they are offered Hobbit Southfarthing Ale and a banquet feast with traditional Hobbit fare (second helpings are more than welcome). Once the feast has finished, you are given a traditional hobbit lantern to guide you along the paths as waddle back to the tour bus. Numbers for the banquet are limited so bookings are essential.
Where is Hobbiton?
The Hobbiton site is in the countryside, away from public transport and off the main road. There are courtesy shuttles available from Matamata Information Centre (45 Broadway - Matamata).
Address: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata, New Zealand
Freephone: 0508 4 HOBBITON
Open: 9am - 5.45pm
You can book your time for the tour via the official website above. We didn't buy the tickets online, just turned up, so had to wait a couple of hours for our turn to take the tour.
We visited Hobbiton in January 2016.
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