There And Back Again: Hobbiton Tour, New Zealand

I haven’t updated the blog in over a week, but I promise I have a good reason for it! I spent the last week in New Zealand visiting friends and family.

While I was there, I finally got to visit the Hobbiton set in Matamata. My partner and I are huge fans of the Lord of the Rings movie (we have rewatched the trilogy every year since we started dating), so it was a delight to visit The Shire. Our tour guide told us that March is one of the best time to visit – as the various flowers and foliage are in still vibrant, yet you miss the summer holiday crowd.

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We booked our tour the day before via the official website. The cost of these tours are $79NZD per adult (as of March 2016). As far as we could tell, the only way to gain access to the site is via these official tours, as you cannot drive directly there.

We chose to drive into Matamata (around 2.5 hours from Auckland) and were collected by bus from the Matamata iSite (tourist information centre). The building itself was modeled to resemble The Green Dragon Inn in Hobbiton!

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The iSite contained a section for LOTR/The Hobbit merchandise such as tshirts, magnets and cups. There was also a realistic statue of Gollum in one corner! For those who are less LOTR inclined, there’s also an array of brochures on walks and attraction around the Waikato region. However, Matamata itself does not have much to offer aside from Hobbiton.

We picked up our ticket, which came along with a lovely map of Hobbiton featured above. Then it’s off on the green bus towards the attraction itself. Our driver told us about how the Alexander Farm was spotted during an aerial location scout in the late 1990s, and its transformation from sheep farm into Hobbiton for the LOTR and The Hobbit movies.

The bus did a brief stop by The Shires Rest cafe – another pick up spot within Matamata. In hindsight, I would have picked this location to be collected from – as it offers a scenic view of the rolling farm hills, and had a very well stocked merchandise section. It was also a lot more busy than the iSite.

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Then we were finally there! I was so excited, you guys! The sky was blue, there was fresh scent of grass and flowers in the air, even the constant swooping bees could not dampen my spirits.

I usually dislike tour groups because I like to go at my own pace – and take photos at my leisure. However, I felt groups were necessary here to give everyone a fair chance at enjoying the space – there were a lot of people, despite it being off-peak season. Our own tour group held around 35 people.

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This is the view from the entrance of Hobbiton, also part of the view that you see in The Hobbit when Gandalf enters The Shire. Despite the crowd, I was still in awe with the beauty of nature – and how seamlessly the Hobbit dwellings blended into the greenery.

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The details in the individual hobbit holes were unbelievable. This particular one above is by the entrance and remains one of my favourite, with its sunny yellow door providing great contrast to the garden surrounding it. They were constructed to last over the next 50 years, and actually meet council building regulations! I am fairly petite and hobbit-sized myself, so I was tempted hideout and live here.

I was the only person on the farm wearing a full length dress – but I couldn’t resist trying to look my best 😄 The walk was also very easy – I had no issues in my outfit whatsoever – but many people opted to wear shorts and runners.

The site is maintained by gardeners all year around, so the hobbit holes are all in excellent condition. Below, you can see the main vegetable patch which is positively teeming with life.

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Walking around, I could really feel the love and care that went into making this film site – and I marvelled at the level of details. There were many ‘themed’ hobbit holes, indicating at the occupation of that particular hobbit e.g. the red door house above is home to a beekeeping hobbit!

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The hobbit hole themselves all have various sizes, ranging from 60% to 100% scale – to aid with filming proportions correctly. I am standing in one of the large hobbit holes in the picture above.

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Aside from the hobbit holes themselves, there were also heaps of cute details throughout the set – such as the tiny hobbit sized clothing hanging about. Or smoke streaming steadily from chimneys. Or scarecrows dotted across The Shire, watching over vegetable patches.

The crowning jewel of The Shire is obviously Bag End – home of Bilbo Baggins. It’s a stunning, full sized hobbit hole – with the iconic green front door and the infamous sign stating ‘No Admittance – Except on Party Business’.

Not pictured is the oak tree on top of Bag End – a monstrous artificial prop that looked so real – I didn’t realise it was fake until the tour guide pointed it out to me. There’s two reasons why they used an fake tree i) the one from the original LOTR was dismantled long ago when filming completed and ii) they needed the oak tree to look 60 years younger for The Hobbit movies! The tree took over 10 months to construct and appeared in the movie for 10 seconds!

Winding down to the end of the tour, we got a glimpse of The Party Field and The Party Tree, where Bilbo held his 111th birthday party. In the first picture, the tree centre top is actually the oak tree of Bag End I was talking about!

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The Party Field overlooks the lake and The Green Dragon Inn, one of our last stops before home time.Hobbiton-The-Water.png

We also got to see Samwise’s house. He is pretty much my favourite character in the trilogy, so it was so special to get to see his home – where the last shot of the movie took place. Fun fact: the little girl that played Sam’s daughter is Sean Astin’s real daughter 😀

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As we wandered towards the inn, we got to glimpse at a realistic ale barrel and a gorgeous watermill.

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We then crossed the lake and headed for The Green Dragon Inn – which is a fully operational pub offering their own brews. As part of the tour, we got a complimentary drink and could pick between 2 types of ale, apple cider or gingerbeer. I wasn’t too fond of the apple cider, but thought the ale was delightfully refreshing. I also heard from friends that the gingerbeer here is excellent stuff.

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Finally, it was time to say goodbye – here’s one last look at Hobbiton, with Bag End and the majestic oak tree in the background.


 

I thought the tour was fantastic and would not hesitate to recommend it to all LOTR and Hobbit fans! Even those unfamiliar with the books and movies might enjoy it, just on how lovely the sights are alone. If you ever find yourself in New Zealand, put this on your to-do list.

36 thoughts on “There And Back Again: Hobbiton Tour, New Zealand

  1. This just filled my heart with pure joy! I almost feel like you just took me on the tour with you. Going on this tour is one of my heavily important things to do in life, as a Lord of the Rings lover! The please looks absolutely stunning, and green and full of life, I’m so happy to see how well preserved it is, oh my!
    Thank you so much for sharing, Aentee!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMGGGGG! This is so so so pretty! I’m a huge fan of the LotR trilogy too and this is at the top of my travel bucket list. Looking at these photos, I kinda want to just live there. Everything looks so beautiful with all that grass! And ha! That’s funny you were the only one with a dress, but you totally blend in and match with the surrounding! I’m so glad you had such a great time! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing with us, so we can live vicariously through you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, this looks perfect! I have NZ on my bucket list of travel destinations (it’s FAR from Europe, that’s all I’m saying) and I will definitely go visit Hobbiton when I eventually get there.
    I love Sam’s house – and I didn’t know his daughter played the kid in the movie, that’s so sweet! 🙂 I like that they left the village as it is and that it’s being cared for by gardeners and all. Such a good tourist move!
    Thanks for sharing these!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eeep, this brings back fond memories. My tour guide was REALLY cool and told us really neat trivia about LOTR and the cast. I think I went last February, and that summer was super hot. Hobbiton itself was beautiful and green, but if you looked out into the distance the farmland was brown. 😄

    Your photos are so on point though. 👌 So glad you enjoyed it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This place looks so beautiful! Thank you for the detailed post, it feels like I’m joining you in the tour 😀 I really want to re-watch the movie again! This one is definitely going to be in my bucket list!<3

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So amazing! Thank you for sharing all these gorgeous pictures. It’s my dream to go to NZ one day and visit all the LOTR tourist sites, but of course The Shire is at the top of my list. (I’m actually not sure how much else is left at this point…) It looks like you really lucked out on the weather, and you even managed to get photos without tourists in them! \o/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This has made me want to dig out my box-set of both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and have one huge Middle-Earth-athon. 😛 This is 100% my all time favourite franchise and visiting the set is on my bucket list of places I simply HAVE TO visit.
    The locations is absolutely stunning and I loved that they still maintain the sight. I sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful time and I absolutely love the dress.
    Basically take me to Hobbiton and let me live in my hobbit hole with my books haha. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh man I am so envious! New Zealand is a beautiful country. I was there years ago with a school group on a cultural trip, and we got to stay with the Maori on a marae. This was before the movies though, so no Hobbiton visit for us! Gah, it’s like straight out of Middle Earth of the films!

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  9. I’m so jealous! I went to NZ a few years ago but unfortunately didn’t have the time to visit Hobbiton… still, NZ is an amazing country even and I had a fantastic time. Even if you’re not a LOTR fan I think everyone needs to go to NZ! 😛

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  10. You’re so lucky girl! Seeing all the Shire has to offer must have really been such a wonderful experience and just must have made the movies come to life. All of the greenery and such just looks so gorgeous in the photos <33 It makes the hobbit holes just pop even more. I just love all of the bright and vibrant colors too. And you already know this but it's so relevant that I shall say it again: your dress is incredible. Haha, it's super pretty and I most definitely want it for myself.

    Amazing post girl! I hope to see more travel posts from you, this one was so well done. With your photos and explanations about everything it felt as if I was there with you(:

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  11. You’re so lucky girl! Seeing all the Shire has to offer must have really been such a wonderful experience and just must have made the movies come to life. All of the greenery and such just looks so gorgeous in the photos <33 It makes the hobbit holes just pop even more. I just love all of the bright and vibrant colors too. And you already know this but it's so relevant that I shall say it again: your dress is incredible. Haha, it's super pretty and I most definitely want it for myself.

    Amazing post girl! I hope to see more travel posts from you, this one was so well done. With your photos and explanations about everything it felt as if I was there with you(: I definitely want to go on this tour myself if I'm ever lucky enough to find myself in New Zealand!!

    Like

  12. This must have been such a fun day. I’m jealous! I hadn’t appreciated before quite how beautiful the place is. Thanks for the great post.

    Your dress is beautiful, btw. Waaay better than shorts and runners 🙂

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  13. Oh my gosh, this is so gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing all of these beautiful pics! Hobbiton is at the top of my bucket list, I hope I get to go there soon! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time, your dress is gorgeous! 😀 <

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  14. OMGGG SO BEAUTIFUL!! I seriously would love to go to Hobbiton someday.😍 And live there, probably. Because omg the Hobbit life would be the life for me, honestly now. Food and books and comfortableness. hehe. I’m just WOWED at that tree though. Seriously?!? 10 months to construct a tree that was used for 10 seconds filming?! I don’t even REMEMBER the tree in the movies. That’s serious dedication and attention to detail. 😄

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  15. Good call on the dress Aentee, you look beautiful in the photos! What a picturesque place to be, and it’s even more exciting if you and the bf are big fans of the movie. I actually have only seen one LOTR movie and it put me to sleep (I know, terrible). But I did drive past the Hobbiton sign when I was in NZ 12 years ago! Sounds like you had a blast! ❤

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  16. So I haven’t watched or read LOTR… whoops. Haha I spent this whole post just nodding and pretending that I understood. One day I will watch the movies and I will understand your excitement 😀 And then I will visit Hobbiton and love it as well! The scenery is so beautiful and so picture-perfect! Also, your dress is amazing! It was the perfect dress to go with the perfect scenery!

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  17. Holy bookgods I want to go so badly! I showed this post to the gent and he was like: YES! ONE DAY! 🙂 You look so fab darling. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  18. Ah all of this looks so freaking beautiful and magical! I’m 4’10” so this would probably feel like home to me! Girl, you rocked that dress, who cares if you were the only one wearing a dress 🙂
    Hope you had a great rest of your vacation.

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