For someone who did not grow up in New Zealand, I along with the rest of the world have probably heard the occasional mention of how scenic this country is, but really, it was the filming of the Lord of The Rings that propelled many of us to bookmark this place as a must-travel destination.
The Hobbiton Movie Set in North Island is one of the most iconic landmarks for the filming of the famous trilogy, and as an avid fan myself, I absolutely had a ball of a time visiting this place!
I get a lot of questions from people overseas about the movie set when they intend to travel within New Zealand so hopefully, this post would be a good insight; not a full spoiler, but just enough justification for you to put it into your bucket list whilst traveling in the country.
Hobbiton is located near a town called Matamata in the North Island. Getting there is quite easy if you’re travelling with a car as it is less than a 2 hours away from major destinations like Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo.
To fully experience this place, there is an entrance fee with only fully guided tours available – I’m sure everything will be prepared for you if you join a group tour, but if you’re making your own arrangements, you have the option of buying tickets online or rocking up at the Matamata i-site/Shire’s Rest to see if there’s any tours available that day.
If you ask me, I would recommend taking the bus tour from the Matamata i-Site. For one, the bus driver gives stellar commentaries about the movie set and also, if you look at the picture below, the i-Site itself is designed to make you feel as though you’re walking on the grounds of the Shire!
From the moment you arrive, I can tell you that it is quite a sight to behold. Everything is so picturesque and everywhere you turn, it brings back memories of the opening scenes of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins beginning their adventures at the Shire.
I really like the overall structure of the tour; the guide gives you a great explanation of the development of the set over the years and also enough time to fully appreciate the layout as you walk along. Each Hobbit Hole is designed differently from the other and I was quite impressed at the efforts taken and the littlest details to make it look so realistic, as though someone was really living in them!
The tour ends with you receiving a complimentary drink from The Green Dragon Inn and just before you leave, the tour bus brings you to the Shire’s Rest which has a pretty neat souvenir shop if you would like to take home a token to remember your good experience at Hobbiton.
So, there you have it. If you’re a fan of the Lord of The Rings, the pictures speak for themselves; this place is a must when you come to New Zealand. If you aren’t, well, it might just be the reason to get you started on reading the first book or watching the films.
More details can be found here at their official website.
Have a great time, and don’t forget your hats and a bottle of sunscreen!