The magical world of Hobbiton at Matamata is about 2.5 hours away from Auckland. It is a must visit destination even if you have not watched ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie or read the book as the entire setting and the drive is stunningly beautiful and the entire experience is outstanding. You can see large grasslands and farms with cattle grazing on these. The only way to see the Hobbiton is to take the guided tour of the set on the farm ($79 per person).
Once you enter Matamata, the road signs will direct you towards the Hobbiton movie set. You can collect your passes at the Shire’s Rest which also has a nice cafe serving quite a few eating options. The Shire’s Rest also sells authentic Hobbiton souvenirs, a must have for hobbit/ Lord of the Rings lovers.
We went in off-peak season so we were slightly lucky to get the last 2 seats on the spot for the 11 AM guided tour. I highly recommend to book these online ($79 per person) at this site. If you are worried about your travel time to Matamata, keep some buffer and book the tickets. Without pre-booking, if the slots are unavailable on the spot, you might be turned away, not something you look forward to during your vacation.
The guided tour is for 2 hours and it takes you through the Shire, hobbit holes, gardens, green dragon and the mill which have been adorned intricately. You will hear fascinating stories about how the movie scenes were shot. The intricate details that were planned to prepare the site, are absolutely inspiring and will leave you dumb struck! Be ready to answer some of the questions from the movie or the book! It is absolutely entertaining. I recommend the early morning tours to beat the crowd.
Some Facts About Hobbiton Farm
The Hobbiton farm is owned by Russell Alexander. It is spread over an area of 1250 acres and sees presence of over 13,500 sheep and 600 beef cattle. The film set area is about 12 acres and houses 44 hobbit holes.
Russell Alexander’s fortune changed completely when Peter Jackson, the Director of Lord of the Rings knocked at his door to paint a part of his farm as Hobbiton. In 1999, during LOTR trilogy, 39 hobbit holes where made of temporary materials such as untreated timber, ply and polysterene. When the movie ended, the sets were being dismantled as a part of the contract. Due to harsh weather conditions, the dismantling activities were postponed for the remaining 10+ hobbit holes. Soon, Alexander started having countrymen knocking at his doors to look at the remaining hobbit holes and within no time it became an attraction amongst locals.
Alexander reached out to Peter Jackson to explore the possibility of collaboration by retaining the remaining set. Peter grabbed this opportunity to shoot ‘The Hobbiton Trilogy’ in 2009 in the same location and rebuilt 44 Hobbit holes with permanent and more durable home furnishing materials expecting to last for over 100+ years. Peter and Alexander now run the Hobbiton Tours in partnership to keep this magical experience of The Shire ALIVE.
The Guided Tour
The magical experience begins right from the time when you board the coach (at the Shire’s Rest) that takes you to the Hobbiton Farm. This is a 15 minute ride through the farmlands. The memories of the movie come to life when you see those movie clippings screened in the coach. After a short ride, we enter into the neatly manicured meadows opening into the Shire.
The guide does a great job in helping us spot the exact locations of movie scenes. For example: the location where Gandalf first enters into the shire or when Bilbo Baggins runs down his hobbit Hole and exclaims “I am going on an adventure.” The guide also shared behind the scenes stories of how some of the acts where shot. Being a LOTR trilogy fan, this was an absolute dream come true moment for me!
Do you remember Green Dragon where Frodo and his gang enjoy their jar of beer? You can enjoy yours too at ‘Green Dragon’ in the farm. You will get a complimentary apple cider and ginger beer here.
It was a perfect day trip. My husband is not an LOTR fan, even then he enjoyed every bit of the tour. It is a scintillating experience and I can’t wait to revisit the trilogy and exclaim “I WAS HERE!“
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