What is the cutest little spot in New Zealand? The answer is Hobbiton, the movie set for The Shire in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
What is Hobbiton?
Hobbiton was constructed in 1999 for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was used for just several weeks of filming and not intended to be a permanent structure. Upon the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie, residents who lived in the area of Hobbiton recognized the nearby mountain range. Once the location of Hobbiton was discovered and the Lord of the Rings movies grew in popularity, fans began requesting tours of the movie set.
Hobbiton was rebuilt as a permanent structure for the filming of the Hobbit trilogy of movies. Now the owners of the farm, the Alexanders, run tours to see the movie set.
The only way to see Hobbiton is with a tour. Tours run every half an hour starting at 9 am and go all day. On Wednesdays and Sundays there is a special twilight tour where the houses are illuminated and dinner is served in the Green Dragon alehouse. You can also schedule a private tour or book a tour in Chinese.
We took the 9:30 am tour, one of the most popular time slots as it is the best time for photos.
Taking a Tour through Hobbiton
While walking through Hobbiton with our tour group of approximately twenty five people, we wandered among the forty five Hobbit holes, learned interesting facts about the filming of the LoTR movies, and enjoyed the scenery. What a peaceful, bucolic setting. As we toured the property, we couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in one of these quaint, undersized, fairytale-like Hobbit houses.
Tyler and Kara, who were Hobbit sized when we visited New Zealand, loved these little houses. Tim, who is the size of Gandalf, would have a much harder time living here if that ever were an option.
Our tour concluded at the Green Dragon with a drink for everyone. Tyler and Kara had the non-alcoholic ginger beer while Tim and I drank amber ale (at 11 am). It’s twelve o’clock somewhere, right!
We loved this tour and it was fascinating to learn more about what goes into film production and set design. Plus, Tyler and Kara are still daydreaming about what it would be like to live in one of these Hobbit houses.
Hobbiton in Photos
About the Hobbiton Movie Set
Hobbiton is located just outside the town of Matamata, one hour from Rotorua (70 km) and two hours (160 km) from Auckland.
Tours can be booked with departures from The Shires Rest (the main ticketing center, located on the Hobbiton property), Matamata, or Rotorua. The tour of the property lasts approximately two hours, where you walk the 12 acres of property, learn the history behind Hobbiton, and end with a pint of ale at the Green Dragon.
For a schedule of tours and prices, look at the Hobbiton Movie Set website. We took the tour in 2015. Since our visit, more tours have been added to the daily schedule, including tours that are available in Chinese.
Order your tickets in advance. Tours can sell out, even if you are not visiting during high season.
Best time to take photos. The morning is the best time to take photos as the lighting is better. The afternoon hours are quieter with less visitors. On Wednesday and Sunday there is the option of touring at twilight, ending with dinner at the Green Dragon. This interested us but the hefty price tag was too much for our budget.
You are permitted to take as many photos and videos as you would like. Our guide told us that the current record for number of photographs taken stands at 3,400 during the two hour tour. Wow! In case you are wondering, I took a measly 158 pix.
More Information about New Zealand
OUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCES IN NEW ZEALAND: All four of us went bungy jumping in Queenstown which was a blast. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is our favorite hike in New Zealand, followed by Roy’s Peak Track and the Routeburn Track. We also love Waiheke Island (a great day trip from Auckland), Queenstown and visiting Franz Josef (Glacier Country).
NORTH ISLAND: Top experiences on the North Island include spending a day or two in Auckland, hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, visiting Cathedral Cove, cruising the Bay of Islands, and seeing glowworms and blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Caves. For the full list, read our article about the Best Things to Do on the North Island.
MILFORD SOUND: The Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand. Learn how to visit it, and hike to Key Summit, in our article How Day Trip from Te Anau to the Milford Sound.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
We have TONS more information about New Zealand in our New Zealand Travel Guide, including Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Franz Josef, Christchurch, Wellington, Taupō, and the Milford Sound.
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