I recently had the pleasure of visiting Hobbiton, the scene of the movie set for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. It is based about 2.5 hours south of Auckland, just out of Matamata. I went with my brother and nephews (and a friend) for Thomas’ birthday treat – he and his friend Rico are mad keen on anything Hobbit-related.
I didn’t know quite what to expect as I don’t particularly like crowds and touristy things but was very pleasantly surprised (it does pay to get there as early as possible to beat the crowds). The site itself is about half a square kilometre in size but you meet first at an information centre with café and gift shop, and are taken to the site by buses that leave every 15 minutes with up to 40 people and a guide.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and told us all sorts of stories about the site and filming the movie. Apparently when the Lord of the Rings series was filmed, Peter Jackson scouted out the countryside and decided that this valley fitted the description from the books perfectly. The contract with the farmer stipulated that at the end everything had to be removed and the land returned to its original condition. He had been a bit surprised at how many people were interested in seeing where the films were set even when there wasn’t that much left to see. Very fortunately for him, he got that rare second chance when the Hobbit series required the same set; this time he stipulated that the set must be made of permanent materials and left intact at the end.
Each home is decorated differently with beautiful little cottage gardens surrounding them.
There are also vegetable gardens and orchards.
The occupation of each of the hobbits is obvious: some are fishermen, some woodcutters, some beekeepers, some cheese makers …
Each window has a different window treatment and ornaments on the windowsill. Chimneys give the impression of the size of the home. There are letter boxes and clothes on the clotheslines.
Just wonderful! I could have spent a lot more time than was available to look at all the detail.
Peter Jackson is also apparently a stickler for detail. For the big oak tree on the top of the hill above Bag End, the original one was a real tree cut into slices and reassembled on metal spikes; but for the Hobbit series it was 60 years earlier and the tree needed to be smaller. An artificial tree was used. On the day before filming PJ decided that the leaves were the wrong colour green so they had to be repainted – all 200,000 of them!
As well as the hobbit holes, there is the Party Field and the Party Tree and a merry meander takes you round The Water past the watermill to The Green Dragon Inn where you are treated to your choice of cider, ale or ginger beer. The Green Dragon is beautifully decorated and you do get to go inside here – giving a feeling of what it would be like inside the hobbit holes.
It is a fairly expensive outing (although for children under 10 it is only $10) but definitely worth a visit.
And to complete the offering, a trip to Middle Earth Airport (aka Wellington) a week later:
For tours in New Zealand see:
Adventure Tours Australia (yes they have NZ tours too).
Intrepid Travel (a range of different travel styles – see my post on travel styles)
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.