“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
If there ever was an enchanting village that is worth discovering, it is most certainly the magical land of Hobbiton. Although it is not a real, lived in village, it is an actual movie set of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. Located in the heart of New Zealand, you can explore the lush nature and scenery of the Shire. This place makes you feel like you have arrived into a completely new and exciting world of a village for hobbits. If you are planning travels to New Zealand, definitely put this at the top of your list and discover Hobbiton.
The story of Hobbiton
Once a working sheep and beef farm in the countryside of Matamata, this place has now become one of the most magical attractions in New Zealand. This gem was once a family owned farm found in 1998 by the film makers in their search for a filming location. Since then, the vision blossomed into creating an exciting and dreamy world. It has taken a lot of additional work to create the fictional Hobbiton we see today. However, it was originally the rolling hills, the lake and green pastures which attracted the film makers to this particular place. Today, we are extremely fortunate to explore and discover Hobbiton.
When you arrive in Hobbiton, you will get blown away by the stunning little hobbit homes. You will also be surprised with the amount of details and care that has been put into this village. The overwhelming attention to detail all comes together to create a true feeling of a life in the Hobbit world. There is so much to explore here. From the pathways around the hobbit homes, gardens, rolling hills, lake and bridge to the Dragons Inn. Hobbiton really does make you feel like you have just arrived at the heart of Middle Earth.
To discover Hobbiton, you will have to pay for a tour. You can only visit Hobbiton with a group guide. It is important that you stay with your group the whole time and not wonder off. It is best to plan ahead and purchase your tickets online as these tours do sell out quick. There is a tour bus which takes you to the Hobbition location from the ticket center. Be ready for a quick bus ride through beautiful farm landscapes. You can check out their website here to see the tour options that are offered. There is also helpful information on how to get there as well. Hobbiton also offers events, function and places to stay.
What to expect
Upon arriving at Hobbiton, you will be delighted to explore the 12 acre movie set where you can walk in the footsteps of hobbits. You are taken among the rolling hills, grassy meadows, picturesque gardens, a mill and the double arch bridge. For those who love taking photos (like me 😊) the guide will give you plenty of time for amazing photo opportunities. Some may even volunteer to take photos of you, so there is no need to worry. Asides from the amazing photos, be sure to take in all of scenery, the gardens in particular are amazing. As you walk up the hill to Bilbo Baggins house you will also see some amazing landscapes. This includes the surrounding farm life and overview of the lake, the party tree and the Dragons Inn.
During our time here, we had an amazing tour guide who pointed out everything from famous scenes in the movies to the illusions and hard work it took to create this amazing world on screen. During the tour you will discover that this village is real in terms of having real gardens, a lake, plants and trees. However, there is one exception, that being a fake tree, located above Bilbo Baggins house. You will not notice this to be a fake tree unless the tour guide tells you.
We were also lucky enough to walk inside one of the hobbit homes. At this spot we were able to take some very unique shots. This is not a properly set up home. Instead it is just an empty space you can walk into and take in the special view. The set in general is very detailed and the hobbit holes have been made to look like they have been lived in.
End of the journey
The guided tour will eventually lead you downhill, past the lake and over the stone bridge. You will pass a water mill and onwards to the Dragons Inn. This is where you can sit down and enjoy the beers like a true Hobbit. You will be able to sample beer, ale and ginger beer which is brewed in Hamilton. There is also tea, coffee and snacks which you can enjoy both inside and outside of this functioning bar. This will be the very end of the tour. The tour guide will lead you back through the gardens and out of this beautiful world.
Things to know before you visit
WHERE IS HOBBITON LOCATED
Hobbiton is located on a farm in Matamata. This is a 2 hour drive from Auckland, a 45 min drive from Hamilton and 1 hour drive from the city of Rotorua. The easiest way to get here is by car. You can use google maps to guide you. Alternatively you can book tours from Auckland or Rotorua which can take you there.
BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE
Hobbiton is one of the busiest tourist attractions in New Zealand. This should be more than enough reason for anyone to go and discover Hobbiton. Do not just expect to show up and purchase tickets, it is likely they have already sold out. Take it from our experience, we once went because we were near by and it was all sold out. Plan ahead, and book your tickets online.
YOU CAN ONLY VISIT WITH A TOUR GUIDE
The only way to see Hobbiton is with a tour bus and a tour guide. The tour bus takes you to the location of Hobbiton.
WHERE TO EAT
You will have the opportunity to eat at the Dragons Inn or at the Shire’s Rest. There is also an evening banquet tour where you can enjoy a feast and a Hobbit fare. This is something you will have to book in advance.
It is easy to see why this breathtaking location was chosen as the set for these world famous movies. The farm is in the middle of a countryside but hidden from the modern world. I hope that now you feel inspired to pack your bags and discover Hobbiton. This is where you can experience a magical journey. You can check out some more pictures of our visit to Hobbiton over on Instagram.