Hobbit Village, Newzealand
The Hobbiton Movie Set was a significant location used for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series. It is situated on a family run farm about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Hinuera and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) southwest of Matamata, in Waikato, New Zealand, and is now a Tolkien tourism destination, offering guided tours of the set.
Two hours south of Auckland lies the lush farmland of the Hamilton – Waikato region. Famous for dairying and fine thoroughbred horses, it’s easy to see why these green pastures and rolling hills were chosen to portray Hobbiton and The Shire.
Hobbit fans can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set on a guided tour; it has more than 44 unique hobbit holes, including Bag End (Bilbo’s house). As you wander through the heart of the Shire, you’ll get to hear the fascinating commentary about how it was all created.
Along your journey you’ll see the mill, the double arched bridge and the famous Party Tree before stopping for a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Evening tours are also available, and they include a feast fit for a hobbit!
A number of great farmstays are also on offer in Matamata. Just east of town you can discover the North Island’s highest waterfalls, Wairere Falls, which are a spectacular sight plunging 153m. The Wairere Falls walking track showcases a diverse range of natural scenery and from the lookout you can enjoy magnificent views over the valley and the Waikato Plains.
Matamata is situated 2 hours’ drive from Auckland, 45 minutes from Hamilton and 1 hour from Rotorua.
The underlying geology of the area is that of the Hinuera Formation, a group of alluvial silts, sands and gravels laid down in the last glacial period. Originally largely marshland, it was transformed in the 19th century by a large-scale drainage scheme and is now fertile agricultural land that is also a major racehorse breeding area.
The Alexander family moved to the 505-hectare (1,250-acre) property of rolling grassland where the set is located in 1978. Since then it has been a livestock ranch with 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle. The main sources of income from farming are mutton, wool and beef.
Although the set was not built to last, the hobbit hole facades having been constructed from untreated timber, ply and polystyrene, it was evident that the location was of interest to tourists. Guided tours of the 5.5 hectares (14 acres) movie set site commenced in 2002 and continue to be provided on a daily basis, the two hour excursion having to be booked in advance.
Highlights of the tour include Bagshot Row, the Party Tree, and Bilbo’s Bag End home. There are now 44 hobbit holes on view although it is not possible to enter any of them. (The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington).
Refreshments are available at “The Shires Rest Cafe” prior to or after tours. Breakfast and indeed “Second Breakfast” is served. In 2012 the “Green Dragon” inn (a replica of the Green Dragon. that featured in the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies) was opened on the set. There is now also a store selling merchandise and souvenirs adjacent to the cafe and evening events commenced in 2014. The tours have generally received good reviews (although not all are complimentary) and in 2013 the set welcomed its 500,000th guest.