Hobbiton Movie Set – Matamata, New Zealand
An early morning had us en route to Hobbiton! Our 9:30AM tour time, fifteen minute arrival beforehand to check in, and just over an hour drive into the countryside, we left shortly after 7:30AM. We have learned this far driving through New Zealand that while some drives can take less time, is it not uncommon to get stuck around tractors, buses, trucks, construction, and other delays increasing the travel time.
The drive out there was another intersting scenery change. Some parts it was complete farm land, then forest, and lastly rolling hills shaped just as depicted in the Shire.
We arrived to Hobbiton early, checked in and got our tickets, and sat in the cafe. There was nothing to see here and was clear we would be bused to the physical location. Since we had time, we got a bacon and egg quiche to share and Kevin ordered a cappuccino. Both were shockingly quite good. The quiche had this great combination of onions and tomato that brought depth to the flavors- we almost got a second one! This was a good addition to our morning oatmeal to get us through the two hour tour.
Tour time arriving, we got in our 9:30 departure line and shuffled onto a full bus with another (at least, if not more) thirty people. A short film played as we drove just under ten minutes to the drop off point. We learned that the original set for Lord of the Rings was taken down after filming but when the Hobbit was filmed ten years after, the Alexander Family Farm and Peter Jackson decided to build the set for sustained visitation after the filming was complete. Nothing has been changed since filming and everything is as it was since they day they left. Crew works hard to maintain the area in that state.
Our guide, Luke, escorted everyone from the bus, through the trees, and opened up the view we had all be waiting for.
It was definitely super cool. We are both big fans of the Lord of the Rings series and seeing this put instant smiles on our faces… even if we were in a large group of people shoving to get their photo. I wonder how much they charge for a private tour?
This venture is clearly making bank. At $84 a ticket and over 30 people capacity per tour and the tour leaves every ten to twenty minutes, crazy.
There are over 40 hobbit holes in this area and while I do not think we saw all of them, we did see quite a bit. Each hobbit hole has a different theme- what that hobbit was responsible for to contribute to the community. One took care of bread, the other cheese, another fish, one had paint brushes, and it goes on from there. It was fun to chose which hobbit hole we would want to live in- cheese for me please!
There is only one hobbit hole that opens and it is to demonstrate that none of the are built with interiors- it is all built for exterior display only. Everything in the ground is real such as the trees, flowers, and vegetables. Anything in or on a cart was not real. It was incredible how lush everything was in this area, as if they were filming this morning on set.
Of course, one of the highlights was seeing the iconic green hobbit hole of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Interestingly, the tree that sits above it if fake, reconstructed to match the original real tree that have been removed after the Lord of the Rings filming. The “no admittance” sign on the gate leading up to the slightly cracked open door. We learned here how they filmed the scenes twice in two different locations then overlapping the shoots to make Gandalf look big and Bilbo and Frodo look small. The magic of film making!
The Hobbiton portion ended at Samwise’s hobbit hole where the trilogy ends. Ironically filmed within the first two months of starting the entire Lord of the Rings filming, but aptly ending our tour through Hobbiton.
We were then lead to the Green Dragon, over the bridge that Gandalf enters in the Shire in the first film.
Each guest was given a drink (dark beer, ale, cider or non-alcoholic ginger ale) and they were actually quite good! We enjoyed the details inside the Green Dragon as well as the view of Hobbiton across the lake. With only ten minutes here, it was a marathon of seeing everything and drinking up quick.
The ten minutes were up and the group was ushered back onto the bus back to the car park. Another video played as we distanced ourselves from the transportive experience. We really enjoyed every minute of it and learning the stories behind these films.
I know my only complaint was the groups being too big and us needed to move too fast threw the area. There was a point in the tour were we fell to the back to get the photos we wanted but then missed out on the stories Luke was sharing with the group. Can’t have it both ways when the set up is like this so just something to keep in mind. It was such a privilege to be able to walk on this set.