Visiting Hobbiton Movie Set is one of the biggest attractions in New Zealand. We highly recommend it even if you haven’t seen the movies or read the books. It was one of the most memorable and coolest things to see during our travels. You’ll be amazed by all of the details and effort put into the Shire such as the hobbit holes, local garden, and even the trees. Plus, you’re on the famous movie set where Elijah Wood and Sir Ian McKellan filmed which is already awesome in itself.
Prior to our trip, we rewatched the extended versions of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies to get us into the Hobbiton mode. Every time the Shire appeared on the screen, we squealed with excitement that we would get to see it in person. I even started re-reading the “The Lord of the Rings” book, but only completed 15% before the trip.
It was a gorgeous and sunny day on the morning of the tour. Rain was in the forecast during our week in New Zealand, but we lucked out.
Tour Basic Info
The Hobbiton Movie Set is 15 to 20 minutes drive from the city of Matamata. Tickets are $79 NZD ($58 USD) and can be purchased online, at the Matamata Information Visitor Center, or on-site (times subject to availability). It’s best to pre-purchase ahead of time to get your preferred time. We opted for the earliest time and the first tour of the day at 9am so we could have the Shire exclusively for ourselves for 10-20 minutes before the next tour group arrived. The guided tours are two hours long.
The drive itself to the movie set was peaceful due to the rolling green hills and there were plenty of signs guiding us to the movie set. Parking is free too. Don’t have a rental car? You can book a pick-up from the Matamata Information Center as a part of the movie set tour through the Hobbiton Movie Set website. Another option is using a tour agency to book a full day adventure of Hobbiton and the Waitomo glowworm caves and includes the round trip bus ride from Auckland or Rotorua.
On arrival, head to the ticket office, also known as Shire’s Rest, at least 15 minutes prior to your tour time. Wait in the bus waiting area a few minutes prior to the start of the tour, meet your bus driver and tour guide, show your ticket, and board the bus for a short ride to Hobbiton.
The whole experience at Hobbiton was so much fun. The two hours went by quickly and we would have loved to stay longer. There were plenty of opportunities to take photos and our tour guide was even the photographer at various stopping points. The hillside was beautiful, luscious green, and too perfect. Why would anyone want to leave this place?
Our tour guide was great and shared interesting facts about the movie set. First, Hobbiton was built for the Lord of the Rings filming and then destroyed. They rebuilt everything for the Hobbit films with permanent materials and worked with the Alexanders, owners of the land, to continue the Shire’s legacy. In addition, one of the largest trees is not real and made out of silk leaves that were shipped from Taiwan. Each of the leaves were wired onto the tree.
The colorful hobbit holes are scaled to different sizes – life size or half the size depending on the needs of the filming. Each of the hobbit holes are customized to the hobbit’s occupation, such as baker, gardener, cheese maker, or even the town’s drunk with empty bottles everywhere.
Our tour ended with a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. You get a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. We don’t drink alcohol so we opted for the non-alcoholic ginger beer. It was sweet and fizzy. The bees loved the drink and swarmed around our mugs when we were outside. Apparently the beer and the ginger beer is made only for Hobbiton Movie Set, and can be found only at the Hobbiton Movie Site or at the Matamata Information Center. Once we finished our drink, we headed back on the bus to the main entrance and explored the gift shop. What an awesome and memorable day!
Have you been to the Hobbiton Movie Set? What was your favorite part of the tour?