“The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and there the king once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards and woods”
- J.R.R Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)
These were the words (among others) that Sir Peter Jackson, and his team, lived by when searching for the iconic hills and lush green lands of the Shire – home of the hobbits and where this epic tale began. An aerial sweep of New Zealand’s most green areas revealed a stunning 1,250-acre sheep’s farm located in the heart of Waikato. That’s when they realised, they had found the hobbit’s home.
If you’re an ardent fan of the books or the movies (or both), the Hobbiton Movie Set should be a priority when you visit New Zealand. This is one of the most visited sites in the country. You can stop by the Green Dragon Inn for ginger beer, apple cider or ale. You can discover hidden titbits about the making of the movies, via the guided tours. You can eat dinner like a hobbit and see the Shire by moonlight. Furthermore, every spot on this set is worthy of an Instagram picture or story. So, this year, why not travel to Middle Earth and visit one of literature and film’s most iconic locations?
Hobbiton took months to make, once the location was decided. At one end of the secluded farm, is a towering pine tree, spreading its branches over a lake, adjacent to a hill. Today, Bag End (home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins) is situated at the top of the hill. The surrounding areas were (and continue to be) green and lush. Like the land had stepped away from the 20th century, making it a perfect location for this fantasy movie trilogy. Starting March 1999, the crew of the movies embarked on a 9-month quest to bring Hobbiton to life. The New Zealand Army helped with construction, and very soon 39 temporary hobbit holes were built across the 12-acre plot used for the movie set. Filming started in December 1999 and was wrapped in 3 months. In 2009, Peter Jackson returned to film the Hobbit trilogy, and what was left behind is the gorgeous film set you see today. In 2012, the Green Dragon Inn was opened. That’s not all though. There’s a whole world of movie magic waiting for you at Hobbiton. So, let’s find out what you can do there.
What was once a movie set is now a thriving tourist attraction, with so much to do and see. You may feel a bit overwhelmed, so we’ve put together a quick guide to the Hobbiton attractions.
The Tours: The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: Step into a new world on this tour, as your guide escorts you around the movie set, pointing out the intricate work, the most famous locations and explaining how the movie was made. Make your way through the Hobbit holes, the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll receive a complimentary beverage to conclude your adventure.
|Timings||Tours depart daily from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM|
|Durations||2.5 for the tour and meal combo|
|Price||$84 (adults), $42 (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free|
|Price Post Feb 2020||89 (adults), $44, (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free|
The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour + Meal: Sample the Shire’s finest cooking at the delicious lunch buffet served at the Party Marquee. The garden and bar seating overlooks the movie set, giving you great view during your meal. The rest of the tour, will be with your guide, exploring the best of the movie set.
|Timings||Tours depart daily from 10:05 AM with lunch served at 11:35 AM. 12:05 departure with lunch at 1:35 PM and 1:25 departure with lunch at 2:25 PM.|
|Durations||2.5-3 hours approximately|
|Price||$120 (adults), $78 (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are frees are free|
|Price Post Feb 2020||$125 (adults), $80, (9-16 years) and for children under the age 8 the tickets are free|
The Evening Banquet Tour: The shire glows at dusk, making this the perfect time to experience this fantasy-based land. Your guide will lead you through this enchanting 12-acre plot, describing little anecdotes and sharing stories about the trilogies. The tour ends at The Green Dragon Inn, with a complimentary beverage, before guests are moved to the dining room for a bountiful banquet. Post-dinner, guests will join their guide for a walk through the wandering lanes of the Shire. Handheld lanterns will be provided to guests and the paths are lit, making the shire glow and gleam at night.
|Timings||Check with the official website for availability|
|Duration||4 hours approximately|
|Price||$195 (adults), $152 (9-16 years), $104 (5-8 years) and for children under the age 4 the tickets are free.|
|Price Post Feb 2020||$199 (adults), $162, (9-16 years), $104 (5-8 years) and for children under the age 4 the tickets are free|
Private Tours: The Hobbiton Set also offers exclusive tours for groups or individuals. The tour starts with a drive through the set and the personal guide will escort you across the site, recounting incredible details of how the set was created. Visitors can also opt for a Festive Feast Lunch at the Party Marquee (catering must be booked in advance and additional costs may apply).
|Timings||Check with the official website for availability|
|Duration||2 hours approximately|
|Price||$750 for 4 guests, $84 for any additional adult (17+), $42 for additional guest (9-16 years), $0 for additional guest (child must be accompanied by adult)|
All rates are in NZD and bookings for the tour must be done in advance.
Apart from the tours, Hobbiton offers unique experiences, like:
Events: Schedule a function, a corporate event, a birthday or even a wedding at the movie set!
The Inn: A meeting place for all the residents of Hobbiton, you can now enjoy traditional ales, a lovely apple cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer. Enjoy an incredible meal, while you sink into an armchair by the fire or in the Beer Garden overlooking the village.
The Shire’s Rest Cafe: Located in the heart of the Waikato countryside, this converted woolshed offers delicious home cooked food, ranging from snacks, meals, craft beers and drinks in lush surroundings.
The Shire Store: The Shire Store is where you can shop for souvenirs to remind you of this magical experience. Books, collectibles, exclusive branded clothing and more are yours for the purchasing.
Hobbiton is located in Matamata – two hours from Auckland and an hour from Rotorua. You can choose to drive down on your own or opt for a guided tour shuttle. You also have the option of catching a bus from Auckland for NZ$ 50-60, however, bear in mind that the trip will take approximately three and a half hours.
Now that you know the magic that awaits you at the Hobbiton Movie Set, how quickly will you book your tour or your trip to New Zealand. At Thomas Cook, we’re experts at getting you where you want to be. Our New Zealand Holiday Packages are crafted to include the best of this incredible country, including a visit to Hobbiton. Visit our website, and kickstart your quest today!