“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Having the opportunity to visit Hobbiton, New Zealand was like having the opportunity to step into another world. While every little detail was obviously human crafted and constructed, it didn’t feel that way. For the sake of sounding cliche, it actually felt magical.
There is a certain peace and serenity in the properties atmosphere. While you are aware that visiting Hobbiton is visiting a tourist hotspot, it did not feel that way. Each tour is guided, with limited capacity, so there isn’t an overwhelming crowd of visitors pulling from Hobbiton’s charm.
The Hobbiton Movie Set Background
During Your Two-Hour Tour:
- You will learn fun facts about the construction of Hobbiton
- Uncover some filming tricks and techniques
- Experience Hobbiton as a true Hobbit would with meals served by The Green Dragon Inn
Some of you may already know the story, if you are a fan of the Hobbit movies, but for those who don’t I will give you the quick rundown of how Hobbiton came to be. It began with a man, but not just any man, this man was Sir Peter Jackson. And Sir Peter Jackson had a vision, to which was very specific. So, he and a group of others began, much like Frodo himself, an adventure to find the perfect location to bring JRR Tolkien’s vision of the idyllic Shire to life. Eventually, they came across a 1,250-acre sheep farm in the rural town of Matamata. The vast rolling hills of green landscape were the perfect location for Middle Earth, and soon Hobbit holes were being built.
I will save you further detailing, as you must learn more from your own visit. However, I will say – there was plenty of trial and tribulation along the way, including unpredicted commotion from frogs tenants.
The Hobbiton Village Tour | Plan Your Visit
501 Buckland Road, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Hours of operation:
Monday – Sunday
Prices vary depending on which activities you would like to do.
2-hour movie set tour, which is what Greg and I did are $89 per adult
Find out more: https://www.hobbitontours.com/
The Experience Worth the Cost | Should You Visit Hobbiton?
“If ever you are passing my way. Don’t wait to knock! Tea is at four, but any of you are welcome at any time!”
If you haven’t gathered this already our Hobbiton experience was absolutely worth the cost. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s Greg’s opinion of the trip:
Have you ever watched a movie, read a book, or looked at a piece of artwork and wished that the location, so beautifully portrayed, was real? A real, tangible place that you could visit? I think it’s a feeling we can all share, and it was one that I strongly felt at 10 years old the first time I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring. I had read “The Hobbit” earlier, but it didn’t capture my imagination quite like the eloquent descriptions that Tolkien splayed out across the pages in the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Much to my delight, only a year later, the first Lord of the Rings movie came to the big screen and I got to see these magical places that only existed in the pages I had so hungrily devoured. Seeing across the trilogy Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen run through the fields of the Shire, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimly trek across the Eastemnet and through Fangorn Forest, and Gandalf ride up the streets of Minas Tirith was such a gratifying experience; the elements of my imagination come to life. These places were real, tangible, and (in my young pre-teen mind) visitable. I can remember getting the Special Edition box set of the trilogy for Christmas, spending an entire day watching the extended versions of all three films and then excitedly watching the “Bonus Features,” which included the “Making Of” clips. More confirmation that they were real, tangible, and visitable… Until the end, when they showed the “deconstruction” of the Shire. It was a not-so-subtle reminder that, in the land of Hollywood, these magical places were temporary…
All that was to say that, since a very young age, I had always yearned to visit the places of wonder that Tolkien had created and shared with the world. It was a childhood dream that never dissipated, that I had kept with me for a long time, knowing that, unfortunately, it would never come to fruition. Until… Peter Jackson was asked to make The Hobbit into a movie almost a decade later. As I did those years before, I anxiously waited for and watched with anticipation, the Hobbit trilogy as they came out. After the first one was released, I again looked into the production across the internet, if just to satiate my curiosity. And then I saw it… The Shire was real and still standing. It existed. It was tangible. And it was 7,500 miles away. Across an ocean. In a foreign country. But it was real.
To say I was excited, standing outside the Visitor’s Center in Matamata, New Zealand holding my ticket is an understatement. It was a trip 15 years in the making and I was almost bursting at the seams with anticipation. With my amazing partner at my side, we climbed onto the bus that would take us to The Shire, to Hobbiton. On the short (almost unnecessary) ride over, the guide manned the intercom system and entertained us with fun trivia, facts, and anecdotes about how Peter Jackson’s production studio found the location, convinced the land-owner to let them use his land, and built, dismantled, then later rebuilt Hobbiton. It was wonderful and an integral part of the experience. If you find yourself in my shoes, I encourage you to listen and enjoy this nice introduction to the rolling green hills.
As we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by another guide and a large “Welcome to Hobbiton” sign. Looking at that sign, and the lush landscape around us, was surreal. I was overcome with the warm feeling of a childhood dream realized. Quickly, and excitedly, we followed the guide and group through the copse of trees towards imagination-realized. I wasn’t expecting the detail of the Hobbit-Holes, the gardens, carts, stone walls, chairs, windows, doors, and paths that the production had put into the set (I say set because, as was told to us by the guides, the whole area was the actual set where they filmed the Hobbiton scenes).
It was absolutely incredible. While I won’t spoil some of the more interesting specifics of what we saw, I will say that no detail was too small to pass over. I will say, however, that there were many different sizes of Hobbit-Holes and iconic circular doors, ranging from about the size of a large dinner plate to ones that a normal-sized person could walk through/into (forced perspective was a handy practical technique used for filming). The only other shared experience I could relate to was the first time I walked through Disney World and was able to appreciate the love and care that true fans took into making a magical place for fans. The tour was a little over an hour long, filled with interesting trivia, humor, and plenty of time to stop and take pictures. It ended with a trip to the Green Dragon!, of which I took part in drinking my fancy ale by the flagon, feeling brave and true the whole time. Magical, wonderful, and absolutely exceeded all of my expectations. The 10-year-old kid in me was happy with his dream fulfilled.
Other Adventures in the Area
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Having the opportunity to see the glowworms was a highlight of our trip. The tour guide was fantastic, and we even had the chance to see one of the little worms making its web. My little buggy-nerd heart is fluttering with joy just thinking about it.
Fun Facts About Glowworms:
Glowworms are not worms at all, they are actually bioluminescent larvae of fungus gnats. The larvae produce a natural enzyme in their bodies which combined with other chemicals brewing around in there, which creates the blue glow we all love to see.
Glowworms are carnivores. They make silk threads from mucus to catch their tiny prey. This sounds really disgusting, but the threads actually look like tiny crystal strands. They are quite amazing. As I mentioned, we had the opportunity to witness a glowworm building one of these sticky strand webs during our tour. Their bioluminescence attracts their prey (mayflies, midges, moths and flies) and the web catches it.
It is very difficult to get photos in the glowworm cave, and our trip was preblog so I didn’t have the camera I do now. I borrowed some photos from @glowwormcaves instagram page to show you how cool the caves and luminescent lights of little larvae babes are. P.S. this is not a catfish, the caves are actually cooler in person.
Find out more – here
Where We Stayed
Huntington Stables Retreat
Wow, wow, wow.
I can not gush over these accommodations enough.
This is a slight humble brag (it’s humble if you say it’s humble right?) but, I have stayed in some pretty epic accommodations over the years, and Huntington Stables is in my top four favorites.
This was our special New Years treat. We stayed 3 nights in the “Luxury Lodge, South Stable” which was completely amazing. As the room details upon booking, this is a self-contained lodge. Equipped with full kitchen, living room, bed and bath.
The luxury is really in the detailing of this quant accommodations. Located in the remote countryside of Cambridge, New Zealand the views from your private patio (as pictured above are stunning). The hotel has lavender planted all around (which was an unexpected treat for me, as it is one of my favorite scents in the whole world) and our accommodations were equipped barn-style half-door, which opens to a lovely courtyard with pool and hot tub. The bathroom had a clawfoot tub with a complimentary bubble bath kits.
If we ever travel back to New Zealand (which we will) this is a revisit kinda place.
Book your stay – here