Visiting Hobbiton (Yes, This Place is REAL)

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In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Comfort. Good food. A laid-back lifestyle. The option to not wear footwear (ever). Who wouldn't want to be a hobbit?

Red hobbit hole in Hobbiton

Ever since I became a Tolkien fan more than a decade ago, I found myself identifying with the “little folk” the most. The ones with chubby cheeks and broad smiles who would rather tell jokes and smoke pipe weed than worry about world politics or corporate jobs.

I could totally picture myself living happily ever after in a place like Hobbiton. IF a place like Hobbiton could ever exist.

Well guess what? It DOES exist — at least, the movie set does in New Zealand.

Bag End at Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

The Story of Hobbiton

In the tiny farming community of Matamata, a booming tourism business has sprung up around what was (and still is) a large sheep farm stretching across rolling green hills in New Zealand's Waikato district.

Years ago, a “Lord of the Rings” location scout flew over the Alexander family farm in search of a large tree beside a lake. What he found was the ideal location for filming the whole of the Shire.

The Party Tree in Hobbiton

The story goes that the scout landed his helicopter and went up to the farm house in order to inquire about possibly using the land in a movie. Mr. Alexander informed the scout that the rugby was on, and asked him to come back later.

Luckily, he did.

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

Hobbiton in New Zealand

When the set was built for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, it was mostly made of polystyrene and other non-permanent materials — meaning, once filming was done, the set was (for the most part) completely torn down.

But the tourists still trickled in, eager to set eyes upon Hobbiton even if there was nothing left.

So, when Peter Jackson decided to use the Alexander farm again for the “Hobbit” trilogy, the family agreed on one condition — that they build the set out of permanent materials this time so that the tourists could REALLY come to visit Hobbiton after filming was over.

Long story short: everyone agreed that it would be an awesome idea. Which is why today you can really visit Hobbiton.

Hobbiton

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

Hobbiton in New Zealand

The site has become a must-do for many travelers to New Zealand, so here are a few tips for your visit to Hobbiton.

Tips for visiting Hobbiton

1. Prepare for any kind of weather

The Alexander farm almost has its own micro-climate. Weather can blow in and out faster than you ever thought possible — what looks like a calm, sunny day at first can quickly turn into a gale with sideways rain.

When I arrived at Hobbiton this time around, the sun was shining. As soon as we got onto the set, however, it started pouring. But by the time we made it up to Bag End, the sun was out and the sky was blue again.

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

My tip? Wear layers, and grab an umbrella at the start of the tour if there's ANY chance of rain at all!

2. Expect it to be crowded

Hobbiton is the only full movie set left in-tact in New Zealand, and it draws all sorts of people — even people who aren't fans of the films. You cannot roam around Hobbiton on your own; you have to book a tour and follow a Hobbiton guide through the set.

During high season, it CAN get crowded, so don't automatically assume that it will be easy to snap photos without any people in them!

Bag End in Hobbiton

They do limit how many people can go on each tour (so it IS important to book ahead!), but they can accommodate a lot of people in each tour group.

But being in Hobbiton was so magical that I was able to overlook all the other tourists!

3. Keep an eye out for all the little details

Even though the hobbit holes here are just facades (the interior sets were all shot on a sound stage in Wellington), the details here are INCREDIBLE. Laundry lines with washing hung out to dry. A picnic set up on the dock. Moss and lichen growing on the fences. Brooms and gardening tools near hobbit doors.

Even the mailboxes are hand-painted (and reflect the occupation of the hobbit who calls that hole home!).

Hobbiton
Laundry hanging out to dry
Details in Hobbiton
Honey pots at the beekeeper's house
Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand
A picnic lunch set up

Spend some time looking and you'll catch lots of adorable details. If you go in the spring/summer, the gardens crew has the place looking beautiful, with all sorts of colorful plants and flowers growing.

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

My favorite, though? All the signs on notice boards and inside the Green Dragon!

Details at Hobbiton

4. Have a pint at the Green Dragon

Speaking of the Green Dragon, you can actually go inside and have a pint at the hobbits' favorite pub at the end of your tour. There are specially-brewed beers here (and a non-alcoholic ginger beer) — and yes, it comes in pints!

Green Dragon in Hobbiton

Inside the Green Dragon Inn
Inside the Green Dragon

5. Have a full camera battery

If you're even a little bit like me and have ever envisioned yourself as a hobbit in Middle Earth, then a visit to Hobbiton is a MUST. Just be sure to fully charge your camera battery — I've heard of people taking hundreds of photos here in one day! (My count, in case you were curious, was close to 200…)

Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

Amanda in front of a hobbit hole

BONUS: Book the Evening Banquet Tour

If you want to take your Hobbiton experience up a notch, consider booking yourself on an Evening Banquet Tour. These tours take place only a couple times per week, and include not only an evening/sunset tour of the Hobbiton set, but also a multi-course hobbit-inspired feast inside the Green Dragon.

This is the ultimate experience for any wannabe hobbit!

 

IF YOU GO TO HOBBITON…

If you have a car and can get to Matamata yourself, you can book a tour directly with the farm, Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, which leave frequently from the farm's office/gift shop, the Shire's Rest.

If you don't have a car, you can also book a Hobbiton day tour from Auckland.

And if you're staying in Rotorua, you can book the Evening Banquet Tour with transport here.

 

READ NEXT: 5 Middle Earth Locations You Can Visit in Real Life

Who's ready to go to Hobbiton now??

 

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Visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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42 Comments on “Visiting Hobbiton (Yes, This Place is REAL)

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  1. Hello! Just wondering if it’s better to visit in the morning or afternoon from a lighting perspective? I’m hoping for light shining onto the hobbit holes from behind me (ie, so I’m not shooting into the sun). Love your pics and the write-up. 🙂

      I’m not positive on this, but I’ve visited in the morning and evening and got nice photos both times of day! Different hobbit holes face different directions, so while some are in shadow others will be in the sun.

    Thank you for the great review! We’re going in mid-April and driving from Auckland to Matamata. I will be there on my birthday! Is there anything else around the set or on the North Island that is LoTR related that shouldn’t be missed?

      There’s not anything else immediately around Matamata that I know of, but another site I really loved was in Piopio, which isn’t too far away. It was used as the Trollshaws in the Hobbit movies (where Bilbo saves the dwarves from being eaten by the trolls), and is also very cool to visit. You can read about it here: https://www.dangerous-business.com/2014/11/hunting-trolls-piopio/

    LOOOVE!! When did you visit? I’m dying to go next year but can’t narrow done which month. This isn’t just a dream. I AM going to New Zealand, so excited!! I love Hobbiton photos with all the flowers though!! Your pictures are my picture dreams lol

      I was there in November, which is a great time to go to see everything in bloom (November is late spring in NZ!). It’s a good time to go in general – before the summer tourist season sets in, but generally still pretty mild weather-wise.

    […] Yes, my precious, it’s a real place. Instead of going all the way to a fancy Hollywood studio, Peter Jackson knew this farm was the best possible location to set Hobbiton while filming The Lord of The Rings. Today, it is a permanent attraction including the little Hobbit holes, gardens and even the movie’…. […]

    […] Roughly 76 percent of the country’s inhabitants live on the North Island, with more than 30 percent calling Auckland home. But you know what? I don’t really like Auckland. It feels like any other decent-sized city in the world; to me, Auckland lacks character. By contrast, Wellington (also a North Island city) is bursting at the seems with character. It’s no secret that this is my favorite city in the world. The North Island is also home to fun cities like Taupo (a mecca for fishermen), unique stops like Rotorua (full of geothermal wonders), and wine-centric towns like Martinborough. And we can’t forget the farming community of Matamata, which is home to Hobbiton! […]

    […] trip to New Zealand would be complete without a trip to the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata. Pose with some colorful hobbit holes, and then have a pint at the Green Dragon […]

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