We’ve all heard the saying, “Getting there is half the fun”. But where exactly is “there”? Our Explore series tells you where to go, how to get there, and what to do when you arrive. Happy travelling!
Explore Hobbit Village, New Zealand
When J.R.R Tolkien cooked up Middle Earth as the hometown of the characters of The Lord Of The Rings, he probably had no idea that it would end up becoming one of New Zealand’s most fascinating attractions. The hills of Matamata gave backdrop to this Hobbiton movie set, while the volcanic region of Mt Ruapehu was turned into Mt. Doom where the Ring was forged. Queenstown and its surroundings were used to represent the Eregion Hills, the Pillars of Argonath and other scenic locations of the The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and The Hobbit films. While many sets were eventually dismantled, the Hobbit Village was retained as an important attraction by the New Zealand tourism.
Director Peter Jackson stumbled upon the Alexander family farm near Matamata, during an aerial search for the perfect movie set, and was instantly impressed. It seemed as if the hobbits had already begun their excavation amidst this sheep and beef farm, situated in the rolling hills of the Waikato region. The construction of the movie set was complete in December 1999, and the shooting lasted almost 3 months. The set was rebuilt in 2011 for the feature films “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”.
Peter Jackson’s use and adaptation of the landscape was so visionary, that Hobbiton soon became a permanent tourist attraction. Guided tours to Hobbiton was initiated in the year 2002, and has since witnessed more than 3,50,000 visitors yearly.
What To See
The hobbit village is not just meant for fans of The Lord Of The Rings; an attraction this unique deserves a visit by anyone who wants to explore a man-made magical land. The mystical aura of this set, coupled up with the serenity of the rural town instantly captivates you, while fans can almost expect to see Frodo running around the hills.
Major attractions here include the Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, the Old Mill, and the double arched bridge.
The 1,250-acre Alexander farm comprises of 44 hobbits holes, including Bilbo Baggin’s home, Bag End. However, the holes are just exterior sets with only about 1m deep back wall; but they certainly make a pretty backdrop for pictures. Outside the homes or the hobbit holes, you can spot various items used by the characters, including smoked fish, honey pots, butterfly catchers, along with hobbit-sized pants and shirts hung on a clothesline.
You’ll be surprised to know that the old oak tree above Bilbo and Frodo’s hole is actually artificial. This realistic looking tree has been constructed with fibreglass. A guided tour will ensure you get acquainted with more of such tidbits and stories from the set.
After crossing the bridge, you’ll end up at The Green Dragon Inn. Yes the very same ‘great place’ that Frodo and his friends frequently visited. What’s more, you even receive a free drink as a part of the tour! The Inn also serves a special beer that was used during the filming of the movie. It’s ‘almost’ non-alcoholic, since you can’t really shoot a movie with drunk hobbits!
How To Get There
The humble abode of the hobbits is located at Matamata. This small agricultural town in the heart of the Waikato region is nestled at the base of the Kaimai ranges. The most popular route to the Hobbitton movie set is a 2 hour drive from Auckland. To reduce the driving time, you can reach the set from the following locations:
From Hamilton: 45 minute drive
From Rotorua: 45 minute drive
From Taupo: 1.5 hour drive
From Tauranga: 45 minute drive
From Waitomo: 1.5 hour drive
Best Time To Visit
The tour of the set lasts for about 1 hour 45 mins, and runs throughout the year between 9:30 to 3:30 pm. These hours are extended during summer to accommodate more tours. The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer, i.e from late November to February when the entire country is abuzz with outdoor activities. However, New Zealand is equally beautiful in the winter. So if you’re looking to try out some snow sports along with your trip to the Hobbiton movie set, head to New Zealand in June, July and August.
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