Have you always wanted to visit Hobbiton? Frankly, I’m not a huge Lord of the Rings fan (don’t hate me!) but I absolutely loved visiting The Shire in New Zealand.
Within 5 minutes of strolling the grounds I wanted to live here and was parading around singing, “A hobbit’s life for me!” Located on the Alexander family farm, this was a place that Peter Jackson spotted from above when scoping out potential movie sets. He could not have picked a better location.
The lush, green hills and pristine setting span for 12 acres and make you feel like you’re in Middle-earth, worlds away from all your problems and about as far as you can get from Mount Doom.
Today, the movie set remains and is a popular tourist attraction in the North Island of New Zealand. Read on to learn more about how you can plan your visit to Hobbiton Village.
How to Get to Hobbiton
Hobbiton is located in Matamata, about 2 hours from Auckland and one hour from Rotorua. You can rent a car and drive here on your own or you can get a guided tour to shuttle you back and forth. Often times tour companies pair this visit with the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a day trip from Auckland.
You can also take a bus from Auckland for about NZ$50-60, but this is your slowest option taking approximately 3 1/2 hours.
You will need to arrive at the main Hobbiton entrance and check in before taking a shuttle bus to the Alexander Farm. The address is 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3472, New Zealand.
The main entrance has a gift shop, small cafe and bathrooms, which I recommend you use before beginning your tour.
Visiting Hobbiton on Your Own
While you can drive here on your own, it is not possible to tour the movie set without a guide. You need to pay for a guided tour and pick a time of entry. The tour is costly at $84 for an adult ticket and $42 for a youth ticket, but well worth it. Children under the age of 8 are free.
Tours are scheduled from 9am until 3:30pm and last approximately 2 hours. You need to arrive at least 15 minutes before your tour. Depending on the season there may be extended hours.
You can also choose to supplement your ticket with breakfast or lunch ($26 and $36 respectively) and extend your visit to 2 1/2 to 3 hours. If you don’t want to prepay for your meal there are also snacks for sale upon arrival in the cafe, including meat pies and muffins, ranging from NZ$3-$6.
What does a Hobbiton Tour include?
Your tour includes a leisurely walk around the movie set, with an explanation about the buildings and the characters that were meant to live in each home. The guides are very skilled at taking pictures and happy to help you get the perfect shot. Tours are scheduled between 10-20 minutes of each other so there will be other groups coming behind you.
In addition to the walking tour, you are treated to your choice of a drink at the Green Dragon Inn at the end, either cider, beer or a non-alcoholic drink. I highly recommend opting for the cider — it’s delicious!
There’s also a video by Peter Jackson on the shuttle bus over to the farm explaining more about how he found the place and why he picked it to be the home of the hobbits.
Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour
In addition to the day tours, Hobbiton offers Evening Banquet Tours four times a week on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings year-round. These tickets cost $194/pp but include a tour of the set at dusk and again at night on your way out. At night, the set is lit up and looks completely different than it does during the day, with a tinge of magic.
The food is meant to resemble a traditional hobbit feast and includes slow cooked lamb shanks, beef and ale casserole and roast pumpkin. The dishes are set in the middle of the table for everyone to share and dig in. You will not leave hungry. The meal takes place in the Green Dragon Inn as well. The whole experience lasts 4 hours and you need to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure.
Know Before You Go
Hands down, the best time of day to visit Hobbiton is on the very first tour of the day. This way, you have minimal people on the set and you feel much less rushed. If you go in the middle of the day, it can get crowded. You need to make reservations far in advance so the moment you know you’re going to New Zealand, pick a day and book the first available tour.
Also, I hate to disappoint you but there is nothing behind the fancy doorways that you’ll see along the tour. No actual hobbits live here and the indoor scenes were all filmed elsewhere, so when you open a door all you’ll see is an empty space.
Despite this, there are many details on the outside of the homes like clothing lines with hobbit clothes hung up to dry, mini-hobbit wheelbarrows and fruit stands. It was raining when I arrived but the rain cleared up as we started walking. Bring an umbrella or hooded sweater with you just in case.
Is Hobbiton worth a visit? It’s a splurge for sure, but truly a one-of-a-kind place that is worth visiting while in New Zealand. After all, it’s not every day that you get to experience life in Middle-Earth!
Till next time, safe travels.
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