New Zealand: The Hobbiton film set

An empty road winds through bucolic farmland in the green Waikato region of New Zealand. I don’t pass another soul for twenty minutes and then, suddenly I drive around a bend and there’s a hive of activity! By which I mean 20 people (New Zealand is never very crowded) enjoying breakfast at The Shire’s Rest Café. I have arrived in Hobbiton, ready for some escapism, Tolkien style.

The Shire's Rest Cafe, Hobbiton, New Zealand

The film set built for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, then repaired and expanded for the filming of The Hobbit trilogy, is owned by New Line Cinemas. It is on private land – New Zealand doesn’t have the sort of public right of access you find in places like England.

Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

But a partnership between LOTR/Hobbit director Peter Jackson and the family who own the farm have turned the Hobbiton film set into a tourism magnet for this little visited part of New Zealand.

The Alexander family farm is approximately 500 hectares, with 14,000 Romney sheep and 600 black Angus cattle in residence. The Hobbiton film set is away over the back of the farm so there’s little chance to seeing it without going on a guided tour.

Bag End, Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

Tour the LOTR Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand

Tours run from either the Shire’s Rest Café (and farm experience) at the roadside or from the township of Matamata. It’s a ten minute bus ride from the cafe to the Hobbiton set itself and the guides are friendly local folk.

Priced at $75 for an adult ticket this attraction is going to be out of reach for many New Zealanders and travellers but they seem to be pulling in good numbers, including Tolkien fans who come dressed as Elves and Hobbits ready to dance in the party field.

Hobbit hole, Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

Soon they will even be able to have a drink at the Green Dragon Pub. The film set pub façade – part of the Mill, marketplace, stone bridge ensemble – is being expanded into a proper pub and venue.

The Green Dragon Pub, Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

According to the tour guide a 6’5” German fellow threatened to stay in his “home” and it took most of the day to persuade him to leave. Two couples have already got married here at Hobbiton.

The Mill, Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

So what drew Peter Jackson and his LOTR film set scouts to the  countryside of the Waikato back in 1997? Vistas of the Kaimai Ranges are blue in the distance and in the foreground is rolling green farmland with scattered treelines. It also has … the Party tree … a huge old pine that is slowly dying and which the Alexander family apparently were about to have cut down!

The Party Field, Hobbiton, New Zealand

Hobbiton is really charming, with 44 hobbit houses (five new ones were built for The Hobbit filming) and immaculately kept gardens. Jackson insisted on real gardens with edible vegetables and the scent of honeysuckle was heavy on the air.

It is easy to lose yourself in a Tolkienesque fantasy and difficult to imagine there being 200 or so vehicles parked here and many hundreds of people working on the LOTR and Hobbit films. There was a food tent that catered for four to six hundred people every day.

Hobbiton film set, New Zealand

Gandalf’s cutting, the party field, the Gaffer’s cottage and of course Bag End with its fake tree atop the Hill and the bench on which Bilbo and Gandalf blow their smoke rings. It’s all here in glorious detail.

By Natasha von Geldern

Are you a Tolkien fan? Would you visit the Hobbiton film set in New Zealand?

If you liked this post why not pin it?

Visit the Hobbiton Film Set in New Zealand

By on .

20 Replies to “New Zealand: The Hobbiton film set”

  1. Kaleb

    I just stumbled across this post today and coincidentally, my father and I took the tour today. Was it pricey? Yes. Was it awesome? Hell yeah. Was it worth it? We are making plans for my father’s one hundred and eleventh birthday to be held there. That is many years out but we planted the seed today. The place has so much detail and care put into it that it is simply amazing. Now its time to bask in the shadow of Mt Doom.

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      What a great idea!! It is wonderfully detailed isn’t it! I was so impressed and think any true fan would just be in heaven visiting Hobbiton 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your time in New Zealand.

      Reply
  2. Hannah

    Hi Natasha, What a nice article about Hobbiton, and awesome photos! I live not far from here and am still yet to go. So hard to be a tourist in your own backyard. I’m curious – are you from New Zealand? The name kiwi makes me think so…. but I can’t find reference to where you are from (not that I’ve looked too hard)
    Also the nearby town is called Matamata (one word).
    Thanks for the good article
    Hannah

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      Hi Hannah, thanks so much for your kind comment! I grew up in Hamilton – so not so far away from Matamata (thanks for the correction I had forgotten). I remember going to a summer camp near there once. I have also lived in Wellington and at the moment I am based in the UK – a true Wandering Kiwi 🙂 I love coming back to NZ though.

      The Hobbiton Film set is such an asset for the area, I just loved it and so do all the visitors. It is very expensive I think, for New Zealanders and everyone really, but I just felt I had to go when I was visiting my parents in Hamilton.

      All the best,
      Natasha

      Reply
  3. roseann cunningham

    I’d love to go to Hobbitton with my friend who is over from London. How much does it cost? Can we go on Saturday 4th April 2015?

    Reply
  4. William

    II don’t understand how people are calling $75 “steep”. I’m confused, did I miss something somewhere? Most people blow that much money on nothing at least once a month. Especially if you’re from another country I don’t understand how out of $1000+ vacation $75 for this is too expensive. I’ve drank that at a local pub on a depressed lonely night for no reason.

    Reply
    • Natasha von Geldern Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Hobbiton is well worth visiting but the most expensive attraction in London is the Tower and that’s less than NZ60 for a world famous attraction. I guess people from overseas sometimes don’t realise the cost of living in New Zealand.

      Reply

Leave a Reply