“New Zealand is not a small country but a large village”

Peter Jackson – Director, writer, and producer of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy

When planning our Kiwi Road Trip, we couldn’t possibly travel the North Island without experiencing the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.

The Hobbiton movie set may be just 2 hours drive from Auckland, but you’ll feel like you’re in a fantasy land.

In this blog we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about visiting Hobbiton and tell you all about our own experience, without ruining any of the magic, we promise…

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

We drove our Jucy Rental car from Hot Water Beach to Hobbiton which took just over 2 hours, but you can easily drive from Auckland (2 hrs), Rotorua (45 mins), Hamilton (45 mins) or Taupo (1.5 hrs).

If you’ve been following our Kiwi Road Trip series you’ll already know that we bravely decided to make our way around the North Island without a sat-nav or a map. Hobbiton is just outside the charming town of Matamata and we arrived into the town centre easily just by following the road signs from Hot Water Beach.

That being said, we were running a little behind schedule and decided to stop at the i-site (information centre) for directions to the film set to save time looking for it ourselves.

The lovely staff drew us a little map and off we went again for a 20 minute drive into the heart of Waikato, arriving at The Shire’s Rest where all the tours start from.

There is free on-site parking, which was handy, and we quickly checked in for our tour and boarded the big green Hobbiton bus to start our journey.

The Hobbiton movie set is actually built into the hills of the 1250 acre Alexander farm, which still functions as a working sheep farm to this day. 1250 acres is quite a lot, hence the bus ride – but the tour begins on board with a televised welcome message, and short history of the farm, from Sir Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbiton trilogies.

Jackson explains how The Shire was built at Alexander Farm for the Lord of the Rings trilogy but was torn down after filming wrapped. The set was made mostly of polystyrene and plywood, which was dismantled when filming was complete.

In 2009, Sir Peter Jackson returned to film The Hobbit trilogy, and he left behind the movie set as you’ll find it today.

Hobbiton Bus
Hobbiton Village

Now, I may be a self-confessed Lord of the Rings fanatic but you definitely don’t need to be to enjoy the experience! 40% of visitors to the Hobbiton Movie Set have never seen or read either of the J. R. R Tolkien trilogies.

Although Hobbiton is a major tourist attraction, the way that they stagger the tour groups means that it doesn’t feel too busy and you have plenty of time for photo opportunities.

Our tour guide was fun, patient(!) and informative as she led us around green fields and through orchards, pointing out which of the details were real or man-made movie set props. In a lot of cases it was hard to tell the difference, there was even a fake tree at Bag End, with hand painted leaves!

Scattered around the movie set are 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes, each built with astounding detail. Try and spot the Hobbit Holes belonging to the beekeeper, the fisherman and the cheese monger, though the highlights are the home of Samwise and of course, Bag End – the home of Bilbo and then Frodo Baggins.

You can steal a peek inside some of the Hobbit holes but unfortunately, you won’t find anything in there! The filming of the insides of the Hobbit holes was done in film studios in Wellington.

There is one Hobbit hole that you can step inside for that iconic ‘inside a Hobbit hole’ photo, and your tour guide will be more than happy to snap some pics for you!

The last stop of our tour before getting back on board the Hobbiton bus, was to The Green Dragon Inn. The price of your tour includes 1 beverage at the Green Dragon and you can choose from either lager, stout, cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer.

I opted for the dark stout (yum) and Laura had the lager. The Green Dragon looked just as you’d expect for a pub in the middle of Hobbiton and no detail was spared! From the intricately carved wooden archways to the Hobbit-sized jackets and aprons hanging on the coat racks.

We enjoyed our drinks by the fireplace and felt just like little Hobbitses!

Emma Hobbiton Movie Set
Bag End Hobbiton

For an additional cost you can add on a buffet lunch to your guided tour, or for something extra special, experience Hobbiton at dusk with a guided tour of the Shire and evening banquet feast.

We would definitely have indulged in the evening banquet feast if we didn’t have an afternoon tour of the Waitomo Caves booked for the same day.

Waitomo is about an hour and a half away by car and you can check out our blog post about the incredible Waitomo Glowworm caves here!

Here are some of the questions we often get asked about visiting Hobbiton, but feel free to contact us if you have any queries!

  • Do I need to book to visit Hobbiton or can I just show up?

You can show up and book a ticket at The Shire’s Rest but you may have a long waiting time or be out of luck – these tours fill up days in advance so we recommend booking ahead of time.

  • Can I visit Hobbiton by myself, without a tour guide?

You can self-drive to the movie set location, but you can only visit the actual Hobbiton movie set with a tour guide.

  • How do I visit Hobbiton from Auckland?

There are plenty of tours which include hotel pick-ups and driver commentary, departing from either Auckland or Rotorua. You can also self-drive or InterCity offer daily departures from Auckland. Ask us about booking a rental car or transport!

  • Can I take photos at Hobbiton?

Yes, you can take as many photos as you like with a camera or phone, but drones are not permitted.

Hobbiton Sign
Hobbiton Trip NZ
Rotorua Cultural Mini Pack
Hobbiton View with bridge
The Green Dragon Inn

Contact us now to book your Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, or if you’re looking for a package deal, check out our Rotorua Mini Pack which includes a guided Hobbiton Tour as well as 3 nights accommodation, Mt. Tarawera Volcanic Crater Experience, and a traditional Indigenous Experience and Feast.

If you’d like to learn more about visiting New Zealand, check out our guide to traveling both islands!

NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL GUIDE

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve visited Hobbiton or if it’s on your bucket list.

Thanks for reading – we’re off to binge-watch the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies!