Visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand
I cannot think of any better way to geek out than to spend the day in Hobbiton. This place brings the Lord of the Rings to life in all its theatric glory.
The Lord of the Rings is a big deal here. They have a government official called The Minister of The Lord of the Rings whose job it is to get the most from tourism related to the movie.
The other sets have all been dismantled but Hobbiton had to be remade for the Hobbit Movies so they made it into a permanent structure. You can go see the exterior of 44 hobbit holes and have a beer in the Green Dragon. It was pretty hard to contain my excitement for two straight hours. Especially when you get to the Green Dragon and it looks just like it did in the movie. You can sit by the fire and have a pint of the Southfarthing’s finest.
Not only that, but if you book far enough in advance, you can even have dinner in a hobbit hole! We missed the boat on that one but an afternoon in Hobbiton was magical.
The location was chosen because of this hill, the pond, and the giant party tree you can see. It’s in the midst of some of New Zealand’s beautiful green, rolling hills. “Sir” Peter Jackson was flying over in a helicopter and chose it. When he talked to the farmer who owned the property he said he was about to cut the party tree down but could leave it if he liked.
The tree above Bag End was originally cut down from another part of the island and reassembled like a puzzle in Hobbiton. After The Lord of the Rings was filmed it fell apart. The new one was artificial and made by the set crew who had to attach each leaf individually. Two days before filming The Hobbit they decided the leaves didn’t look like the right color. They had to repaint every leaf before filming.
Some of the hobbit holes are big enough for people and some are made to be hobbit sized. This is so actors can look the appropriate size depending on the scene.
The moss on the gate is made of glue, sawdust and yogurt, then painted to the right color.
Each hobbit hole has it’s own function. Some are for bee-keepers, vegetable sellers, breads, that sort of thing. The one below required an employee to walk to the laundry line twice a day before filming to create realistic paths through the grass.
Hobbit is in Matamata which is about two hours away from Auckland. I’d recommend you book pretty far in advance. We didn’t but we were also there during low tourist season and didn’t realize we could have risked totally missing out on seeing it. You can book it online using the link above and also book a bus from Auckland if necessary.
The one suggestion I have is to book the dinner with it too. Make a whole day out of it. It’s a really impressive artistic effort and if you think you’re going to be the only one geeking out, you’re wrong. Everyone does.