The Shire. Hobbiton. Bag End. The Green Dragon. It’s all REAL.
Hobbiton Movie Set invites all Middle Earth fans to discover Tolkien’s EPIC fantasy world from the popular The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit trilogies. For those not aware, Hobbiton is part of a region called The Shire. It’s described as a peaceful and hospitable village, home of the little folk, known as Hobbits.
Bright-eyed & red-cheeked, with mouths apt to laughter and delighted in presents, Hobbits are not in the least interested in world politics or the matters of man. Do you think places like this only exist in fairytales, right?
You can visit hobbit village in Matamata, New Zealand with a two-hour guided tour of Hobbiton Movie Set.
In this travel guide you can find:
- some amazing photos from my latest visit
- helpful info & tips before visiting Hobbiton
What is Hobbiton?
Unless you’ve been living in a burrow deep inside the ground you must have heard about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. Both movie trilogies have been filmed in New Zealand.
Hobbiton Movie Set represents the homeland of the Hobbits, a protagonist race in both trilogies. They live in a peaceful green fantasyland, a lush paradise on (middle) earth, called The Shire.
It’s the only movie set still standing from the movie trilogies. 14 acres full of farms, polished gardens and 44 hobbit holes, the dwellings of the Hobbits, dug into the hillside.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Where on (middle) earth is Hobbiton Movie Set?
Hobbiton can be found on a picturesque farm in New Zealand and that’s the closest anyone can get to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
The movie set is located just outside Matamata, a tiny town on the North Island. The closest big city is Rotorua (1 hour by car).
Now picture this!
Colorful hobbit holes in various sizes & shapes amidst a region of emerald fields. The hobbit village stretches across rolling hills with spectacular views over the Kaimai Ranges.
And that’s your typical New Zealand countryside.
Deep into the Waikato region of the North Island, the farm was picked by Sir Peter Jackson to represent The Shire.
The picturesque 1.250-acre property numbers approximately 13.000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle.
No matter where I looked, it was impossible to locate tall buildings, power lines or highways. All I could see was farmlands and sheep occasionally scattered across the green fields.
The setting is still miraculously untouched by the 21st century.
What can you see in Hobbiton Movie Set?
It’s all there. The Old Mill, the Green Dragon Inn, the famous Party Tree, and last but not least, Bag End. In total, the set has 44 hobbit homes scattered all around the landscape. Each one has it own special little details.
What this place is only missing is actual Hobbits.
I found it really hard to convince myself that I wouldn’t be seeing Frodo running and leaping onto Gandalf’s cart.
I was in a group of 25 and I could also see other groups touring Hobbiton at the same time. Yes, at some points it felt crowdy and rushy but there is time to take photos on your own. There’s also that one hobbit hole you can get inside so that the tour guide can a pic of you!
The Shire’s Rest
That’s the start of your adventure!
You can find a ticket centre, a gift shop, a café and a garden bar. Grab something to eat while enjoying some amazing views over the surrounding countryside. Tours run every 30 minutes so you have plenty of time to roam around.
A bus that will take you to Hobbiton and a video featuring Peter Jackson himself will start getting you into the mood!
You may start feeling excited now!
Taking a tour in a real Hobbit village
“Welcome to Hobbiton, home to those amazing creatures called Hobbits”, our tour guide said and excitement started setting in.
As soon as I entered the hobbiton village I instantly recognised Bag End further up the hill and the gigantic party tree, where Bilbo shot his final stunt before setting off for his adventure. Numerous hobbit-holes were all around me, each one with its own garden, ponds and colourful flowers adding to the already picturesque scenery. It definitely felt chaotic; it was too much to take in at first.
After the initial shock, I picked up on the incredible attention given to detail. Lichen growing on the fences, cute little picnic setups by the lake, laundry lines with miniature costumes hung up to dry, fruit stands and hobbit-sized wheelbarrows – the set is so authentic and looks like you’ve stumbled upon a small but real breathing village.
Roaming around the Hobbit holes
All 44 hobbit holes are purposely made to look aged as they have been there for years, with extreme details like moss and numerous other touches that reflect the occupation or everyday life of the actual hobbit living there. For example, it was easy to tell the hobbit-hole of the cheesemaker due to several huge rounds of cheese spotted in a window.
Another hobbit-hole definitely belonged to a family with two children since a pair of tiny hobbit clothes were hung out on the clothesline to dry. A florist and a baker were also on the scene with their detailed gorgeous little shop stands right at the front of their properties.
Meanwhile, a hobbit decided to take advantage of springtime and spend some time on the lake making sure to let everyone looking for him know by placing a “Gone Fishing” sign next to the door. It’s amazing how each individual structure on the Hobbiton Movie Set has its own colour, theme and unique decoration – gardening tools and brooms dropped on cabbage gardens, honey pots, little picket fences, butterfly catchers and hand-painted mailboxes awaiting the morning delivery. Those adorable details really add up to the surreal setting – I was literally expecting a Hobbit party to explode at any moment.
Sadly enough the hobbit-holes are just facades with all the interior filming done at a studio in Wellington. Nevertheless, the whimsical landscape of Hobbiton will help you a great deal to immerse into Tolkien’s amazing fantasy world of tiny creatures and magical rings of ancient power.
One thing you’ll notice is that not all hobbit-holes are of the same size. Some of them are full human-sized while others are much smaller. Our tour guide explained that they had to create these different scales for filming, in order to create perspective between the Hobbits, Gandalf and the Dwarves.
There is such a rich collection of weird facts & stories about the making of Hobbiton Movie Set; hopefully, we have collected almost all of them in one article.
Bag End – The most luxurious hobbit hole
At the top of the Hobbiton Hill lies the most famous and elegant hobbit-hole, home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Bag End. Truly remarkable, a highlight of the whole tour, it holds the best view over Hobbiton – the party tree, the Old Mill, the double-arched stone bridge leading to the Green Dragon; you can spot everything pretty much easily.
The entrance to Bag End was a perfectly round green door featuring a brass knob in the centre. The entryway was a tube-shaped hall with panelled walls and a tiled floor, furnished with carpeting, polished chairs, and an abundance of pegs for the hats and coats of many visitors. […] The best rooms were those on the left side of the passage for they had deep-set round windows with a view of the garden and meadows beyond down to The Water.
The elaborate dwelling features a perfectly round weathered green door with a yellow brass exactly in the middle, waiting to be knocked. The iconic hobbit-hole is surrounded by flowers, a giant pumpkin and Bilbo’s renowned “no admittance – except on party business” sign still nailed to the front gate.
Did you know?
According to JRR Tolkien, the wealthier hobbits lived higher up the hill. That’s why Bilbo lived at the top of them all!
Having the chance to visit Bag End and peering out at the hobbiton village, just like Bilbo and Gandalf did so while smoking the pipe-weed and watching the sunset is purely priceless.
Tip: The oak tree overlooking Bag End is artificial, made from fibreglass. To make it look alive, hand-painted silk leaves from Taiwan were imported and glued to the tree one-by-one.
A Hobbit-hole you don’t want to skip
Samwise Gamgee. A gardener by trade with a great love for Elves and a gift for poetry, Frodo’s best mate and a ring-bearer – the only original member of the fellowship to make the journey till the very end at Mount Doom. Surely you don’t want to miss that hobbit’s residence right at 3 Bagshot Row, close to Bag End. Sam’s dwelling with its yellow round door is decorated with colourful flowers – red, purple, yellow, orange. In my opinion, this is one of the cutest hobbit-holes in all Hobbiton Movie Set.
He faced far greater […] and terrible foes than he ever should have had to face, and did so with courage. He went alone into a black and terrible land, stormed a dark fortress, and resisted the most terrible temptation of his world for the sake of the friend that he loved. That in the end, it was his actions and his actions alone that made it possible for light to overcome darkness.
Tip: Sam’s hobbit-hole is featured in the last film of the original trilogy; after bidding farewell to Frodo, he can be seen returning home.
Drinking at The Green Dragon – The only brew for the brave and true
There’s only one Dragon in Bywater, and that’s Green.
One of the best parts of the Hobbiton tour is The Green Dragon, a popular inn frequented by Hobbits from both Bywater & Hobbiton.
That’s the spot where Bilbo met Thorin right before starting their epic quest of reclaiming Erebor from the dragon Smaug.
But here’s the best…
Not only you can actually step inside but you can also order a full human-sized beer. They are all brewed locally and you can get one for free. Ginger beer is also served as an non-alcoholic option.
What’s more, you can enjoy traditional Hobbit delicacies like beef and ale pie, cold pork pie and cheese mousetrap – whatever this last one is.
The area outside the pub is rather scenic. Here, you can find the double-arched bridge along with an operational mill, a little dock with fishing rods and picnic stuff by the lake; there is even some hobbit-themed music playing. Therefore, it’s a great idea to grab your meal and head outdoors. Don’t forget to claim your free pint; the Green Dragon is famous for the brownest ale in all Middle-Earth.blockquote]
At the back exit of the inn there some hobbit clothes for you to try! Pose with your favorite costume and grab that much-expected shot!
But how is the interior decorated?
Today, the Green Dragon is a replica of what was depicted in the films as it is the sole building in the Hobbiton Movie Set that it’s completely built from the inside out. The wood and stone used in its construction and design along with the earth-like bright colours make it feel welcoming and warm. Some chairs and rustic tables are placed below the rounded windows and a couple of leather armchairs next to a fireplace are tempting you to settle in and relax reading a book by the fire.
The slanted roofs and the round doorways, the replica paintings, the authentic kegs and the aged glass panes will all take you to a different age. Unfortunately, you only have about 20 to 30 minutes to soak up the atmosphere of this whimsical old-world tavern.
Once inside the pub keep your eyes open for hidden gems like the following poem:
A wizard too clever by half,
Lit some fireworks just for a laugh;
But with too little care,
for he singed all his hair
and set fire to the end of his staff!
Tip: Make sure you take some time to read the hilarious signs posted by the bar; job vacancies, lost item notes and announcements.
The story of Hobbiton so far…
The year is 1998.
Peter Jackson is looking for a place in New Zealand to serve as the village where the hobbits live.
That’s when he flew over Alexander’s farm in Waikato. Where everyone saw a beautiful farm, Peter Jackson pictured The Shire as described by Tolkien in his books.
A small but beautiful, idyllic and fruitful land […] with unspoiled green pastures, a rising hill (where Bag End sits) and a magnificent pine tree by a lake.
Construction of the Hobbiton Movie Set and the filming of LOTR trilogy started in 1999 and took three months. The movie set was made from temporary materials like foam and was torn down after filming.
However, as word got out and the location of the movie set was identified, fans flooded in and the Alexander family started running the first tours in 2002.
In 2009, when the time came to film The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson asked for permission to recreate Hobbiton on the farm. An agreement was struck and Hobbiton was re-built, this time with permanent materials so it can be visited in real life and stand the test of time.
Hobbiton Movie Set officially opened to public for tours in 2012.
Visiting Hobbiton & ticket prices
Hobbiton Movie Set can only be visited on a guided tour.
It’s really popular so make sure to book early, especially in summer. Tours are running daily from 09:00 to 15:00 and last 2 hours. Therefore, you can pick the one that suits you best.
The ticket price for the casual Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is $89 NZD for adults, $44 NZD for youths and free for children under 8 years old. Family passes on a discount are also available.
Feeling like you want the full experience?
For all those true Hobbits out there there are additional premium experiences available.
Evening Banquet Tour – A day walking tour followed by a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit served in The Green Dragon Inn available at $199 NZD (1 tour per day)
Second Breakfast Tour – A privileged early morning tour followed by a hearty breakfast inside The Millhouse available at $149 NZD (1 tour per day)
There are additional seasonal experiences available but they are fully booked months ago!
- Mid-Winter Feast available on selected dates during summer (4.5 hours)
- International Hobbit Day available yearly on 22nd September (5 hours)
- Hobbiton Movie Set Beer Festival including a tour, a number of ales to taste, a buffet meal and a themed band (5 hours)
You can visit the Hobbiton Tours website for more info!
Where to stay near Hobbiton
Wished you could stay inside those tiny hobbit holes?
Unfortunately, you can’t!
I can feel your disappointment, trust me, I’ve been there!
However, there are several accommodation options in the nearby towns:
- Matamata (15 mins)
- Hamilton (45 mins)
- Rotorua (55 mins)
Still wanna spend a night inside a hobbit house?
- Woodlyn Park Hotel – ideal for family fun (75 mins from Hobbiton)
- Underhill Valley – a rustic adults only cave house (55 mins from Hobbiton)
Both of these hobbit hole houses are the closest you can get to a stay in The Shire.
How can you get to Hobbiton?
Back in the early 2000s, you would have to hone your tracking skills. Printed instructions found online in forums and a map (yup, a paper one not Google Maps) were vital if you were to see Hobbiton.
Today, it’s easier than ever to visit Hobbiton as there signs all over the North Island! You can either use your own vehicle (recommended) or book a tour from the official website, from Rotorua & Matamata.
As of May 2021, tours are only offered from The Shire’s Rest, approximately 15 mins. drive from Matamata.
Driving to Hobbiton
- Matamata – 15 mins. (16 km)
- Rotorua – 55 mins (70 km)
- Taupo – 90 mins (120 km)
- Auckland – 130 mins (170 km)
Is Hobbiton Movie Set worth a visit?
Is it crowded? Definitely!
Would I do it again? Hell, yes!
Not only it was a dream coming true but it was certainly one of the highlights of my New Zealand trip.
That little special place, located in a remote corner of the world is totally surreal; it’s exactly like Tolkien described and imagined. As I strolled through Hobbiton with its lush green hills and quaint hobbit-holes, I felt worlds away from reality.
I just couldn’t believe that all the magic of Middle-Earth is alive and well preserved. It’s rare to have the opportunity to visit the exact place where one of your favourite universe comes to life!
If you are not a LOTR fan or even you are a hobby photographer you will definitely fall in love with the village. After visiting you wont stop wondering what it would be like to live in one of these fairytale Hobbit houses.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, it’s a no-brainer. That’s a must-visit in New Zealand!
What would I do different?
I would surely book the evening banquet. Not only the movie set is not crowded during evening but you could also take shot of Hobbiton during sunset. Not to mention, the dinner inside the Green Dragon Inn!
The moment I stepped in Hobbiton I understood why people cross the world to visit; it simply feels like home!
Comfort, an easygoing lifestyle, numerous parties, pipe-weed and up to six meals per day. Who wouldn’t want to live like a hobbit? Ever since I became a Tolkien fan, I could easily picture myself living happily in that quaint village called Hobbiton.
Know before you go
Tours depart daily from 09:00 to 15:30.
The evening dinner tour includes a guided tour through The Shire at dusk. As soon as the tour concludes, you will be taken to the Green Dragon where you will be treated to a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit. The night tour experience concludes with a walk back through the wandering paths of Hobbiton under the moonlight and your lanterns illuminating the way.
The casual walking tour takes approximately 2 hours. There are several other experiences you can book to enjoy Hobbiton to it’s full potential. See all the tour options here!
The best season to visit is spring. The hobbit village is full of colourful plants and blossoming flowers tidied up in flawless gardens and grassy paths. See Hobbiton photos in spring!
You can only visit Hobbiton on a guided tour that costs $89 NZD for adults. However, there are additional experiences if you want to make the the best of your visit. See all the available options here!
Unfortunately not but don’ get disappointed! There are themed hobbit-house accommodation options nearby. View them all here!
Surprisingly enough, no! Hobbiton consists of facades with nothing inside. The only exceptions are the Green Dragon Inn, The Millhouse and an empty hobbit house! Here are some pictures!
Yes, even if there are other groups touring the village simultaneously, you have the time to get some photos! However, for those who want Hobbiton for themselves, there are other less-crowded experiences! Read all about them here!
The official website provides bus transfers from Matamata & Rotorua. However, as with every experience in New Zealand, it’s always better if you self-drive. Learn more about driving distances here!
Hobbiton is one of the places where a tiny & peaceful race called The Hobbits, lives. It’s located in the centre of The Shire, homeland of the majority of the hobbits in Middle-earth. Can’t believe it’s real? See some epic photos for yourself!
|Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Matamata 3472||Parking: Available, Free|
|Tour Duration: 2 hours||Official Website: Hobbiton Movie Set Tours|
|Hours: 09:00 to 15:00, every 30 mins.||Wheelchair accessible: Yes, prior contact needed|