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A visit to Hobbiton in New Zealand

by Nikos Taskos
50 minutes read

The Shire. Hobbiton. Bag End. The Green Dragon. It’s all REAL.

Hobbiton Movie Set invites Middle Earth fans to discover Tolkien’s EPIC fantasy world as seen in The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit trilogies.

blue door at hobbiton movie set new zealand
Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

In this travel guide, you can find helpful info & tips before visiting Hobbiton and some amazing photos from my latest visit.

View of Hobbiton Movie Set with Bag End up on Hobbiton Hill
View of Hobbiton Movie Set with Bag End up on Hobbiton Hill (Image © Miles with Vibes)

What is Hobbiton?

Unless you live in a burrow deep down in the ground you must have heard about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. Both movie trilogies were 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.

green door at hobbiton movie set
Photo by Douglas Bagg on Unsplash

It’s the only movie set from the movie trilogies still standing and that’s the closest anyone can get to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. 14 acres full of farms, polished gardens and 44 hobbit holes, dug into the hillside.

Now picture this!

Colourful hobbit holes in various sizes & shapes in a region of emerald fields. The hobbit village stretches across rolling hills with spectacular views over the surrounding area.

And that’s your typical New Zealand countryside.

View of Hobbiton - the double-arched bridge and the Old Mill
Green hills, blue sky, picnic by the lake; Hobbiton is a paradise on (Middle) Earth (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.
“The Hobbit” or “There and Back Again”

Where is Hobbiton in New Zealand?

Hobbiton is located just outside Matamata, a small town in the Waikato Region of the North Island. The closest big city is Rotorua, 1 hour by car.

the green landscape at hobbiton mobie set in matamata
Photo by Adrien Aletti on Unsplash

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.

The setting is miraculously untouched by the 21st century.

No matter where I looked, it was impossible to locate tall buildings, power lines, or highways. All I could see were farmlands and sheep.

A path between lush green hills in Hobbiton Movie Set within the Alexander Farm
The Alexander Farm is an operational farm with lush green hills (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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 its own special little details. What this place is only missing is actual Hobbits.

blue and yellow hobbit holes at hobbiton new zealand
Photo by Thomas Schweighofer on Unsplash

I found it hard to convince myself that I wouldn’t see 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. At some points it felt crowded 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 take 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!

A bus will take you to Hobbiton and a video featuring Peter Jackson himself will get you into the mood!

You may start feeling excited now!

Taking a tour of a real Hobbit village

Welcome to Hobbiton, home to those amazing creatures called Hobbits”, our tour guide said.

Welcome to Hobbiton Movie Set sign
Welcome to Hobbiton – a true Middle-Earth experience awaits (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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 all around me, each one with its own garden, ponds and colourful flowers adding to the already picturesque scenery.

A hobbit-hole with its own fenced garden, outdoor workplace and swing
A hobbit-hole with its own fenced garden, outdoor workplace and swing (Image © Miles with Vibes)

After the initial shock, I noticed 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 village.

Clothes hung to dry out in Hobbiton Movie Set
Clothes left out to dry – the attention given to detail in Hobbiton Movie Set is amazing (Image © Miles with Vibes)

Decide on what you want to focus on. You either stand close to the tour guide hearing most of the interesting facts and the history of Hobbiton or fall behind to get less crowded photos. I’d say go for the photos and read all the weird facts about Hobbiton here!

Roaming around the Hobbit holes

All 44 hobbit holes look aged as they have been there for years, with extreme details and numerous other touches that reflect the occupation 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.

hobbit house at new zealand
Image by reginasphotos from Pixabay

Another hobbit-hole 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 in front of their properties.

Meanwhile, a hobbit decided to spend some time on the lake. A “Gone Fishing” sign next to the door indicated it!

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.

Orange hobbit house at Hobbiton Movie Set
Who wouldn’t want to retire in a place like that? (Image © Miles with Vibes)

The whimsical landscape of Hobbiton helps you immerse into Tolkien’s amazing fantasy world of tiny creatures & magical rings of ancient power.

You’ll also notice 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 used different scales for filming, in order to create perspective between the Hobbits, Gandalf and the Dwarves.

a bakery shop at hobbit village in matamata
Photo by Claire Proud on Unsplash

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.

Can I go inside the hobbit hole?

As of December 2022, you cannot visit any of the hobbit holes. The hobbit-holes are just facades with all the interior filming done at a studio in Wellington.

However, a new development estimated to be completed in December 2023 will bring visitors inside a fully themed Hobbit Hole interior. Expect a fully authentic experience since the Art Director of The Hobbit is involved in the concept design.

Each interior will feature an entry hall, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and dining area, an equipped pantry and a parlour complete with a crackling fireplace!

The tour will be increased by 30 minutes with the prices also increasing to reflect this new experience.

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 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 easily from up here.

bag end hobbit house with green door and its garden
Image by Ricardo Helass from Pixabay

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 Hobbit, Chapter 1 – An Unexpected Party

The elaborate dwelling features a perfectly round weathered green door with a yellow brass exactly in the middle, waiting to be knocked.

The renowned Bag End; residence of the Baggins family
The renowned Bag End; residence of the Baggins family (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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!

Visiting Bag End and looking at the Hobbiton village, just like Bilbo and Gandalf did while smoking pipe-weed & watching the sunset was priceless.

sun set with pink clouds in front of a tree at hobbiton movie set
Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

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 can’t miss

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. 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.

The smial (hobbit-hole) of Sam - ring-bearer, elf-lover and Frodo's best mate
The smial (hobbit-hole) of Sam – ring-bearer, elf-lover and Frodo’s best mate (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.
Sanya about Samwise Gamgee

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 brew at The Green Dragon

One of the best parts of the Hobbiton tour is The Green Dragon, a popular inn frequented by Hobbits from both Bywater & Hobbiton.

The Green Dragon Inn exterior at Hobbiton Movie Set
The Green Dragon Inn – home of the brownest and finest ale in all of Middle Earth (Image © Miles with Vibes)

There’s only one Dragon in Bywater, and that’s Green.
Ted Sandyman, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1

That’s the spot where Bilbo met Thorin before starting the 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 Green Dragon Inn Menu - Pricelist
Original hobbit delicacies for you to try – don’t forget to grab your free pint of ale (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

At the back exit of the inn there some hobbit clothes for you to try! Pose with your favorite costume and take that shot!

The Green Dragon Inn beautifully decorated exterior with the bridge and mill visible in the background
The Green Dragon Inn’s beautifully decorated exterior with the bridge and mill visible in the background (Image © Miles with Vibes)

But how is the interior decorated?

The Green Dragon is a replica of what was depicted in the films!

The wood and stone used in its construction along with the earth-like bright colours make it feel welcoming and warm. A couple of leather armchairs next to the fireplace tempt you to settle in and relax reading a book by the fire.

The Green Dragon Inn warm interior with chairs by the round windows in Hobbiton Movie Set
Take a sit but keep an eye out of the windows; you might even spot a hobbit (Image © Miles with Vibes)

The slanted roofs and the round doorways, the replica paintings, the authentic kegs and the aged glass panes will take you to a different age. Unfortunately, you only have about 20 to 30 minutes to soak up the atmosphere of this old-world tavern.

A dragon handmade woodwork above the bar in The Green Dragon Inn, New Zealand
Otherworldly and carefully crafted, this green dragon woodwork can be found directly about the counter (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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 Green Dragon Inn announcement board - job offers, lost and found and funny quotes
Keep an eye to the announcement board; you might be able to find a job matching your skills (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

Cute hobbit-hole with colourful garden in Hobbiton Movie Set
A beautiful garden with colourful flowers is all that particular Hobbit needs (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

Samwise Gamgee's hobbit hole
Photo by Nikhil Prasad on Unsplash

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.

The Old Mill by the lake at Hobbiton Movie Set - Miles with Vibes
The picturesque mill by the lake as seen from the double-arched bridge (Image © Miles with Vibes)

Visiting Hobbiton & ticket prices

Hobbiton Movie Set can only be visited on a guided tour.

It’s really popular so book early, especially in summer. Tours are running daily from 09:00 to 16:30 and last 2 hours.

As of December 2022, 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.

breakfast tour at hobbiton

Feeling like you want the full experience?

For all true Hobbits there are additional premium experiences.

Evening Banquet Tour – A day walking tour followed by a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit served in The Green Dragon Inn for $199 NZD

Second Breakfast Tour – A privileged early morning tour followed by a hearty breakfast inside The Millhouse for $149 NZD

hobbiton evening tour buffet table
The Evening Banquet Tour includes a dinner fit to true hobbits

There are additional seasonal experiences available but can be 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!

Starting from December 2023, when the new development in Hobbiton Movie Set will be completed all ticket prices will be increased.

hobbiton at night during evening tour
Hobbiton is magical after the sun sets

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?

Both of these hobbit hole houses are the closest you can get to a stay in The Shire.

Helpful Info

Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Matamata 3472Parking: Available, Free
Tour Duration: 2 hoursOfficial Website: Hobbiton Movie Set Tours
Hours: 09:00 to 16:30, every 30 mins.Wheelchair accessible: Yes, prior contact needed

How can you get to Hobbiton?

Back in the early 2000s, you would have to hone your tracking skills. Printed instructions found in online 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 are 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.

Self-driving to Hobbiton
  • Matamata – 15 mins. (16 km)
  • Rotorua – 55 mins (70 km)
  • Taupo – 90 mins (120 km)
  • Auckland – 130 mins (170 km)

Bag End at Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
Stepping inside the iconic Bag End from where both Bilbo and Frodo started their adventures definitely felt exciting (Image © Miles with Vibes)

What’s the best time to visit Hobbiton?

You can visit Hobbiton Movie Set all year round but, In my opinion, spring is the best season. The hobbit village is full of colourful plants and blossoming flowers tidied up in flawless gardens and grassy paths.

What you really need to think about is the weather since you’ll be outside for the biggest part of the tour. Be ready for extreme sun during summer, cold in winter and rain, at any time of the year. Tours start no matter the weather conditions, so be prepared!

Check the official website for weather info – scroll down, and you’ll find the weather section before the website’s footer.

The paths are gravel, with several ups and downs so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

In terms of photographs, I would pick the morning or later afternoon tours, as the lighting is better.

No matter the time you are visiting, always book ahead, especially during school or the summer holidays.

Is the Hobbiton tour worth the price?

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 what Tolkien described and imagined. As I strolled through Hobbiton with its lush green hills and quaint hobbit holes, I felt worlds away from reality.

the old mill and the lake at hobbiton
Image by Matteo Bergamo from Pixabay

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 just a hobby photographer you will definitely fall in love with the village. After visiting you won’t 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!

brown hobbit house
Photo by Shan Li Fang on Unsplash

What would I do different?

I would surely book the evening banquet. Not only the movie set is less crowded during the evening but you can also take shots of Hobbiton during sunset. Not to mention, the dinner inside the Green Dragon Inn!

Who wouldn’t want to live like a hobbit?

Comfort, an easygoing lifestyle, numerous parties, pipe-weed and up to six meals per day. Ever since I became a Tolkien fan, I could easily picture myself living happily in that quaint village called Hobbiton.

The moment I stepped in Hobbiton I understood why people cross the world to visit; it simply feels like home!
Blue Hobbit-Hole in Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand - Miles with Vibes
(Image © Miles with Vibes)

Know before you go

What are the Hobbiton Movie Set tour times?

Tours depart daily from 09:00 to 16:30. View more tour times here!

Do I need to book in advance?

Yes, order your tickets in advance and avoid any disappointments! Here are all the available ticket options!

What’s the evening tour like?

The evening dinner tour includes a guided tour through The Shire at dusk. As soon as the tour ends, you will be taken to the Green Dragon where you will be treated to a banquet feast. The night tour experience concludes with a walk back through the wandering paths of Hobbiton under the moonlight and your lanterns illuminating the way. View all the available tours here!

How long does the tour take?

The casual walking tour takes approximately 2 hours. There are several other experiences you can book to enjoy Hobbiton to its full potential. See all the tour options here!

What is the best time to visit Hobbiton?

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. More info about what’s the ideal time to visit Hobbiton here!

How much does it cost to visit Hobbiton?

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 best of your visit. See all the available options here!

Can I stay in Hobbiton?

Unfortunately not but don’t get disappointed! There are themed hobbit-house accommodation options nearby. View them all here!

Can I go inside the hobbit holes?

Not yet, as currently, Hobbiton consists only of facades. The only exceptions are the Green Dragon Inn, The Millhouse and an empty hobbit house! However, a new development will recreate a fully themed Hobbit Hole interior thus, allowing you to go inside.

Do I have time to take photos?

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!

How can I get to Hobbiton?

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!

What is Hobbiton?

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!

Films about Hobbiton

  • The Lord of the Rings (film trilogy) – follow Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship as they embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring and ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron
  • The Hobbit (film trilogy) – the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins and thirteen dwarves on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug

All images are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Planning to visit Hobbiton? Share your plans and leave your thoughts below!

5 thoughts

Goldberry 8th Apr 2020 - 09:11

Hope see me my friends there soon. Thank you for the update.

Jim 17th Feb 2020 - 04:12

Thanks for the write-up Nikos. It’s an amazing place, isn’t it? The attention to detail is off the charts. Cheers!

Nikos 17th Feb 2020 - 19:52

I second that! I finally had the chance to live within the fantasyland of my childhood dreams!

Grabamile 16th Feb 2020 - 20:15

Nice and detailed blog about your adventure. Great work! I specifically liked your inclusion of abstracts from the book.

Nikos 16th Feb 2020 - 23:40

Thank you so much for dropping by, I am glad you have enjoyed reading it! More LOTR film location travel stories are on the way!


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