On our first visit to New Zealand we were staying about 40 minutes from Matamata where Hobbiton Movie Set found a permanent home. The tour is $75 per adult ticket but worth it in my opinion. We have been twice now after taking Andrew’s parents and our girls. The pictures are a mix of both our visits.
Once you arrive at the admissions area, a bus shuttles tourist over to the set located smack in the middle of a sheep farm. Originally for the Lord of the Rings movies the set had to be constructed with temporary and removable pieces. The success of the movies prompted building with sustainable materials for the Hobbit series. Interesting note from tour… the sheep on the farm are not the actual sheep from the movie. Peter Jackson had sheep flown in from United Kingdom because the family’s sheep looked too clean and from the wrong time period. The family farm had to keep all their own sheep out of the filming. Evidently a few sought to be movie stars.
The designated tour guide leads you up the hill and through the set. The experience takes around two hours and they were running tours every half hour. We spent most of our time taking pictures in front of the hobbit holes and props. The tour guides are informative so my suggestion would be to stay near the front to hear all the best insights into Peter Jackson’s thought process. For example, how the frogs were relocated from the pond to elsewhere on the property due to noise. And another fun tidbit had to do with the trees. They had to be exactly as described in the book so the apple and pear trees were stripped and fake plums to match the book perfectly.
Most of the hobbit holes are sealed shut but make for colorful backdrops in all your photos. They have a particular hobbit hole set aside for a photo in the open door. There is nothing to look at inside anyway since these scenes were all filmed on a sound stage in Wellington.
One of the highlights for avid Hobbit fans is the Baggins’ Hole at the tip-top of the hill. The area is roped off but you can get a close enough for a picture. The door open despite not having anything inside.
The top of the hill offers a stunning view of the full set. The large tree shown was the reason that this particular farm had been chosen. Peter Jackson was doing site scouting by helicopter when he spotted the “party tree” located next to a pond. The Alexander family were contacted and agreed to filming at their farm.
As you make your way down the hill, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ hole and the fake tree above it. Yes, the tree is fake! They had it constructed and sewed 200,000 fake leaves to the tree.
We followed along the trail taking more hobbit hole photos until we reached the Party Field. Here the girls enjoyed playing on the grass.
The day of our second trip was clear and bright. I hung back from the tour guide taking my time capturing all the set details.
The tour loops around beside watermill and over the stone bridge.
Finally, you end up at The Green Dragon for a beer or cider included with the tour. Both times we visited the Green Dragon had multiple tours around so made it more difficult to capture pictures without people everywhere. I did get a few though!
The tour is pretty much over after leaving the Green Dragon but we did walk through the vegetable garden with real fruits and vegetables growing.
The last view before heading to the bus is my favorite with the hobbit holes reflecting in the water.
I highly recommend this tour for those visiting the Waikato even if you are not a huge fan of movies. The set is truly remarkable in capturing all the details from the books. Peter Jackson is a perfectionist and it paid off with the success of the movies.