Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves. Oh my!
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
I’m a huge Tolkien fan. Like huge! I managed to weave Tolkien into my school projects all through high school and read The Lord of the Rings at 9 years old (coming up on twenty years ago now!) I’m also a film fan. I loved the movies – both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I know, I know! I said I was a Tolkien fan right… I loved the movies as well. So sue me! Hahaha.
I have been to Hobbiton now three times. March 2014, the day before my 24th birthday, on a Lord of the Rings movie locations tour (I’ll do another post about them, I promise!), December 2014, after the premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; again organised by the tour company, and in April 2016 on a day trip from a cruise that stopped in Tauranga. Each time was slightly different, but each time was as magical as the last.
The drive through Buckland Road (if you’re a LotR fan you’ll know that Buckland is part of the Shire, so what a convenient place for it to be!) was long, but coming around to The Shire’s Rest was exciting. The small gift shop sells a variety of merchandise and clothing items, some exclusives to Hobbiton, others you can get online or at Weta Workshop. I bought a spray jacket, it has a hood!, and was well worth whatever I paid for it! Make sure to sign the guest book too! There’s a small restaurant/lunch bar there as well. It’s great for a little bite to eat.
All of the shuttle buses that drive you from The Shire’s Rest to Hobbiton proper are named after characters from the books. It adds a little touch some may not notice. The excitement builds as you drive, until you can see the Green Dragon and the mill. The Lake. You’re driven around to another car park where you disembark.
Entering the Hobbiton set through Gandalf’s Cutting is like being the wizard on his way to visit his “very old friend” for his birthday. It’s truly incredible as the cutting opens up to Hobbiton. There are no real words wot describe the awe I felt as I walked along the walkways, ‘visiting’ some of the Hobbit holes that are open for you to take photos at the door. All tours are guided and your guide will be very knowledgeable about the area and the history of the site. I’ve have three amazing tour guides that I couldn’t fault!
You’re moved along pretty quickly, to get the sheer volume of people through the site that are there, but you still get a good amount of time in each area. You can’t go into Bag End, but the door is generally open enough that you can see the inside of the hallway.
Back down the hill, past Sam and Rosie’s place, and out onto the Party Field. There’s a great view of the Green Dragon across the lake and back up the hill to Bag End. Take photos! There’s a bit of time here to soak it all in, play on the seesaw. It’s up to you!
The walk around to the bridge is through a bit of dense rainforest-y kind of environment. There’s lots of walkways over water (or no water depending on the time of year). Heading over the bridge is an experience in itself as you head towards the pub. Make sure you look at the hand-lettered signs on the noticeboard before you go over the bridge!
The Green Dragon is everything you could ever want from a realisation of the Hobbiton watering hole. The depth of detail in the whole place is next level, make sure you take a look at all the bits and pieces around the place! You get a mug of amber ale, traditional English ale, apple cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer upon arrival. It’s all brewed locally and is their own brand. The cider is great – I’ve heard the others are too but I haven’t tried them personally. If you’re on a private tour, you can have a meal in the marquee.
It’s an amazing day out, for Tolkien fans and non-fans alike.
Location: 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata, New Zealand.
How to get there: The easiest way is by transfer, to be honest. That way you can’t get lost! Transfers run from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. The Hobbiton Set Tours website has all of the details, along with driving maps if you’re wanting to set in for a road trip!
Prices: Tour prices differ depending on where your pick up point is. If your pick up is from The Shire’s Rest, or the iSite in Matamata (also done up like a Hobbit hole!) your tour will be NZ$89 for adults and NZ$42 for kids over 8. Kids under 8 are free with a full paying adult. From Rotorua, the prices are NZ$119 for adults, $77 for kids over 8 and $35 for kids under 8 (for the cost of the transfer only). Note, prices are going up on 1 April 2020.
Recommendations: Take photos! While it’s nice to get into the moment, the whole area screams to be captured on film. Try going though a tour company so you can get the meal in marquee. Do all the things, go up to all of the holes and even cosplay if that’s your thing! (One of the times I went with a group, all of us in cosplay. We were asked by members of the public for photos and all that… it was fun!)
Hobbiton Movie Set Tours – http://www.hobbitontours.com/en/