A Day In The Shire – A Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Review
September 2, 2016|Posted in: New Zealand
Ever since my Dad handed me the Lord of the Rings Trilogy book set, way back when I was only about 11 – I was hooked. I remember reading the whole of the Fellowship of the Ring in one week whilst we were on holiday, just so I could have a head start for when the movie came out later that year. It was the one book that really hooked me. From the highly descriptive scenes, to amazing characters, I don’t think I have found a book I was really transformed into it’s world as I have Lord of the Rings.
And those of you that know me, and have sat through me being able to re-quote the movie pretty much word for word, will know that my ultimate bucketlist item for New Zealand, was of course the Hobbiton Movie Set. So what better way to spend my 26th birthday in May this year, than to take a trip to Matamata and become a Hobbit for the day!
When Peter Jackson decided to start filming the movies, he decided to use his homeland of New Zealand as the setting. He spotted Alexander Farm during an aerial search of the North Island. He immediately chose the location as Hobbiton, the central village of the movies’ Hobbit civilisation and once you arrive in the town of Matamata you can instantly see why. The rolling green hills of the village really resonate with the image of Hobbiton I’ve always had in my head.
You start your tour walking though a winding stone path, with which Hobbit movie enthusiasts will recall as the path that Bilbo runs out of Bag End declaring he’s “going on an adventure!”
In front of you is the vegetable patch, complete with real veggies, scarecrow and fences. And both to your left and right you get your first glimpse of the Hobbit holes, so beautifully crafted into the surroundings as if there really were Hobbits residing in them.
As you venture further up the path, you get a glimpse of the life as a Hobbit. From clothes hanging on the washing line, to small rocking chairs situated outside the doors, there was nothing to suggest that this wasn’t real.
Everything you see sends you back to the books or film. Every little detail just enables you to re-imagine every scene and you are just in awe of the details.
They rotate the open doors so that wear and tear is minimised. But as you step forward for that all important photo opportunity in the doorway of a Hobbit-hole you realise how much you’d want them to actually be a real house inside! Unfortunately, the inside sets were filmed in Wellington, but it still doesn’t take away from the experience.
Once you’ve posed for your pictures and taken a small wander, you come upon the main attraction: Bag End. The first thing you notice is the large Oak Tree that looks over Bag End. As you approach the Hobbit hole, the ‘No Admittance Exception Party Business‘ sign appears. You cant go into Bag End, but just standing where they filmed such great scenes in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit was such a great experience.
Turning around, you take in the beautiful views of rolling greens hills, and everything that makes the Shire, the Shire. In the distance a small pond backs the famous Party Tree as well as the all important watering hole for Hobbits: The Green Dragon.
We eventually made our way past Samwise Gamgee’s house and the Party Tree. We crossed the small stone bridge and into the Green Dragon for a complimentary beverage. I highly recommend the ginger ale!
The pub itself is large, and in winter there is a large open fire that roars. They serve snacks and meals for those that get peckish from the excitement.
Unfortunately, you have to have a guided tour around the set. You cant just wander around on your own. The guides are great, but it does feel a little rushed at some points. Although, I could have stood outside Bag End for forever and a day.
I also advise you book in advance. In the Summer months, it can be very busy. Tours depart from The Shire’s Rest, as well as from Rotorua.
Including transport to and from the movie set from the Shires Rest, the price of the tour is:
Adult (17+) NZ$79.00
Youth (9-16yrs) NZ$39.50
Child (0-8yrs) Free with full paying adult
The overall tour lasts around 2 hours, and the information the guides give you about the construction of the set and more I feel makes this price worth it. Plus, you get a free drink!
I really believe this is one of the top things to do in New Zealand, and I’m not just saying that from a Lord of the Rings fan.
I’d also recommend taking some cash for souvenirs. I did have to talk myself out of buying the One Ring…
So there you have it, my Hobbiton Movie Set tour review! I really hope it inspires you to put this amazing place on you New Zealand bucketlist. Have you been, what were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!