I’ve just come back from what was pretty much my dream holiday. After all the health issues and the whole trip getting postponed last year we were finally able to visit New Zealand! Now a fairly major reason I was so keen to visit was due to the Lord of the Rings having been filmed there, so naturally the chance to visit the Hobbiton film location was high on my wish list! I’ll be writing about all the Tolkien related things we visited on the North island in later blogs.
We’re Going on an Adventure!
The Hobbiton site is situated near Matamata, on the north island of New Zealand. Matamata itself has a lot of background in horse racing and was a cute town to stay in for a couple of nights. For anyone who doesn’t know, Hobbiton is a village in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings where the peace loving, small hobbit folk live.
You have to book your Hobbiton tour in advance and there are a couple of options. The standard tour is 75NZD and the evening banquet one is 195NZD. There’s also a lunch and tour option for 120NZD. Since we were visiting on my birthday, we did the Evening Banquet tour!
When you first arrive at Hobbiton, you’re greeted by the Shire’s Rest visitor center which includes a gift shop and cafe. The coaches to the film set go every half hour up until the final evening one at 5:45.
We got there nice and early so I could have a good look in the gift shop and stock up on geeky goodies (I definitely needed that Gandalf’s Pipe replica). As an intense geek, I had also packed my Ranger Costume from LotR to wear round the site. How could I miss such a cosplay photo op?!
The coach takes about ten minutes to travel the the movie set, during which time our tour guides told us about the farm used to the set and various trivia. I cried a bit when we got to the set and first saw Hobbiton because i’m a massive nerd!
Welcome to Hobbiton
The first thing which hits you is just how big the set is. Hobbiton is 12 acres of themed land and you’re about to be taken round multiple Hobbit Holes, beautiful scenery and the Green Dragon pub. It’s hard to explain just how much it feels like you’ve walked into the films too! It’s all impeccably kept and a real treat to walk through.
As you’re taken around, you’ll recognise where Bilbo runs out the shire, where Gandalf rides in and of course see Bag End, where Bilbo and Frodo lived. Truly, the whole time I half expected to see a Hobbit come out the door!
The whole time you’re walking round, the crew are telling you fun stories about the making and filming and pointing out cool things to notice. One of the great things about being the evening tour was that there’s no one behind you in photos. It’s extra immersive to be able to look back down at the Hobbition village, empty of tourists.
A Feast for Hobbits
Once you’ve reached The Green Dragon (which looked amazing), you’re all given a drink of your choice and invited to sit a moment whilst the Banquet room is prepared. It was amazing to actually sit inside the pub i’d seen so many times on film.
Since it was my birthday, I got to open the curtains to the banquet room. Inside was a huge cozy room with log fires and long tables heaped with rich, english countryside food. It looked straight out of the films and tasted delicious! I have to say I felt a little uncomfortable at how much food clearly went to waste, but it was a wonderfully themed, indulgent experience.
After the meal, everyone is given a lantern and led back through Hobbiton in the dusk. I didn’t manage this bit, since I unfortunately had a seizure after the meal so had a trip back in a golf buggy holding a lantern through the village! The evening tour is incredible but it does go on a little too long in my opinion.
Would I Recommend?
By this point, no one will be shocked to learn that I had a wonderful experience at Hobbiton. As such a massive fan of the books and films I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but it was truly magical!
I think the experience may be a bit lost on those who aren’t mega fans of the series, as it isn’t massively interactive and is essentially a walk through a fictional village. That said, the detail, beauty and magic is high at Hobbiton and for anyone into costumery or film making, it’s also well worth a visit.
I think it’s worth noting that the tour isn’t very disability friendly, with the walking track not being suitable for wheelchairs and there being a lot of slopes and hills. The staff are very accommodating however, and will do their best to make things work.
For me, as a massive Tolkien fan and cosplayer it was everything i’d hoped and I had the best birthday possible. Walking into Hobbiton was truly like stepping into my favourite films and was an experience I will never forget.
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