Matamata, with its rolling hills, luscious green pastures and dairy farming industry, is more than just a laidback region in the New Zealand’s North Island. Once you get there, you will be treated to a magnificent yet isolated countryside scenery, which is seemingly ripped off from the pages of a fairytale classic. Perhaps, this is the very reason why a family farm beside the town was chosen to become the setting for the film adaptation of J.R. Tolkien’s masterpieces – the “Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” series. With one look, Peter Jackson and the producers of the film probably thought that if hobbits (little people) were real, they would be living their “Middle Earth” days here. And so the Alexander Farm, just outside of Matamata town proper, was transformed into the movie world’s Hobbiton or the Shire – a beautiful spot full of happy and friendly creatures, who have the tendency to go off into dangerous adventures.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Hobbit to enjoy Matamata’s fictional Hobbiton. Once you find yourself in Matamata town, you can easily book a tour offered by the farmland owners. After all, the Shire has now become the town’s main tourist draw. After filming, most of the movie set remained on site, welcoming those who wish to relive their love for the epic story, which immortalize the names Frodo, the hobbit and Gandalf, the wizard. And people from all over the world love to visit one of the most famous movie sets of all time.
The guided tour around Hobbiton allows you to explore the fascinating structures brought to life from J.R. Tolkien’s imagination. Some of the notable landmarks include the hobbit holes, the double arched bridge, the Mill and the Bag End – the home of the courageous hobbit character Bilbo Baggins.
For many tourists who come to Hobbiton, one of the highlights of the tour is the Party Tree (big pine tree), which is situated in front of the lake with picturesque green hills that serve as its backdrop. The Green Dragon Inn is a special stop of the tour, where you can relax and enjoy your complimentary refreshment. The inn’s interior impresses visitors with its intricate design and premium craftsmanship. The moment you step into Green Dragon, you know that every corner and object in it are designed with careful consideration to how it was described in the book.
During the tour, the guide will eagerly tell you interesting stories and the inside scoop about the discovery of the set and filming stage, which is really delightful especially if you’re a fan of the book and movie series. Some of the information that will be shared includes the exact spots that some movie scenes were shot, as well as the costs, ingenuity and manpower put into creating a realistic hobbit town.
The simple scenic town of Matamata specifically lies at the base of the Kaimai Ranges in the Waikato Region New Zealand. From Auckland, it is only a two-hour drive south. It is the perfect weekend getaway for the city dwellers of the New Zealand’s capital city, who want to have a break from high rises, busy streets and the complexities of modern living.
The Hobbiton Movie Set tour usually lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes and the 75 NZD tour free includes a free drink. Tour participants gather at the Matamata Information Office and the Shire’s Rest Café situated on Backland Road. Tours leave for the Hobbiton from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
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