Transport yourself into the magical world of Middle-earth, where magnificent hobbit holes dot the rolling hills of the Shire. Yes, we’re talking about the legendary Hobbiton Movie Set, brought to life straight from J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination and immortalized in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film trilogies.
But the question on every aspiring adventurer’s mind remains: is the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour truly worth it? Should you embark on this enchanting journey? Join us as we delve into the heart of this fantastical experience, uncovering the secrets hidden within its gates and answer all of your questions. Is it worth visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set?
This review is solely based on our personal experience visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set and reflects our own genuine opinions and impressions. We aim to provide an unbiased and honest account of our time at this destination, sharing both the positive aspects and any possible shortcomings we encountered. Keep in mind that individual experiences may vary, and we encourage readers to form their own judgments based on multiple sources of information.
About the Hobbiton Movie Set
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Matamata, New Zealand, the Hobbiton Movie Set, transports visitors into the sprawling universe of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. With its association with the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film trilogies, the Hobbiton Movie Set has become an iconic pilgrimage site for fans of these epic fantasy tales.
Originally constructed in 1999 for filming “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, the movie set served as the idyllic village of Hobbiton. From Bilbo Baggins’ cosy Bag End to the vibrant party tree and quaint hobbit holes dotting the hillsides, every meticulous detail of the Shire was brought to life here on this set. It’s truly a place where the real and fictional worlds collide!
Following the massive success of “The Lord of the Rings” films, the Hobbiton Movie Set underwent preservation and expansion to accommodate the filming of “The Hobbit” trilogy. This massive undertaking solidified Hobbiton as an everlasting symbol of Middle-earth on screen, further elevating its allure and attracting visitors from all corners of the globe.
Today, the significance of the Hobbiton Movie Set extends beyond its role as a film location. Its popularity among tourists is unparalleled. Hobbiton consistently tops the lists of must-see attractions in New Zealand, wowing visitors with its stunning craftsmanship and the opportunity to traverse the hallowed ground where Tolkien’s beloved characters once roamed.
How to Book Tickets and Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set
It’s essential that you know that making a booking prior to your visit is essential. It’s not possible to visit the movie set without a booking. Booking slots go fast, so please book your preferred tour, day, and time at the earliest.
There are a couple of different experiences that you can choose from for your visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. These are perfect if you’ve rented your own car and are comfortable driving to Matamata.
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: A fully guided walked tour around the 12 acre set that ends at the famous Green Dragon Inn.
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tour + Lunch Combo: A Hobbiton Movie Set Tour followed by a buffet lunch served inside the festive Party Marquee.
- Evening Banquet Tour: A fully guided walked tour at dusk with a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit served inside The Green Dragon Inn.
- Second Breakfast Tour: Be the first on the set and enjoy a breakfast spread served inside the Millhouse.
- Private Tour: And finally, it is also possible to book your own private tour.
FYI, each tour group averages 40 individuals and ticket prices for each tour type may change without prior notice. It’s always advisable to check on the official Hobbiton website.
Coming from Auckland?
Most individuals visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from Auckland. So, if you prefer a fully guided tour, with pick up and drop off all the way from Auckland, you can book it online with one of the tour operators.
It’s also worth noting that most visitors from Auckland combine the movie set tour with the glow-worms cave tour in neighbouring Waitomo. A few tour companies offer a Hobbiton Movie Set + Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour combo, which is pretty awesome.
Again, however you choose to book, make sure that you do it well in advance.
Our Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Experience
We opted for the guided “Hobbiton Movie Set Tour”, which is a 2.5 hour tour including transport between The Shire’s Rest and the Movie Set. We purposely picked an early 9:20 AM a slot to ensure a smaller tour group (about 20 people instead of the usual 40).
To begin our tour, we arrived promptly at The Shire’s Rest Cafe by 9 AM. After parking our car, we checked ourselves in and eagerly awaited our bus, which transported us to the movie set located just a few minutes away.
Stepping into the movie set, an enchanting atmosphere embraced us, bringing smiles to all our faces! We started from the lower part of the village, exploring each unique hobbit house and diving into the rich history behind the set. Thanks to the smaller group size, we had ample opportunities to snap countless photos without significant waiting times.
Our guide exuded enthusiasm as they breathed life into iconic movie scenes and locations while leading us up the hill toward the legendary Bag End. Although entering Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ home wasn’t possible, we marvelled at its exterior and soaked in intriguing insights about the production process and fascinating facts about the movie set.
Continuing our journey, we descended to the Party Field and Party Tree, immersing ourselves in the very spot where the memorable celebration scene was filmed. Finally, we strolled by The Water, a picturesque lake, and across a quaint bridge next to The Watermill, ultimately reaching our last stop: The Green Dragon Inn.
The Green Dragon Inn, the beloved pub for all Hobbiton residents, offered us a delightful ending to our tour. We were treated to a complimentary drink, which allowed us to savour the delightful ambiance before bidding farewell to this magical location and experience.
After that, we boarded our bus, which brought us back to The Shire’s Rest Cafe, where there is a memorabilia shop, café, and toilets.
Overall, I really enjoyed the tour. Coming early to join a smaller tour group felt more personal and relaxed. However, after reading other reviews online, I don’t think the same can be said for tour groups later in the day or at peak hours. At no point did we feel we were being rushed because the group behind us was catching up. We felt that there was sufficient time to enjoy the set and take photos to remember our experience.
And if pictures aren’t enough, here is a quick video tour of the movie set.
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The Attention to Detail
One of my favourite aspects of the Hobbiton Movie Set was the impeccable attention to detail. It was truly mesmerizing to see how even the tiniest elements were brought to life.
For instance, the set exuded a sense of life. Chimneys emitted wisps of smoke, creating the illusion that the homes were occupied. It was delightful to discover tiny Hobbit-sized clothes hanging on clotheslines, adding to the authentic atmosphere.
What impressed me further was the level of detail tied to each hobbit’s profession. If a particular hobbit was a baker, there would be (albeit fake) loaves of bread available for sale right outside their tiny houses.
Similarly, if the hobbit dwelling was owned by a beekeeper, a range of honey jars (props of course) were beautifully displayed for visitors to pretend-purchase. This level of commitment to the fictional world truly made the experience extraordinary.
The Natural Beauty
While searching for the perfect location to construct the Hobbiton Movie Set, the location scouts had a clear vision in mind: to transform J.R.R. Tolkien’s world into a tangible reality.
When they first laid eyes on the Alexander family sheep farm from the sky, they were captivated by the stunning, gentle undulations of its hills. The natural beauty exuded by the farm was so remarkable that one might mistake the landscape as an expertly crafted art piece. But the truth is, it is entirely natural and simply breathtaking!
Upon completing the tour, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to pause just beyond the confines of the movie set, still within the farm, to capture more of the awe-inspiring beauty that surrounded us. The landscape was nothing short of magnificent, making it impossible to resist preserving its memory through photographs (check out our Hobbiton photo gallery to see more photos).
Curated Tours Prevent Crowd Build-up
The Hobbiton Movie Set ranks among the most popular attractions in New Zealand. Considering its immense popularity, one might envision a chaotic and overcrowded environment if tours were not carefully organized.
Thankfully, the management ensures that the magical ambiance of Hobbiton remains intact by implementing a crowd control system. By strictly limiting the number of individuals in each tour group and carefully staggering the timing of the tours, the set’s charm is preserved, and the risk of being overrun by throngs of tourists is minimized.
This thoughtful approach allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Hobbiton without feeling overwhelmed by large crowds.
During our visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, we were fortunate (or unfortunate) to be there during a period of ongoing construction work. As a special gesture, each visitor was gifted a unique Green Dragon Inn mug as a souvenir.
These mugs hold special significance as they are meticulously handmade and hand-painted, ensuring that each one is one-of-a-kind. The attention to detail and craftsmanship truly make these mugs exceptional keepsakes from our memorable adventure in Hobbiton.
Being a Part of The Magic
Reading about Hobbiton and its history is one thing, but experiencing the magic for yourself is a whole other thing!
Being a fan of the movies, I was captivated by our guide’s fascinating facts and stories, which felt like scenes unfolding right before my eyes. Standing at this iconic landmark was an incredible feeling.
At this point, I feel that I might be nitpicking sure the entire experience of visiting the set was so well curated.
- However, it is not possible to drive to or even visit the Hobbiton Movie Set on your own. You can only visit it as part of a tour group.
- I also wished that there were more Hobbit Holes that we could enter. But of course, most of them are simply facades.
- I would also love to see photos of iconic scenes from the “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies at locations in the set.
- In order for us to beat the crowds, we had to pick an earlier slot. And as we were coming from Tauranga (Mount Maunganui), it meant getting up super early to drive all the way to Matamata. It’s an even longer drive from Auckland (2 hours).
Should you visit the Hobbiton Movie Set?
If you’re a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, then the obvious answer is “yes, absolutely you should visit it!”.
But even if you’re not a fan, or haven’t seen the movies (like my wife…yes, really), then I guess it depends.
Speaking from my wife’s experience, she had no idea about the movies or any of the references I was making during the trip. But she still found the tour of the set to be magical. Like me, she too loved the attention to detail, the naturally beautiful landscapes, and found some factoids from the movie intriguing (like the use of forced perspective and how they hired “short” actors from the local town for the party scene). The tour certainly piqued her interest in the trilogies.
But if you have no interest in the landscape or the trilogies, then maybe this isn’t for you.
Is it worth it?
Again, for me, it was totally worth it! Ticket price aside, the whole experience was unique and wonderful for someone who is not only fascinated by the movies but also by nature. Feel free to visit our Hobbiton photo gallery that showcases more photos from our trip.
My wife also felt that it was an incredible experience visiting an iconic movie set of some of the most popular movies of our time!
After our tour ended, and we said goodbye to The Shire and drove to Matamata town to grab a bite before continuing on our epic road trip to Rotorua. And after Rotorua, we visited Gollum’s Pool in Tongariro National Park. Gollum’s Pool, also known as Tawhai Falls, is where the scene with the Forbidden Pool in which Faramir and his archers are watching Gollum fish in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”.