Hobbiton Movie Set (501 Buckland Road, Matamata)
Pretty much in the middle of nowhere (but somewhere in the region of Waikato) lies the Alexander family sheep farm, a farm that was spotted by Sir Peter Jackson and crew as they scoured the New Zealand country-side hunting for an ideal filming location. Well, here they found gold. Home to The Shire, the place where the hobbits live for those less informed, featured in both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies.
Bookings are absolutely essential; tours can book out days and even weeks in advance. A standard ticket costs $79, and there are a bunch of meeting spots available. We opted to meet at the Matamata iSite, but you meet at Shire’s Rest if you preferred. The iSite was cool because we all got onto the bus and they played videos about the film location as we headed out there. It was very well organised; from the iSite we drove to Shire’s Rest, picked up any extras as well as our guide and then we continued onto the lush pastures which formed The Shire.
The guides are incredibly informative; full of interesting facts and movie secrets and they are happy to field whatever questions their wealth of knowledge will answer. The set essentially spans 12 acres, and you walk through loads of Hobbit Holes, the Mill and you also get to visit the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary beer at the end.
It was genuinely one of the best guided tours I have ever done, and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to others. Even if you haven’t seen any of the movies, it is still such an amazing thing to learn about, and it will probably make you want to watch them. It is set up perfectly to accommodate the hoards of people that visit every day. Ironically, after the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, the sets were actually deconstructed and had to be remade when The Hobbit series was filmed. Thankfully for the fans, this time the decision was made to keep the set – and it was converted into the tourist attraction that runs today.
It is hard to believe that this incredibly scenery exists in our very own country. I consider visiting here an absolute must, even more so if you are a New Zealander. Stop putting it off, and book today – you won’t regret it!