Destinations, Film Locations, Guides, New Zealand

A day in Hobbiton

11 Comments 14 March 2012

A day in Hobbiton

Driving through Matamata’s grassy hills and counting sheep, you would never believe a multi-million dollar motion pictute was filmed here, but that it was in 1999 and again in 2011. Hiding out in this farm town is Hobbiton, better known as “The Shire” from Lord of the Rings.

Yes, it actually exists and not in a movie studio.

Welcome to the Shire. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Doors are hobbit size and painted colorfully. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

During an aerial search of places to shoot the film around New Zealand, Peter Jackson spotted Alexander Farm and approached them about using the farm in his film. Imagine getting that knock on the door. The owners agreed and site construction began.

The road that Gandalf arrives on. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Enlisting the help of the New Zealand army and a massive film crew, an entire tiny village was brought to life complete with Green Dragon Bar, mill and of course Bag End.

To the pub. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Before the film’s release in 2001, the set was kept secret and extreme measures were taken for it not to be exposed. People behind the film went as far as taking away the licenses of any pilots trying to sneak a shot from the sky. However, after the film’s release, they couldn’t stop fans from making pilgrimages to Hobbiton.

While the set was meant to be completely destroyed, the farm owners approached the studio about keeping it intact for tours. They agreed and it came in handy as the set was used again last year for Lord of the Ring’s prequel, The Hobbit. Parts of the set were destroyed after the first Lord of the Rings, but tit’s been restored for The Hobbit.

Naturally homes of Hobbiton fishermen were placed right on the water and right under the Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The Party Tree. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Today Hobbiton runs seven tours daily to visitors from around the world. Starting across the street, people are taken by bus to the film set, which is hidden very well. One could be on the other side of a hill to Hobbiton and have no idea it was there.

Guides point out where makeup and wardrobe tents once were and talk about the farm on the way. Once on set, the tour goes on foot for a 90-minute guided walk around the village, which gives visitors plenty of time to take photos.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

On the tour, groups see several Hobbit houses, The Green Dragon and mill, the road Gandalf rides in on, The Party Tree, Sam’s home and Bag End, which is at the top of a hill, complete with an oak tree growing above it. Our guide was very friendly and great at pointing out which places were featured at what point in the film.

Visitors can look at The Green Dragon and Mill, but only from across the water. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This humble home is Sam’s house. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Overlooking the Shire is the Baggins’ residence. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I liked most was learning about all the thought that went into create the film set. Everything from making moss using yoghurt and other products then throwing is on random spots to make the town look older to shipping in an oak tree to go on top of Bag End. It was really amazing to see all the detail to the film set and hear how much work went into perfecting it.

Unfortunately, they did not create actual Hobbit homes here. Most of the homes are just a front, behind their doors, only dirt. Two homes that could be entered, but only as far as their doors would open, were Frodo Baggins’, though not by people on tour, and a random Hobbit home, which tour members could stand in and take photos.

Oh, hello. Photo by Richard John Hackey

The Hobbiton tour costs $66 and runs seven times daily. The last tour is at 5:20 p.m. People can purchase tickets online or at the farm’s front office. Located next to there is The Shires Rest, which serves breakfast and lunch items, including “Second Breakfast”. People can also feed and pet the farm’s sheep on their visit.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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- who has written 310 posts on Heels and Wheels.

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  • Amanda Williams

    I’ve been here twice, but both times were back before they started rebuilding/redecorating the set. It was very cool then, but it looks WAAAY cooler now!!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    I was looking at photos from then and now, they really put a lot of work into it since then. Just means you’ll have to go a third time!

  • Kieu – GQ trippin

    LOVE that you wrote and posted pictures about Hobbiton! Lol. I was amazed at the detail and money it went into making the Trilogy and now can’t wait for the Hobbit to come out later this year. Great shots!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Thanks Kieu. Me too. It’s so amazing seeing how much went into it. I almost wish all the sets were left up around New Zealand.

  • Diana Edelman

    I would totally go and do this! Although it seems a bit pricey, it’s so whimsical and gorgeous!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    It is overpriced for the tour that it is, but I didn’t mind paying to see it. It was amazing!

  • Heather

    This is one of the first things I’m doing when I (eventually) get to NZ :-)

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    You definitely should visit. It was a great tour! You’ll get here soon I’m sure :)

  • Gerard ~ GQtrippin

    Wow you got balls! You’re not the least bit worried about that waiver you signed before you did the tour? 😉

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    No balls! They didn’t make us sign a waiver. I think it’s been lifted now that they are finished filming there. I’ve been twice and haven’t had to sign a thing either time.

  • Gerard ~ GQtrippin

    Serious? Yaay! I’m going to write one then! hehe

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