Day two in Auckland and I decided to take a tour of Hobbiton. A big fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy it was a must see on my tour of New Zealand. Hobbiton is located three hours south of Auckland in a town called Matamata. Through intercity the intercity bus tour (intercity.co.nz) it was an easy enough journey to see The Shire. The movie was filmed on the Alexander farm in Matamata and it is easy to see how the film scouts decided on the location. Rolling emerald green hills and pastures, seem to be everything Tolkien envisioned when he created The Shire.
The LOTR movie set was developed with 44 unique Hobbit homes nestled into the hills, and the set is preserved as it was when filming began Four full time gardeners, who actually grow produce in the Hobbiton garden, and a large staff are fully devoted to keeping Hobbiton the exact way as seen in the movies. As if the village were set in amber, each home has a theme as if it were a real village. There is the cheese maker, bread maker, woodcutter, fish keeper ect… and of course, the crowning jewel for all LOTR fans is Bag End set on the highest point on the hill overlooking the village. Being at Bag End I felt as if Frodo or Bilbo were around the corner and I could encounter them at any moment.
You cannot see Hobbiton without either being part of a tour. The tour guides are cheerful, extremely knowledgeable about the movie and the books and patiently take a range of questions. At the conclusion of the tour, you are granted a free pint at The Greendragon. The pub looks exactly as it did within the movie, and cheerful fires make it warm and welcoming. There is an even friendly cat nestled in an armchair by the fire.
Hobbiton is a unique place where your fantasies come alive; breathing in the air it seemed as I really was apart of Tolkien’s beloved world. Winding paths full of mystery, quaint sheep grazing in their pastures really lent a magical feel to the whole place. With my journey of self-discovery, I like Bilbo and his lust for adventure , an adventure that eventually lead on his quest in the The Hobbit.
Aside from farming, Matamata’s main source of revenue is through tourism. I was astounded to learn that that an average of 1500 people per day come through Hobbiton, with two-to-three thousand during the summer months. Visits this year alone are up 40% from last year. Since it is late September and New Zealand’s Spring time, there wasn’t as many tourists. If you plan to come during the summer, be prepared for large crowds. I personally enjoyed the fact I wander and not be surrounded by massive crowds, it made the experience a little bit more special to me.
How to get there: a variety of ways. Depending on your location, you can take a variety of tour buses. I personally am using Intercity Link to traverse all of NZ and it was easy for me to book transport from downtown Auckland to Matamata. There are also packaged tour/transport deals available. I found it easiest to use my Intercity Link pass to get me to Matamata where I was able to by tour tickets for $75USD. There is only one place to buy tour tickets in Matamata and it is at the iSite place right next to the bus stop (you can’t miss the blaring advertisement when you arrive in this tiny town). The tour includes pickup from Matamata and transportation to the entrance of the movie set and back into town, a free beer and a chipper guide.
The Town: Matamata is a charming town with plenty of tasty restaurants and cafes lining the streets. Accommodation is also available is you choose to spend more time than just the tour in Matamata. I love to use Booking.com – BR I find the best hotel/B&B deals on there.
My recommendation is that if you are a film buff or LOTR fan, this is one tour not to be missed! I usually hate all of the touristy things but this was special and kudos to the Hobbiton workers for making magic a reality (okay, fine, kudos FIRST to Peter Jackson :).
“Hobbit: You! Mr. Bilbo where’re you off to? Bilbo Baggins: I’m already late.
Hobbit: Late for what? Bilbo Baggins: I’m going on an adventure!”
-Until my next adventure- Jo