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Paying a visit to the home of the Baggins - a famous film set bought to life

Back in the early 1990s the famous New Zealand film director Peter Jackson, now Sir Peter Jackson, was looking for locations across his motherland for his upcoming trilogy of films, The Lord of the Rings. One important location was Hobbiton, the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. So after scouring the countryside of North Island, they settled on a sheep farm just outside Matamata. During the film making the actors were sworn to secrecy and it was not until after the first film was released was the location of Hobbiton was announced. After the Lord of the Rings movies were made they sadly started to dismantle the Hobbit houses in Hobbiton, so all that was left we holes in the ground.

Luckily for us back in 2010, Sir Peter Jackson was able to announce he was going to make a feature film version of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. So Hobbiton has been reconstructed and added to in preparation for the filming, it is now in pristine condition. Filming was due to start of March 1, 2011 –the day of our arrival, which we didn’t know at the time of arriving in Matamata. But luckily for us, but not for Sir Peter, filming had been delayed as Sir Peter had suffered a perforated ulcer.

We love the Lord of the Rings books and films, not enough to want to do the full tour of the filming sites, most of which are just locations in fields, but a trip to the Hobbiton film set was a must. A bus took us from the centre of Matamata out to the film set. We had to sign a form to say that any photographs we took would not be published on Facebook or YouTube as the film set is “shrouded” in secrecy –but not enough to stop the throngs of tourists visiting. The trip took us 15 minutes and we got very excited as the Hobbit burrows came into sight, we all bounced off the bus with expectation. As our guide welcomed us, she also told us that quite often visitors turned up in “character” dressed as Hobbits or Elves. Apparently, one large German gentleman, dressed as a Hobbit, claimed on arrival at Hobbiton that he was finally home. After his tour, he refused to leave and it took security several hours to be persuaded to leave –as he took his departure he said like Frodo he was now taking his great journey. Strange! Sadly no one on our tour was dressed for Middle Earth. Our 90-minute tour was everything we expected and more. We had suspected that in the Lord of the Rings films Hobbiton was largely CGI but we are glad to report much of it was real. There are some tens of Hobbit burrows including Bag End. You can walk around the streets, look into the gardens and walk through many areas where scenes we shot for the film –for lovers of these films, which include us, this was a magical opportunity and to think but for Sir Peter’s ulcer, we would not have been there.

Today, the Hobbiton film set is no longer being used for movie production but has become a tourist attraction.

A hobbit house on the Hobbiton film set
The East Farthing sign
Not so many Hobbits around but plenty of people
An artistic shot of a Hobbit burrow
The green dragon
I would like to live in one of these - perhaps!
Are you lost?
View across the lake to the Green Dragon

About Hobbiton Movie Set Tours

Address:The Shire’s Rest, 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata.
Website:https://www.hobbitontours.com/
Telephone:T: +64 7 888 1505
Hours:
Tours depart at least five times daily from 9.30am. Tours lasr around 2 hours.
Fees

Adults $63 USD ($89 NZ), Youths (9-16) $31 USD ($44 NZ), Children (0-8) Free

Getting to Hobbiton Movie Set

From Auckland (170km /106 miles)

  • Pretty much take State Highway 1 all the way. 168km (105miles)
  • Around 2 hours travel time.

From Hamilton:

  • Follow State Hwy 1 to Karapiro Rd in Karapiro. 24 min (30.1 km/19 miles)
  • Take Buckland Rd to your destination in Matamata

From Wellington (493 km /305 miles)

  • Follow State Hwy 1 to State Hwy 41 in Tūrangi. 320 km / 200 miles

  • Follow State Hwy 41, State Hwy 32 and Old Taupo Rd to State Hwy 1 in Piarere. 155 km / 96 miles
  • Follow State Hwy 29 and Buckland Rd to your destination in Matamata. 16 km / 10 miles

Best time to visit New Zealand

In short, the best time to visit New Zealand depends on what you want to get out of the trip.

  • Spring is the best time to visit New Zealand if you are looking for mild temperatures (great for hiking!) and fewer crowds. (September, October, November)

  • Summer is the best time to travel if you’re looking for warm temperatures, long hours of daylight, and days spent at the beach. (December, January, February)

  • Autumn is the best time to visit New Zealand if you want to avoid major crowds while still having enough daylight and comfortable temps to enjoy an array of outdoor activities. (March, April, May)

  • Winter is the best time to travel to New Zealand if you are on a tight budget, as this season brings the most discounted rates and the fewest crowds of the year. However, you must also be okay with colder temps, shorter hours of daylight, and some activities being shut down for the season. (June, July, August)

Where to stay near Hobbiton

1. BUCKLAND BNB

Located in Matamata, this apartment is 1.6 mi from Hobbiton. Guests benefit from a patio. Free private parking is available on site. There is a seating area, a dining area and a kitchenette. A flat-screen TV with cable channels is provided. Buckland BnB features free WiFi throughout the property. Mount Maunganui is 31 mi from Buckland BnB, while Tauranga is 29 mi away. The nearest airport is Hamilton International Airport, 21 mi from Buckland BnB.

2. THE HOUSE WITH NO NAILS

A labour of love created our spectacular and unique accommodation option in heartland New Zealand. The magnificent yet cozy house was handcrafted by Dewi using construction methods dating back to the 10th century. And there were indeed no nails used in the magnificent timber framing, with the network of beams, rafters and braces interlocked and secured by wooden pegs. This remains exposed for our guests to marvel at and mull over.

3. VILLA WALTON

This historic hotel in downtown Stroudsberg originally opened its doors in 1833. In 2020 the hotel was purchased by new owners who spent millions of dollars to bring the hotel into the modern era.

The downtown location in Stroudsberg means you can take advantage of the local dining, shopping and entertainment.

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