Hobbiton, though born in imagination, is a very real place. The home of Bilbo Baggins and the other Hobbits from the Lord of the Rings started out in a story from British author J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit, a kid-friendly book, introduced Middle Earth and its inhabitants. The Lord of the Rings saga followed, diving even deeper into the story. In 1999, Peter Jackson was looking for a place that would become Hobbiton for his movies, he chose a farm on the North Island of New Zealand.

With three beloved Lord of the Rings movies and three Hobbit films, the movie set needed to be sturdier than a typical set. Now that filming has wrapped up with all six movies, the sets remain and are open for tours. Fans of the movie who make the trek to New Zealand will feel like they’re in heaven once they arrive at Hobbiton. It’s so much more than a movie set; it’s the closest you’ll get to Middle Earth.

Rotorua & Tauranga

Rotorua & Tauranga
Rotorua & Tauranga  Image: Ben Crawford

The world of Hobbits isn’t actually located in Middle Earth. It’s found in Matamata, New Zealand, on the North Island. The bayside city of Tauranga is 45 minutes to the east. A popular destination for cruise ships, the town has a long list of things to do both on land and on the water.

Also in the Bay of Plenty region and 45 minutes away, Rotorua is another place visited by Hobbit fans. Here, you’ll have the chance to connect with Maori culture, go mountain biking, or try fishing. The city is also known for its hot springs and spas where you can relax and talk about your adventures in Hobbiton.

Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings  Image: Arbron (flickr)

Before the first Lord of the Rings movie found gold at the box office, it was considered a risk to bring the book to life. Filming in New Zealand was a risk as well, but Jackson, a Kiwi himself, knew that amazing landscapes would translate well to the screen. After the billions of dollars at the box office and all the awards, it’s clear that Jackson was spot on. Jackson’s Wingnut Films Productions Limited joined forces with Rings Scenic Tours to ensure that Lord of the Rings fans can see the sets up close. Their venture, known as Shire Tours, preserves and shares the movie set at the original location of Alexander Farm in Matamata. Before they started filming the Hobbit, some 200,000 people had come to see Hobbition up close. The sets were closed when the trio of Hobbit movies was being filmed, so there was a lot of pent up interest and demand to visit the sets. Tours are once again being offered of the movie sets, one of the most unique things to do in all of New Zealand.

Hobbiton Movie Set Farm Stay

Hobbiton Movie Set Farm Stay
Hobbiton Movie Set Farm Stay

Everyone who visits Hobbiton has the chance to see the world of the Hobbits brought to life on the sheep farm. Tours, which are suitable for kids as well as adults, are guided by an expert who dishes on the movie and how the sets were created. The Green Dragon, the meeting place for the Hobbits, is now open for the visitors, who are welcomed with complimentary refreshments. The inn also serves full meals, as does the Shires Rest Cafe. A number of vacation packages are available for those who would like to stay the night. Several farms around Matamata welcome guests, a nice alternative to staying in hotels or resorts. Many of the packages also include meals and farm/movie set tours.

Top image: Ian Brodie
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