Monday, March 17, 2014

Hobbiton: An Expected Journey

Today Kendra Kelly, of the KMJtravels & BoozeHouse blogs, reports back from New Zealand where she and her husband Brian went on an extended tour of Hobbiton from Lord of the Rings (LOTR) - visiting both sites and sets featured in the movie. Here is her report, plus great photos:

"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ch. 4

As soon as we started planning our trip down under, we knew a visit to Hobbiton and other LOTR sites would be on the agenda – we’ve both devoured the movies and read the book as kids and it was amazing how many sites we saw even without planning to.  We spent one day on the Dart River in Mt. Aspiring National Park cruising past the Red Beech trees of Lothlorien & the hillocks that hosted Beorn's house.  Heading to a wine tour in Blenheim we crossed the Pelorous River which you may recognize from the most recent Hobbit movie (think Dwarves in barrels, elves on rocks):

In Wellington we stopped by the production offices at Weta Cave where we met the trolls (Tom, Bert & William) out front, then saw several props, sketches and memorabilia inside:

We even encountered a sand storm just after this picture was taken as we drove past Mt. Ruapehu AKA Mt. Doom:

But the biggest attraction of course is on the North Island in Matamata, home of Hobbiton. They’ve even built the visitor center here to look like a hobbit house and have fully embraced what they’ve got. 

The big tree by the lake below is what clinched the deal to use this area to represent The Shire– you may remember it as the area for Bilbo’s birthday party in the first LOTR movie.  Initially they had found several sites to use for sections of The Shire, but were missing the perfect spot for that pivotal scene.  While out in a helicopter one day scouting locations, they spotted this tree & lake, then decided to consolidate The Shire into one spot.  The farmer whose land they built this on really hit the jackpot – they have buses full of folks going every 30 minutes. My husband figured on a busy day that farmer is making about $200K/day – probably better than what he continues to make with sheep.

The tour starts with a drive through the sheep farm with views across to the Kaimai Ranges.  It is interesting to see first hand how this Waikato farmland was transformed into Middle-Earth.  It was a beautiful sunny day when we were there, my only complaint would be that you don’t get to wander on your own as it’s a very structured tour. 

There are lots of Hobbit Holes of varying size (note that the Hobbit Holes are exterior only and you cannot enter them, bummer!), the pond, the lake, Gandalf’s carriage/wagon, the double arch bridge and up at the top of the hill is Bilbo’s house (pictured below) – fun fact:  the tree atop Bilbo’s hobbit hole is a fake.  

The tour ends with a stop for a pint at the Green Dragon, the interior of which is an exact reproduction of that which featured in the LOTR films.

The only way to access Hobbiton is with a guided tour and though a little pricey, definitely worth a visit for any true fans.  For other LOTR-related tour options throughout NZ, check this link.  


  1. Now I totally want to go to New Zealand and see this for myself! Thanks for a great post, Kendra.

  2. This is so cool. NZ is on my bucket list and I would love to do this tour!

  3. New Zealand is amazing - I recommend it to everyone! But if the long airplane ride is too much, the Canadian Rockies are very similar and close subsitute - though there are no hobbits. Just lots of bears instead!