No visit to New Zealand is complete without a trip to Middle Earth! The famous Hobbiton movie set is located about three hours south of Auckland, in a little town called Matamata, and despite being one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country, it is absolutely worth a visit!
The full walking tour takes you on a journey through the Shire, visiting 44 Hobbit Holes, passing lakes and the mill, walking over the double arched bridge, before stopping at the famous Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll receive a complementary beverage (your choice of beer, cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer) to enjoy before the end of your adventure!
There are so many beautiful photo opportunities throughout the tour, and you don’t even have to be a fan of the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogies to enjoy it! According to the guides, a third of visitors haven’t seen the films! Admittedly, I haven’t seen any of the Hobbit movies!
The tour guides are full of knowledge of the 12-acre set and will let you in on behind-the-scenes filming secrets, how the set is preserved and Sir Peter Jackson’s attention to detail.
One of the interesting things I learned was that the famous giant oak tree above Bag End is actually made of fibreglass and that each of the 376,000 artificial leaves were imported from Taiwan. When the colour of the leaves fade, they’re repainted one by one!
In the books, there is a reference to Hobbits sitting under plum trees. However, plum trees grow too big to be the right scale for Hobbits, so Jackson planted apple and pear trees and replaced all of the fruit with fake plums.
There are many tours daily, departing from The Shire’s Rest, the Matamata I-Site and Rotorua. Tours start at $84 and can sell-out pretty quickly so its best to book in advance from here.