It’s time for the ultimate Middle Earth experience. If you are a J.R.R Tolkien fan, a Hobbiton movie set tour from Auckland will drive you nuts. Imagine posing at the Hobbit holes, gulping down a pint of beer at the Green Dragon Inn, and having your mind run wild with imagination in the land of the hobbits.
The cute little village of Hobbiton was first discovered by the acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson while scouting for possible locations for his films from a helicopter. That was when he came across this beautiful 12-acre sheep farm, and knew that it was just perfect. He soon contacted the Alexander family who owned the land and well, as they say, the rest is history.
While the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans go gaga over the nitty-gritties and cute detailing of the village, this place is also appealing to those who have never watched the movies before. So, want to know what the Hobbiton movie set tour from Auckland is like?
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland: An Overview
It’s funny how I always wished I could be part of the world of the little folks – a world without cares about politics, capitalism, and corporate jobs. Visiting Hobbiton for real, even just for a day, was inconceivable.
If you’re planning your trip to the village of the barefooted creatures, having a look at this brief overview shall help you.
Matamata, North Island, New Zealand
From Auckland: 175 kilometers
From Hamilton: 60 kilometers
The currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The conversion rates in terms of NZD, the American Dollar (USD) and the Indian Rupee (INR) are as follows:
1 NZD = 45 INR; 1 USD = 1.58 NZD
Note that I’ve mentioned INR because India is my home country.
Expensive, but worth it
|Best time to visit
December to March
Enroll for a tour, board a bus, or rent a car
The Hobbiton movie set tour
|Other things to do
Wairere Falls, Kaimai cheese factory, Waitomo glow worm caves, Firth tower, pools and springs, etc
Once again, Hobbiton has something to offer for everybody. Even if you’re someone that knows nothing about the little folks or the barefooted creatures, you’re going to fall in love with the village. Furthermore, it’s great bragging about having visited the Hobbit land – trust me.
Experiencing the Hobbit Life
The Hobbiton tour is a 2 hour long guided tour where you can experience the Hobbit homes and the Shire, first hand. The tour guides are very friendly and informative, giving tourists snippets and insider information about the film, the relevance of each house, and the importance of certain locations of in the movie.
Look Out for Details
There’s literally no end to it – clothes hung on ropes to dry, gardening tools and brooms, picnics set up by the docks, etc. Be observant, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the world of the little people.
Click, Click, Click
You simply cannot get too many photographs at Hobbiton. You’re going to want to pose or photograph everywhere, and that’s understandable. However, be swift and do not take too long setting the frame right for one particular short. Time will be limited, and at Hobbiton, you never realize how it flies by.
Gulp Down a Pint at the Green Dragon Inn
The hobbits’ favorite pub is calling out to you. Right at the end of your tour, you’ll have the opportunity to sip on some freshly brewed drinks. The much-liked apple cider and the non-alcoholic ginger beers are just a few of the many options.
A journey to Hobbiton is not complete without a trip to the Green Dragon Inn – where you are offered a complimentary beverage with a choice of two traditional ales, an apple cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer, all handcrafted and exclusive to Hobbiton Movie Set. If you’re overtly enthusiastic, you can dress up like a hobbit, and feel like a hobbit in Hobbit land.
Take Back Goodies
Last but not the least, is the souvenir shop which has original movie merchandise and exclusive items made especially for Hobbiton. This deserves a section to itself. Read on.
Stop by The Souvenir Shop
If you thought clicking enough photographs during your Hobbiton movie set tour was enough, wait till you enter the souvenir shop. If you are visiting Hobbiton on a budget, beware. In the constraints of this store, you’re going to have a tough time not blowing your budget.
|The souvenir shop has its shutters up from 8:30AM to 5:30PM. Also note that if your tour ends at Matamata or Auckland, you won’t have ample time to comfortably explore the extensive souvenirs.
This is one of the reasons why a self-drive car and a tour that starts from The Shire is preferred by visitors.
Souvenirs range from Hobbit postcards, to souvenir plates, magnets, frames, books, spoons, bags, backpacks, DVD’s and SO MUCH more. I dare you to leave empty-handed. I got myself a door mat that reads “not all those who wander are lost” – a famous line from the poem all that is gold does not glitter, written by J. R. R. Tolkien for The Lord of the Rings.
One thing you must definitely not miss out on browsing through is the beverage collection that they have. Wouldn’t that make for a great take-back-home?
Booking A Tour Right
First things first, you cannot explore Hobbiton on your own. Booking a tour is mandatory. However, you’ll be faced with so many options while booking a tour, that getting confused is inevitable. Let me try to paint a clearer picture for you.
What Should be the Starting Point of my Tour?
Where you start from is not going have much of an impact on what your tour is like. There are essentially 3 locations that most tours start from.
|The Shire’s Rest: Popularly known as TSR, this option must be picked by those who are planning to self-drive to Hobbiton. No off-set transfers are included. Note: Lots of free parking is available here.|
|Matamata: This is a great option for those without self-drive cars, or for those staying in Matamata. Tip: Consider spending a night in one of the farmhouses here – it’s like a dream.|
|Auckland or Tauranga: If you’re someone that prefers comfort and has not a lot of time in hand, booking a tour that looks into everything – transfers from and back to Auckland, as well as the tour itself, would be perfect.|
In a nutshell, the starting point of your tour would principally depend on your commute scenario – whether you have a vehicle at your discretion or not.
Where Should I Book from?
This is where a whole lot of confusion prevails. Now, there’s 2 main options: booking straight from the website, or booking from one of the many third-party tour operators.
|If I were to offer my personal advice on this dilemma, I’d suggest you to book from the website itself. By doing this, you get more liberty to choose the time you want to visit Hobbiton at. Furthermore, in case of any change in plans, or cancellations, you’d be able to get your way around. In the case of third-party operators, refunds or any kind of amendments to your tours would be far-fetched.|
Lastly, you might notice that prices are higher when you try booking directly (from the website). However, you now know what you’re paying a higher price for – flexibility, accommodativeness, and better service. Also remember that prices on the official website are quoted in Australian Dollars (AUD) as against most third-party operators that pitch in American Dollars (USD).
Which Tour Should I Book?
Just when you thought booking a tour is as confusing as it can get, you get exposed to the different types of tours that exist. There are morning tours, and then there’s evening tours – those starting around dusk, which involves seeing the Hobbiton village at its best. Pathways are illuminated with yellow lights, and guests are offered handheld lanterns to be guided all the way.
Then, there’s movie tours with meals and without meals, those offering excursions to other picturesque settings through the valley, and even those with guides well-versed with Mandarin. Basically, explore all your options well, skim through the prices, and then make a well-thought decision. After all, when are you going to visit the Hobbit land again?
Note: You cannot visit Hobbiton on your own. You NEED to have booked a tour, and it’s better you do this in advance.
Hobbiton Ticket Prices: How Much Should I Pay?
Tour costs depend on the inclusions, the transfers, where you book from, etc. If you book directly from the official website, a basic tour that starts at The Shire will set you back 85 AUD. Remember that visiting Hobbit land doesn’t come cheap, but really, some things are so worth splurging on.
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland: Prepping for The Trip of a Lifetime
If you’re visiting New Zealand for a Hobbiton movie set tour from Auckland, you’re definitely going to want to leave no stone unturned with the preps.
|What to Wear?
There are no hard and fast regulations you need to stick by. However, as a rule of thumb, wear something comfortable. There’s going to be a lot of walking involved, and you don’t want to be sulking about aching feet. So, wear comfortable hiking shoes.
Talking about clothes, dressing in layers is advisable. Always carry a hoodie or a jacket that will keep you warm in case of dwindling temperatures. Lastly, be rainproof. Raincoats, windcheaters, ponchos, umbrellas – whatever floats your boat. Rains in this region are highly unpredictable. One moment, you’ll be flashing your sunglasses, and the next, you’ll find yourself running for shelter.
|What to Carry?
The most important is to carry your camera and extra batteries. You really don’t want to be running out of charge in a place as exotic as Hobbiton. Imagine not having posed by the Hobbit holes or at Green Dragon. That’s just a big no-no. Other than that, just carry what you normally do – Hobbiton isn’t a tricky place to pack for.
Along with keeping all these pointers in mind, do check the weather forecast before you make your way to Hobbiton. As mentioned above, the weather here is ever-changing and you must be prepared for the unexpected.
Best Time to Visit Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland
As mentioned in the overview section of the blog above, December to March is really the best time for a Hobbiton movie set tour from Auckland in terms of weather conditions. However, this also means that tourists flock in larger numbers than through the rest of the year.
To make matters worse, schools in New Zealand are on leave for 6 weeks starting around Christmas to around mid-February.
Know that at a place as historic and picturesque as Hobbiton, beating the crowds is next to impossible. However, you could try your luck out by either visiting the very first tour of the day, or one of the lasts. Still, be prepared for having your photographs photo-bombed by random happy tourists – that’s something you just can’t escape. It’s…Hobbiton.
Mind-Boggling Facts About Hobbiton
Hobbiton is no less than a fantasy wonderland brimming with surprises and fun facts. I mean, when someone as prudent as Sir Peter Jackson is to direct a film, this is bound to happen.
- The whole of shire (Hobbiton) was about 12 acres, and consisted of 44 hobbit holes and a Pub. All hobbit holes are custom made, with amazing attention to detail – there are pots, pans, cups, honey jars, etc, all of which are adjusted to every hobbit hole.
- For the prequel “The Hobbit,” the director decided that the Oak tree would have to be 50 years younger, so he decided to rebuild the tree from scratch hiring interns to hand paint 376,000 vinyl leaves.
- A big family of frogs that had claimed the man-made pond as their home, proved to be a little too rowdy. Thus, a person was actually hired and paid to have all of them transferred to another pond on the farm.
- The Shire constructed for the Lord of The Rings trilogy was deconstructed once the shoot was done. However, locals agreed to the shooting of The Hobbit trilogy on one condition – that the set would be built to stay this time. Everyone thought this was a good idea and well…we know how it went then.
- The length of the grass was regulated throughout the shooting course. How, you may ask? By having the sheep eat it.
- In March 2015, Hobbiton opened arms to its one millionth visitor.
Getting to Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland
Located at a distance of 178 kilometers from Auckland, Hobbiton is quite easy to get to. Now, there’s a number of ways to do so. I’ll list them all down, following which you can decide what suits your whims and fancies the best.
Tour from Auckland to Hobbiton
For obvious reasons, Hobbiton is frequently frequented by travelers from across the world. To cater to this demand, a number of travel companies and operators have come up with Hobbiton movie set tours from Auckland.
|What’s great about these tours is the fact that they make wonderful pit-stops on the way – ones where your photography skills can be truly manifested, and where you can devour delicious meals with a view.|
There’s a wide array of deals and combos you could pick from – some pick you up (around 9:30-10AM) and drop you back (by 8PM) to Auckland, some come with just a pick-up service, and so on.
Self Drive from Auckland to Hobbiton
A popular category when it comes to travelers, is the ones that love driving – especially the experience of driving in a foreign land. I get it. Fortunately for the driving fanatics out there, it is very convenient to rent a car in Auckland.
|Remember that hiring in New Zealand is always going to depend on a number of factors. The most important ones are the seasonality, and the demand for vehicles at any given point. Given all these things, average per day rental fee for a small (and well-maintained) car would be 30 NZD or more. You could also rent out bigger vehicles, camper-vans even – depending on the need.|
What’s unfortunate is that fares vary substantially when it comes to renting out a vehicle. You might come across some companies and websites advertising car rentals for as little as 9 NZD a day. However, do not blindly fall for them. There’s always going to be a catch – an old, depreciated car, other costs tend to snowball and add up, there’s minimum number of days you need to hire the vehicle for, etc.
Note: You need an international driving permit to drive in New Zealand.
Hop on To a Bus
For those who fancy independence but do not wish to splurge on renting out a vehicle, there’s good news. There’s now an Intercity bus not from Auckland to Hobbiton movie set, but to Matamata, which is really close by. This costs as low as 2-3 NZD. From Matamata, you can either book a tour, or take the shuttle to Hobbiton.
It’s Not All About the Hobbits – Other Places to Visit
You do not have to hide under a blanket or feel left out if you aren’t passionate about LOTR and the Hobbit, OR if you haven’t even watched them in the first place.
Firstly, Hobbiton is loved by even those that aren’t typically admirers of the movies. Furthermore, there’s so much more to do and to see in Matamata. Following are some places worth checking out:
153 metres high, these falls offer breath-taking views of the region, and require you to tread through lush green bushes and dangling tree roots.
Kaimai Cheese Factory
If you’re not up for doing much, you could spend a few hours sampling a wide range of cheese, and enjoying a cheesy meal in their in-house café.
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
These caves are a must-visit for anybody visiting the region. Be starstruck as you gaze at thousands of magical glow worms lighting up this beautiful cave network.
Pools and Springs
You really don’t need to navigate around much to have a good time in this neighborhood. Natural pools, waterfalls, and hot springs can be found in every nook and cranny.
Sitting in a lush-green setting, dotted with bright pink roses, this tower makes everyone bring out the photographer in them. It was built back in 1882, and is surrounded by 13 buildings, now turned into exhibitions and museums.
Other than this, there’s trails, farmhouses, plantations, golf courses, and a world waiting to be discovered in Matamata.
Placed on a picturesque private farmland near the small town of Matamata, is the Hobbiton Movie Set which draws thousands of travelers each year. Don’t wait. Hop on to a plane and indulge in this once in a lifetime experience. After all, not all those who wander are lost.
Happy Wayfaring 🙂