Exploring Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

- Bilbo Baggins

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Everyone who knows me, even a little, knows that I have a geeky side that’s been alive and kicking since I was little. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, the whole shebang - I love it.

I’ve watched, and read, every movie and book of the LOTR trilogy, as well as the Hobbit, and nursed a serious fangirl crush on Viggo Mortensen since I was in middle school. I can recite the entirety of the Two Towers and Return of the King by heart (extended editions, thank you very much).

To say that Hobbiton was high on my New Zealand to-do list would be an understatement - it was at the freaking top.

SO, as we made our way down the scenic North Island, we stopped for two nights at a hostel called Matamata Backpackers (awesome place, if you’re headed that way), which is situated just 15 minutes away from the Hobbiton Movie Set.

We soon found out that many of the people staying there were the tour guides, chefs, and set designers that work over at Hobbiton. While we were there, we got to hang out with them and watched someone spend a whole day braiding Hobbit doormats for the set. It was awesome.

And that first night, we finally got to see what all the hype was about. We got the Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour funded through one of our gofundme’s (THANK YOU humans who contributed) and headed down at around 4:15 p.m. to the Shire’s Rest, the pick-up spot for the tour.

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We had a perfect day, which is luckier than you might think, as we strolled through Hobbiton’s 44 permanent hobbit holes. Hobbiton is situated on 14 of the 1,200 acres of the picturesque Alexander Family Farm. Peter Jackson first approached the Alexander family in 1998 to ask if he could build and film the famous Hobbiton set on their land.

After the younger son talked his father into saying ‘yes,’ the rest is history. While the set was built to be temporary, the resounding success of the films encouraged the Alexanders and Peter Jackson to create a permanent tourist attraction out of the location.

We walked through Bag End and along the path past the Party Tree as the sun was setting and it was magical. The brilliant colors of the door, the details on the little tables and in the windows, are all testament to Peter Jackson’s incredible OCD when it came to getting this set right.

He went so far as to bring in an apple tree, strip it of all it’s fruit and glue the fruits and leaves of a plum tree back on, just so he could have a 3 second scene of children playing under an old plum tree. This scene eventually got cut, but even still, you get the point.

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After strolling through the hobbit holes, we ended at the Green Dragon, the pub in the Shire that actually brews its own beer and ginger beer. After a beer on the house, we sat down to an amazing feast that left us both in the two cushy armchairs by the fire, unable to move.

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Following the feast, the night concluded with yet another tour back through the Shire, this time with the stars out. We all got old-fashioned lanterns to light our way and got to experience all of the hobbit holes illuminated at night. It was tricky to photograph and magical to behold.

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As for souvenirs, well, we were tempted by giant hobbit feet slippers in the gift store for a mere $100 (what?!) but opted for sneaking out two of our ale mugs from the Green Dragon instead. Tricksy, huh?


If you’re a geek like me and are super into this kind of thing AND find yourself in Northern New Zealand - the tour we took is offered every day during the summer and only Wednesday and Friday during the winter. You can read more about it here.