“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Coming to Hobbiton was more than just visiting the set of an epic movie to me. I am a Lord of the Rings nerd through and through and this experience was something beyond my wildest dreams. Getting to see your imagination turned into a reality is an experience not everyone gets to have. Beyond that, I was lucky enough to be able to experience it with not only one of my closest friends, but fellow nerd – and this experience wouldn’t have been the same without having gotten to share it with her as well.
It is not possible to visit the set without a guided tour. It is strongly recommended you make reservations in advance, but not required. Many times it is offered as a tour from Auckland, Rotorua and surrounding cities or you can book directly as well. There are also some additional experiences if you’re looking for a little more than just the standard tour.
The website also has FAQs and further information about booking. Groups are broken down into around 20 and a group leaves every 5 minutes making it a slightly crowded experience.
If you are as big a fan as we were though, there is truly only one way to experience Hobbiton – and that is on International Hobbit Day.
International Hobbit Day
International Hobbit Day occurs every year on September 22 (Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday). While it can be celebrated around the world, Hobbiton is the place to be. For those massive LotR fans this is a CAN’T MISS life experience. You get the regular tour of Hobbiton (but with much fewer people) as well as an entire party in Hobbiton complete with music, dancing, unlimited food and drinks, games and a costume contest. THAT’S RIGHT. There is nothing that makes Middle Earth come to life more than being surrounded by hobbits, dwarves, wizards and elves. Tickets cost a pretty penny but are worth every single cent.
I cannot humanly express how much fun I had. Getting to experience Middle Earth surrounded by people who love it just as much as you do is truly moving.
Kaley went dressed as Frodo, complete with an authentic cloak and broach and Sting (Bilbo’s sword that he hands down to Frodo) which were hilarious to watch her pack. I wanted to go a little less conventional so I went as The Ring. I was covered in gold body paint, gold glitter and she skillfully and beautifully painted on the elven lettering. While we didn’t win, the costumes were still a big hit. I am in a bunch of random people’s pictures who wanted a picture with The One Ring. And of course, we got a picture of Frodo carrying The Ring (above).
I am not ashamed to say that I cried tears of joy on three separate occasions that night. We got to meet the owner of the land and even an actor from The Hobbit trilogy (Mark Hadlow who plays Dori). I left there with a stomach full of Hobbit food and ale and a heart full of joy.
“Will we ever be this happy again?” – Kaley
The set is located right outside the city of Matamata. If you’re coming as a day trip you won’t really see the city but if you’re coming for International Hobbit Day you will want to stay overnight as the party goes til later in the evening.
We stayed at the Horse & Jockey Inn for a budget option and it was fine. I have no strong opinions about it either way.
There is also The Shire’s Rest cafe located at the entrance to Hobbiton which is clearly where we chose to eat and then browse the gift shop the next morning.
More Lord of the Rings
Haven’t got your LotR fix yet? Us either. For another epic LotR themed tour on the North Island check out Hairy Feet Waitomo. It takes you around to various filming locations from The Hobbit with great detail and stories from the owner of the land who also happens to be a huge fan, making it even cooler.
You can also go see Mount Doom and hike into Mordor in nearby Taupo.
There are additional things to do on the South Island but we didn’t have the time to make it all the way down there this trip.