When I think of New Zealand, I think of awesome landscapes. Rolling green hillsides, epic cliffs and mountains, pristine lakes and rushing waterfalls. It’s a beautiful backdrop and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so.
New Zealand is a popular filming location for TV shows and movies, including The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong. But it is probably most well known for its role in The Lord of the Rings series. It comes as no surprise that director Sir Peter Jackson, born in Wellington, opted to showcase his homeland in his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
Visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set was on the top of our list of things to do in New Zealand. The 1250 acre private farm was recreated into the Shire, home of Frodo, Bilbo and Sam, and featured prominently the films.
Hobbiton is about a 2 hour drive from Auckland. Several tour companies offer excursions but we drove here from Hamilton, about 45 minutes away.
Although reservations are suggested, we showed up on a summer Saturday at about 11:30 and were able to snag tickets for 30 minutes later. Tickets for Hobbiton cost 79 NZD for adults, which covers the 2 hour guided tour plus a free drink at the end of the tour.
Called the Shire’s Rest, this is the headquarters for ticket purchase, the gift shop, and a cafe. We didn’t try anything from the cafe, but instead brought a picnic to enjoy at one of the many picnic tables available.
Once it was our tour time, we assembled and got on the Hobbiton tour bus. During the bus ride, the driver told a few anecdotes about the farm and the family who owns it.
It’s a pretty interesting back story into how the farm was selected and converted into a filming location. After an aerial search, New Line Cinema made the Alexander family an offer they couldn’t refuse. The New Zealand Army even built a brand new road to the set. At its height, 400 crew members were on site every day and water and utilities had to be brought in.
Arriving at the set is a magical experience. I regret not catching up on the films before we came, but the setting is undoubtedly just as the Shire looked in the films. Tucked into the hills are 39 hobbit holes surrounded by fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
Hobbit holes were built to different scales to convey the height of various characters.
Smaller hobbit holes make Gandalf look large.
Larger hobbit holes make hobbits like Bilbo and Frodo look small.
The home of Samwise.
Bag End, the home of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.
Artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired to the tree.
The Mill and bridge are made out of scaffolding, ply and polystyrene.
Most of the hobbit holes are only the facade and can not be entered.
Except this one!
At the end of the tour we stopped at the Green Dragon Inn – the Shire’s local pub. Traditional beer is brewed locally and served in barrels from the Green Dragon Inn.
Here we were treated to a free drink: our choice of an amber ale, a stout, a cider or a nonalcoholic ginger beer. We tried the amber and stout and enjoyed it in the shade along the river.
The Green Dragon Inn guest book. Elijah Wood was here!
You don’t need to be a Lord Of The Ring fan to enjoy Hobbiton. Sir Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings are a huge part of kiwi culture, and a visit here is essential to any trip to New Zealand.