Last updated October 12, 2023.
Have you dreamed of visiting Hobbiton since first watching Lord of the Rings? If so, this article on how to explore Hobbiton is exactly what you need to plan your visit to Middle Earth!
The first time I watched Lord of the Rings I was 9, and I just fell in love with the Shire. The colourful doors of the Hobbit holes against the green pastures charmed me, and I quickly dreamed of living there myself.
Unfortunately, I am not a Hobbit. And while I couldn’t live out my dream of eating second breakfast in Bilbo Baggins Hobbit Hole, when I started thinking about a trip to New Zealand, I knew I could at least spend a few hours pretending that I did.
So when I left Australia, I knew that I just couldn’t go home without stopping and exploring New Zealand, and therefore Hobbiton, first.
Table of Contents
Your Guide On How To Explore Hobbiton
Where Is Hobbiton?
Hobbiton, AKA The Shire, is located on the Alexander family farm in Matamata on New Zealand’s North Island.
In 1998 Peter Jackson was scouting locations for The Shire to be, and when flying over the Alexander Farm, he knew he found his Hobbiton.
The farm was a working sheep farm, and it’s said that when the team went to the farm to ask for permission to film there, they were told to come back at a better time, because the Rugby came was on! The family later made a deal with the team and Hobbiton was created.
After filming the Hobbiton Holes were demolished with just the fronts remaining. Guided tours were given of these.
In 2009 when it came time for Peter Jackson to film The Hobbit movies, Hobbiton was restored, and The Shire remained standing.
Truthfully, I wanted to go to the South Island, I really did. But I just couldn’t go to New Zealand and NOT explore Hobbiton. That would be wrong.
This just means I’ll need to go back to New Zealand to discover the rest of the country, because the mountains and fjords on the South Island look incredible.
How To Get To Hobbiton?
Matamata is about a
- 2-hour drive from Auckland
- 5 hour from Taupo
- 1 hour from Rotorua
- 45 minutes from Hamilton
- 45 minutes from Tauranga
The Hobbiton Movie Tours website has great directions!
Most people do a Hobbiton bus tour from Rotorua for a half-day visit. This is what I did, but I could easily have moved in if given the chance!
I think New Zealand is the perfect place to do a road trip. As I was driving to each destination, I would be consistently wowed with the views I was given. I cannot tell you the number of times I pulled over just to stare at the countryside.
Exploring Hobbiton – The Tour
How your tour starts depends on how you visit.
When I visited I chose to do a tour with pickup from a meeting point near my hostel in Rotorua. I boarded a Lord of the Rings bus and as we drove, we were given pamphlets and some fun facts about the filming of the movies.
If you choose to drive there yourself, then your tour will begin at The Shire’s Rest, the ticket center and gift shop. Here you can buy souvenirs or grab something small to eat from the café.
The address for The Shire’s Rest is 501 Buckland Road, Hinuera, Matamata.
It was pouring rain during my visit, but that didn’t make it any less magical. As I walked into The Shire I chanted to myself in my head in Bilbo’s voice, “I’m going on an adventure!”.
My guide was incredible with his friendliness and was ready with his movie knowledge.
We were told that each of the Hobbit homes frequently get re-arranged, so that each home is never the same. Some had laundry hanging outside. Others had picnics set up. Each was different with the impression that they were being lived in. They all had such personality.
Our guide was great, and took the time to let each person take plenty of photos, and pose with certain Hobbit homes. Only a few had doors that opened because the inside of the homes were actually filmed on a set in Wellington, where Peter Jackson lives. The few that opened had little space inside and nothing in there.
Still, getting to take photos peeking out from inside a Hobbit home was so fun.
While wandering we learned some fun facts. Such as the party tree cost 1 million dollars to set up. For the party scene in Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring, the guests were all the cast and crews’ family and friends. In the end scene when Sam is with his children, it was actually his child and Rosie’s child in the scene. I love little details like that as I find it makes the behind the scenes stories much more personal.
After wandering around the property, we stopped for a drink at the Green Dragon. Inside was exactly how I imagined it would be. And even better, there was a cat that lives there.
I want to be that cat!
Apparently the poor kitty was thrown from a vehicle on the road to Hobbiton, so it was brought in and now lives at Hobbiton, and is loved by all visitors.
The tour ended much too quickly.
FAQ’s About Your Visit To Hobbiton
Do I need to book in advance?
Yes we highly recommend booking in advance as this is a very popular activity for visitors to the area and tickets often sell out.
Can you stay at Hobbiton overnight?
This would be my dream, but sadly no. There was an Airbnb event for the 10-year anniversary but otherwise, we cannot spend a night in Hobbiton.
Do I need to go on a tour?
Yes, all guests must go on a tour, there is no self-guided option.
How much does a ticket cost?
As of the writing of this article, ticket prices are $88 for adults, $44 for children between 9-16, and free for those under 9.
What does my ticket include?
Your ticket includes a short bus ride over to the set from the Shire’s rest, an hour and 15-minute guided tour, and 20 minutes with a complimentary drink at The Green Dragon.