Discovering Middle-Earth in Hobbiton

I have a confession to make: I think The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies are nothing special. And don't get me started on the books. I've been put to sleep by every single one.

But a trip to Middle-earth changed my perspective completely.



When I arrived in the North Island, Hobbiton Movie Set Tours invited The Chronicles of Wanderlust for a private tour I couldn't pass up.

Bright and early, Kelly and I hopped on a shuttle bus from Rotorua and arrived in Matamata an hour later. Here, a 1,250 acre sheep and cattle farm had been transformed into J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world.




We met up with our welcoming guide Sam and off we went into the Shire. Sam led us through hobbit sized trails and colourful gardens. At the same time, he filled our heads with interesting Lord of the Rings trivia and other cool facts about the movie sets. His passion for the films were apparent and his enthusiasm was contagious. The more I ventured into the Shire, the more excited I became. I was on my way to becoming a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan!



I couldn't believe my eyes! Everything looked exactly like it did in the movies. The attention to detail was immaculate. It felt so real. I actually thought I was in the Shire! 






How did this extraordinary movie set come to life you ask? In 1998, Peter Jackson and his team scoured the world for the perfect location to film his Lord of the Rings trilogy. He ended up here, on a farm in Matamata. Jackson struck a deal with the Alexander family and filming began shortly. Initially, the sets were built from cheap materials such as styrofoam and untreated timber. As a result, these sets were not built to last.

When filming wrapped up, the farm owners asked for the sets to be left behind. After the box office success of The Fellowship of the Ring, the Alexanders got the ingenious idea to start hosting tours out of their backyard. 







When Peter Jackson returned to Matamata to film The Hobbit trilogy, the Alexanders had one condition; they wanted the sets to be rebuilt so that they would last permanently. Jackson agreed.  





Today, thousands of tourists from around the globe flock to New Zealand to experience this incredible place. Hobbiton has become so popular that some people even have their weddings here!


Sam stopped his story telling as we came to a halt. I knew exactly where we were; at Bilbo's house in Bag End! I was just waiting for Frodo and Bilbo to pop their heads out and say hello.


Did you know the tree above Bilbo's house isn't real? It's made of steel and silicon and cost almost a million dollars to create. Crazy eh? 



There are a total of 39 Hobbit holes, all ranging in different sizes. Some are extremely tiny while others are life size. The small ones helped create the illusion of short Hobbits. The life size ones were for the actors.



After a trek through the entire grounds, Kelly and I were starting to get thirsty. Sam announced it was time for a drink at the Green Dragon Pub. Yipee! 






We skipped across the bridge and into the pub. Inside, I was blown away by my surroundings.


Once again, the attention to detail was incredible. Authentic Hobbit ads plastered the walls, rustic furniture welcomed guests and a warm fire was ablaze.

The best part of all? The Green Dragon Pub is a fully functioning bar! Sam poured us each a cider and off we went to chat and explore.



I sipped my cider while gazing out into the alluring Shire. I don't think I'll be returning to real life anytime soon! 

If you're in New Zealand, I highly recommend booking a tour to Hobbiton. Even if you aren't a Lord of the Rings fanatic, I believe there is something for everyone here. The scenic gardens, rolling hills and lush greenery is sure to leave you in awe. If you enjoy the movies, you'll love discovering Middle-earth (it's like Disneyland for adults!) and learning how the films were made. 

Tours depart multiple times a day and usually take around two hours to complete. If you can't get to Matamata on your own, there is a shuttle bus from Rotorua that will take you directly to the set. For details and booking information click here

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing all the photo's and info, what an amazing place :D

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  2. No problem :) It was such a cool place to visit! If you're ever in New Zealand you need to check it out.

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