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Is The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Really Worth It?

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New Zealand is known as the Mecca for Lord of the Rings fans. Throughout the country you can find filming locations and all kinds of tours. One of the most popular spots is Mount Doom, which you can climb while hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Another one, that’s accessible for LOTR fans of all ages and fitness levels, is the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.

Birthe Welcomes you to HobbitonBirthe Welcomes you to Hobbiton

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is pretty expensive though. Is it really worth a visit? Keep reading to find out.


The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour in Short


The Hobbiton Movie Set

The Hobbiton Movie Set is what you see as The Shire in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. The Shire, with its lush green rolling hills and the town of Hobbiton is in reality part of the Alexander Farm. It was scouted in an aerial search in 1998 and by the end of 1999 Hobbiton was built.

Location

The  Hobbiton Movie Set is located in Matamata, well north of Lake Taupo, on the north island of New Zealand.

The town of Hobbiton

Hobbiton counts no less than 44 hobbit holes: 39 were built for the Lord of the Rings movies and 5 more were added for The Hobbit movies. Some of the houses are themed, corresponding with the job of the hobbit living there: a florist, a cheesemaker, a baker, you name it!

The hobbit holes are just fronts though, there’s nothing inside. We’re just managing your expectations here, because we were pretty disappointed when finding this out. Apparently the filming inside the houses was done at a studio in Wellington. The gardens have real vegetables though, which they use in their café.

Nothing on the inside, unfortunatelyNothing on the inside, unfortunately

There is one hobbit hole that’s decorated on the inside (or for 3 meters at least): Bag End, Bilbo Baggins’ home. This was done for just one shot made from the inside of the house with an overview over The Shire. The things they did for a couple of seconds of screen time, unbelievable!

The fake tree above Bag End is another example of the great lengths they’ve gone through to add detail and make everything seem as real as possible. Your guide will gladly tell you all about it.

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

You can only visit the Hobbiton Movie Set on a fully guided walking tour, there’s no way to wander around on your own.

The tour itself is always the same, but there are departures organised from different locations (more info in the practical info section). You can also opt to include a lunch or dinner in your Hobbiton tour, but we’ll elaborate on that in the ticket prices section.

The guide will help everyone get this photoThe guide will help everyone get this photo

All included, from departure at The Shire's Rest to returning there, the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour took about 2 hours. A 10 minute bus ride takes you and your fellow tour group members to Hobbiton. The driver will tell you about the discovery of the site, life on the set, and the Alexander Farm that’s been there since before the film fame.

It was a grey and rainy day when we were visiting. That didn’t temper the enthusiasm of our young guide though. She took us on a walking tour through Hobbiton, while passionately explaining us all about the 44 hobbit holes, the Party Tree and everything there’s to know about the Hobbiton Movie Set.

That includes interesting facts and trivia about the techniques used and the astonishing amount of precision and detail Sir Peter Jackson (the director of the movies) demanded. A little sunshine would have made the experience even better, and the colours of the hobbit houses pop even more, but it was still awesome.

The Green DragonThe Green Dragon

We ended our Hobbiton Movie Set Tour at The Green Dragon Inn with a complementary handcrafted ale. It was a pretty big cup and we only had about 10 minutes in there to finish it, so this last part felt a bit rushed.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour – practical info

Hobbiton Movie Set Tours depart from The Shire's Rest daily from 9:00 until 15:30 and take about 2 hours. In high season, from September to March, there are possibly additional tours available.

Another tour departure spot is the Matamata i-SITE, the town’s visitor information centre. Tours depart here daily at 9:30, 11:00, 12:30, 14:00, and 15:30, and take about 3 hours. An additional tour might depart at 17:00 on certain days between December 1 and February 28.

We provide more information on how to get to these departure spots in another section below.

Note that the guided walking tour through Hobbiton is outdoors, so dress accordingly. The tours won’t be cancelled due to rain, instead you can make use of the wide umbrellas that are available for free.

The Party TreeThe Party Tree
The Famous Sign at Bag EndThe Famous Sign at Bag End

TIP: Hobbiton is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of New Zealand, so best buy your tickets online beforehand to avoid disappointments!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour – ticket prices

Prices mentioned here are in effect from April 1, 2020.

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour cost us NZ$79 (~ US$50 ~ €45) per person, which was the entrance fee for an adult, with guided tour, without transfer back in 2016. Now, starting from April 1, 2020, the ticket price is NZ$89 (~ US$56 ~ €50). This applies for departures at The Shire's Rest and Matamata i-SITE. Click here to check out availability and buy your Hobbiton tour tickets.

If you want to book the Hobbiton Tour and lunch combo, it will cost you NZ$120 (~ US$76 ~ €67) per person. Lunch will be served buffet style at the Party Marquee, adjacent to The Green Dragon Inn, where you can sit at shared tables with your tour group. There are 3 tour departure times a day for this option. Click here to check out availability and buy your Hobbiton tour and lunch combo tickets.

Probably the coolest, but also the most expensive, Hobbiton experience is the Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour. You’ll get the same guided walking tour as any other visitor, but after the banquet feast in the The Green Dragon dining room, you’ll walk through a lit up Hobbiton in the moonlight! Ticket prices for this are NZ$199 (~ US$126 ~ €111) per person and only available on 4 days a week. Click here to check out availability and buy your Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour tickets.

We bought our Hobbiton tour tickets upon arrival at The Shire's Rest, just like a bunch of others. But we were visiting in low season. Make sure you book your tickets well beforehand when visiting during high season, which is from September to March.

If you need a transfer included in your Hobbiton tour ticket, check out the section on how to get to the Hobbiton Movie Set.

Try to figure out the different themes of the housesTry to figure out the different themes of the houses

TIP: Check out Bookme New Zealand for any last-minute deals on Hobbiton tour tickets. Just enter “Hobbiton” in the search bar.

How to get to the Hobbiton Movie Set

As mentioned before, the  Hobbiton Movie Set is located in Matamata, Waikato. You can book tours starting from basically every city in the neighbourhood: Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga, and Matamata obviously.

However, we just booked the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour without a transfer. We were road tripping New Zealand in our rented Spaceships Campervan, so drove to Matamata in our own time. There’s a rather big car park at The Shire's Rest, which houses the ticketing centre, a gift shop, and a café.

For us, Hobbiton was a stop between our stay in Rotorua and Waitomo. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are another crazy popular tourist attraction that tours often combine with a visit to Hobbiton. If you’ve had enough of the crowds after The Shire though, we recommend heading to the Waipu Caves for a free glowworm alternative to the Waitomo Caves.

How to get to Hobbiton from Matamata

If you’re staying in Matamata, the town where the Hobbiton Movie Set is located, you can book a tour including a transfer from the Matamata i-SITE, the local visitor information centre. Ticket prices are the same as if you’d leave from The Shire's Rest, but the tour (including transport) will take about 3 hours in this case. Click here to check out availability and book your Hobbiton Movie Set tour ticket from Matamata.

Exploring HobbitonExploring Hobbiton
Hobbiton looks like a peaceful placeHobbiton looks like a peaceful place
You get time to pose wherever you wantYou get time to pose wherever you want

How to get to Hobbiton from Auckland

Auckland is located about 180 km (~ 112 miles) northwest of Hobbiton, a drive that’ll take over 2 hours. There are several companies offering tours that include a transfer from Auckland to Hobbiton and back, like these:

Looking for a Hobbiton tour from Auckland?
Check out these options:

A Hobbiton tour from Auckland takes at least 8 hours, as the drive alone takes over 2 hours one way. These tours usually depart early, around 7:00. Expect to pay somewhere between NZ$220 and NZ$310, depending if lunch is included or not.

While you’re in the neighbourhood, you might want to check out some other tourist attractions as well, like the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, or the geothermal city of Rotorua. You can find several day tours or 2-day tours combining these with a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour:

Looking for a combo tour from Auckland that includes Hobbiton?
Check out these options:

How to get to Hobbiton from Rotorua

Rotorua, known for its geothermal activity, is just 1 hour or 70 km (~ 44 miles) southeast of Hobbiton. Here are a couple of tours including a transfer from Rotorua to Hobbiton and back:

Looking for a Hobbiton tour from Rotorua?
Check out these options:

Expect to pay about NZ$120 for a Hobbiton tour from Rotorua, which will take about 5 hours. If you want to make it a day tour and combine it with a tour in Rotorua or the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, ticket prices can climb up to over NZ$300.

How to get to Hobbiton from Tauranga

Tauranga is a coastal city about 50 minutes or 60 km (~ 38 miles) northeast of Hobbiton. Although this place isn’t that well-known, there are a couple of tours including a transfer from Tauranga to Hobbiton and back:

Looking for a Hobbiton tour from Tauranga?
Check out these options:

Depending on other stops (like Rotorua) being included in the tour or not, expect to pay somewhere between NZ$175 and NZ$300 for a 5 to 7 hour tour.

Where to stay near Hobbiton?

If you’re planning on spending the night near Hobbiton, you can check these Hobbiton accommodation options. This is a good idea when you’re joining the Hobbiton Evening Banquet tour for example, or want to explore Matamata as well.

Is the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour worth it?

For us, the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour was definitely worth our money! We’re not Lord of the Rings geeks, just fans at best. OK, honestly, I’d only seen the movies a couple of days before our visit, under slight pressure from Brecht. It isn’t obligatory to have seen them, but it adds to your experience in our opinion. At least you’ll know what you’re looking at and posing with.

One of these is a scarecrowOne of these is a scarecrow
Too tall for this jobToo tall for this job

It was an interesting tour, and we loved to hear about the neat tricks and tremendous effort put into the filming of the movie. It wasn’t really busy during our visit (a rainy day in the off season), but I can image it’s hard to look past the hordes of tourists and really enjoy Hobbiton in high season. Anyway, if we had to do it all over, the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour would still be on our New Zealand bucket list!

Have you visited Hobbiton? Do you agree it was worth the money you paid for it? We’re looking forward to reading all about your experience in the comments!

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Hobbiton - worth a visit?Hobbiton – worth a visit?