HOBBITON – THE MOVIE, THE MAGIC, THE SHIRE
SWORDS AND GOLDEN STATUES
The Queen of England doesn't grant knighthoods willy-nilly. Likewise, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn't award Oscars to just any New Zealander claiming to be a director. It is incredible attention to detail that has been the secret of Sir Peter Jackson's movie success, most notably with the Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit trilogies. This is evident in the setting for Hobbiton, a rolling sheep farm near Matamata in the Waikato.
THERE AND BACK
Some call it Middle Earth, others the Shire, but the official name is Hobbiton, home of the Hobbits and especially the two most famous , Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Peter Jackson scoured many locations across New Zealand and finally settled on this sheep farm to create his idyllic setting for the Shire. Since filming finished, the set has become a popular tourist attraction for Lord of the Rings, and Hobbit fans.
Hobbiton is not the arduous journey in your car rental as the movie suggests. It's located 2 hours south of Auckland and only 45 minutes from Hamilton. You can book your tour at the thatched roof i-Site in Matamata, and catch a shuttle bus from there, or make your own way to the Shires Rest Cafe onsite at 501 Buckland Rd Hinuera, Matamata. You'll board a bus there for your tour.
Both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit begin in the picturesque location of the Shire, commencing with a beautiful, peaceful setting before the main characters embark on a treacherous journey. Once you arrive at this location in your car rental, you'll discover why Sir Peter Jackson chose this amazing landscape.
You'll be forgiven for not containing your excitement when arriving at the actual movie set where Sir Peter Jackson filmed these epic movies. It is kind of surreal to find yourself at the most famous address in the Shire, Bag End, residence of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Both Bilbo and Frodo longed to return here when they were amidst the most dangerous part of their journey. You'll realise why when you see the view from Bag End down to the sprawling lake and Party Tree where Bilbo had his 111th Birthday Party. Knowledgeable tour guides are full of insider stories about the filming.
Continue along the pathways leading you past homes and doorways nestled in the rolling hills characteristic of the Shire. The tour ends at the picturesque Green Dragon Inn, with complimentary tea, coffee and ginger beer, with the chance to purchase cheese scones or muffins. Once you've been to Hobbiton, you will understand why Hobbits always return to the Shire at the end of every trilogy. It will be no surprise if you too want to return to Hobbiton in your car rental at the end of your New Zealand adventures.