This is definitely one of the most touristy and nerdiest things I’ve done while traveling…
In all honestly, it’s not something I probably would have gone out of the way to do on my own. I’ve seen all the Lord of the Rings movies, but I’m in no way a major fan. And if you are a fan of the movies, this will be an amazing experience. It was still super fun for me because I was with friends who were big fans. Be warned, though—it is expensive! An adult ticket is 79 NZD, which is about $55 USD as I write this. So you definitely have to decide if that’s worth it for you if you’re not a massive fan.
See my tips on how to have the best Hobbiton visit at the bottom of this post
We’d been staying in Rotorua for a few days, which is only about an hour’s drive from Hobbiton. We left around 7:30 or 8:00am because our tickets were for the 9:30 tour. It rained most of the way over there, but thankfully cleared up just as we arrived. But unfortunately we still didn’t get blue skies—it was the one day in our two weeks in New Zealand where we didn’t have perfect weather, so we really can’t complain.
After poking around the gift shop for a few minutes, we boarded the bus and rode for 10-15 minutes to the set, where we were met by our guide, Sara.
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The walking part of the tour is probably about an hour. She took us through the set, explaining where certain scenes were filmed, why some of the houses are bigger than others (movie magic!), and other fun behind-the-scenes stories. I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes stuff…I want to know how things work, and always like feeling like I have the inside scoop.
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There are only one or two houses that you can actually go into, the rest are just facades. I loved all the bright colors and fun little details that gave each house such personality. Not to mention the flowers and other greenery that were lush and gorgeous!
My friend Sarai had brought this (kind of creepy) stuffed hobbit doll with her, which made its way into some of our pictures (like the blue door house above).
So there’s that…
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As the tour wound down, we made our way across this adorable little bridge to the Green Dragon pub. This cat is pretty badass, so I felt like he deserved a feature here.
At the Green Dragon you have about 15-20 minutes to have a free drink (when we were there you could pick from a couple beers or a cider). There’s also food and hot drinks for purchase as well. The pub is pretty cool, they’ve really gone all-out on making everything feel super authentic, from the little flyers hanging up to huge hearth carvings.
Also, I have NO idea what was happening with those clothes. You can put on random clothes and take pictures but I honestly don’t know why…but peer pressure conned me into it.
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When we were there, the second Hobbit movie was just coming out (or had just been released?), and Air New Zealand customized their plane livery in celebration. So we rode Smaug the Dragon home from Auckland later that afternoon…which seemed really fitting after our charming morning at Hobbiton.
Tips for visiting Hobbiton when you’re in New Zealand
- You can purchase your tickets ahead of time and look at the different tour options at the official website
- Book the earliest tour if possible, it’s not as crowded so you aren’t quite as rushed and get better pics. We did a 9:30 Sunday morning tour.
- Hobbiton (the Shire!) is in Matamata, about an hour’s drive from Rotorua and 2 hours from Auckland
- Tours depart from The Shire’s Rest visitor center
- Sunday morning at 9:30, about 3 hrs; 1 hr from Rotorua, then 2 more on to Auckland
- Wear comfy shoes, as you’ll be walking a lot (and they might get muddy if it’s been raining)
- If you’re really REALLY into this stuff, there are even more special tours available, including an evening banquet
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Have you visited any of the Lord of the Rings set sites? What did you think??
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