We work in television, so being on set is something we're used to, but the Lord of the Rings HOBBITON movie set was awesome! I read the first Lord of the Rings books in high school and have seen a couple of the movies but I wouldn't call myself an expert or super fan by any means. This place was so picturesque and perfect, I enjoyed it way more then I thought I was going to!
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How to Get to Hobbiton
We were staying in Auckland and booked our tour through Viator.
It's around $220 USD but includes:
- Transportation to and from Hobbiton
- Tour of the Shire
- Lunch at the Dragon Inn
- A cider, ale or ginger beer inside the Green Dragon Inn
- $10 Voucher for the Giftshop
It's an 8-hour tour which starts bright and early with a pickup from your hotel around 7am. We stopped at a coffee shop along the way for a little snack and stretch since it was a 2.5 hour bus ride. Sound like a long ride, but the sites along the way were picturesque and gorgeous. The ride also allowed us to catch up on a little sleep!
Arriving at Hobbiton
When searching New Zealand for the perfect location, Jackson sought out for a tall tree near a lake that could live up to the "Party Tree" as described in the books. The perfect location for the Shire was finally found in Matamata on a working sheep farm in the heart of Waikato.
Apparently the location scout for the movie landed his helicopter and went up to the Alexander house to inquire about using the land in an upcoming movie. Mr. Alexander's reaction was the best, he told the scout that the rugby was on, and he should come back later. He did.
To get to bag end, you must drive through the 1250 acre sheep farm owned by the Alexander family to make it up to the world’s biggest outdoor movie set.
Fun fact: with over 13,500 sheep on the farm, not one of them were shown in the film. Director, writer and producer, Peter Jackson, preferred the look of Suffolk sheep with dark faces and legs, which were brought in for filming.
Read more about Small-Group Tour: The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland - Auckland | Viator at: https://www.viator.com/tours/Auckland/Small-Group-Tour-The-Lord-of-the-Rings-Hobbiton-Movie-Set-Tour-from-Auckland/d391-3582HOB?pub=vcps
The Shire was built twice since it was torn down after the Lord of the Rings trilogy wrapped, then rebuilt for the Hobbit movies. The set covers 12 acres, featuring 44 hobbit holes.
We started venturing into the Shire, seeing all the hobbit holes including Bilbo Baggins’s house. Between 30 and 200 plants surround each hobbit hole, employing seven to eight gardeners to maintain the beautiful agricultural grounds.
The holes are based on different sizes to feed to the illusion of their actual size. The holes used by actors playing hobbits were built at a 90 percent scale, while the holes used by Gandalf were built at a 60 percent scale to make him look much larger.
This hobbit hole was my favorite! Just look at how pretty it is! We spent a lot of time here!
Most of the scenes filmed inside the holes were on a set, leaving the Hobbit holes as facades but there are some you can walk into. The inside is only about 5 feet, but still, fun to walk in!
Hobbiton was allowed to stay in New Zealand as long as they kept the grounds just as it looked in the movie.
The Party Tree
The "Party Tree" can be found on the top of the hill of Hobbiton above Bilbo's house. This 70-80 meter tall oak tree's color is greener than most because it is made of fiberglass and hand painted silk leaves that were individually wired on to each branch.
While shooting the movies, the frogs in the pond were too noisy affecting dialogue among the characters and causing an inability to hear each other. Peter Jackson actually paid someone to move ALL of the frogs relocating them to a different pond on the sheep farm. They were put back after production wrapped.
The Green Dragon
The Green Dragon was a later edition to the farm in 2012. Southfarthing beverages can be found exclusively at the Green Dragon Inn: an apple cider, non-alcoholic ginger beer and two ales, all brewed at the Good George Brewery in Hamilton. They are served at the bar in the Green Dragon Inn. Our tour came with one, but we bought another round.
Totally worth checking out! Click here for the Small-Group Tour: The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland
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