Like a lot of backpackers that come to New Zealand, visiting Hobbiton and seeing the set of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films was on the top of my bucket list. Especially seeing as I am a film graduate and also have a family full of LOTR fans, to make jealous back home.
I had kept a special stash of cash to one side just so I could jump on one of the Hobbiton tours and if you’re a LOTR or Hobbit fan, I would highly recommend you go and pay a visit!
Getting to Hobbiton
I was pretty lucky in that I was already travelling through New Zealand on the Kiwi Experience bus, so Hobbiton was one of the excursions they took you on and organised to bring you back from. It meant that I had to do very little planning to get myself to the Hobbiton tourist centre.
The drive there was a bit confusing, because you are basically driving out to a huge mass of rolling green hills, but no visible sign of the Hobbit holes anywhere. It’s not until you round a corner on a main road and see the main visitor centre that you start to feel that excited buzz.
If you aren’t travelling on the Kiwi bus, then you can drive in (there is a car park you can use). It’s about 2hrs away from Auckland, 45 mins from Rotorua, 45 mins from Tauranga and 45 mins from Hamilton, so there are plenty of places you can stay.
If you don’t have a car, then Hobbiton tours do offer transfers from the main cities and towns surrounding it. Just make sure to check on their website first!
How much does the Hobbiton tour cost?
It’s not cheap, but then again, I don’t mind paying when the money goes to keeping this amazing place in tip-top shape. When you hear about how much work went into making it and how much work has to still be done to maintain it, the price makes a bit more sense.
I did the normal movie set tour, which put me back by about $84, but there are a few different tours that include things like food and even night tours.
What do you do when you get there?
You get dropped off (or arrive if you have driven yourself) at the main visitors centre, this is where you buy or pick up your tickets, use the bathroom and even enjoy a nice cuppa and a sandwich if you are so inclined.
We had already had our tickets booked for us by the bus driver, so all we had to do was pay and wait for our time slot. There a few different slots and you’ll have to line up in a sort of bus shelter thing to get on your little mini bus. This mini bus then takes you out to the set, which is in the middle of a huge farmers field.
Hobbiton itself is pretty invisible until you are right there in it. The Hobbit holes are perfectly disguised in the hills and you can’t see anything from the road leading up to it.
As you make your way there, they whack on a little video giving you a behind the scenes look at the films and how they made the set. They also talk to some of the cast and crew about what it was like working at the Hobbiton set and why they decided to make it a permanent feature.
Is Hobbiton worth visiting?
So here’s where it gets tricky. Hobbiton isn’t actually that big, you couldn’t really spend a whole day there, maybe just over half a day would do, to be able to see and experience everything.
As it’s so small, I wouldn’t recommend it for those that are not a fan of the films or books. For those of you that are not LOTR or Hobbit fans, it might be a bit lost on you. However, if you’re a big movie fan and love seeing how movies and more specifically, the sets are made, then I would give it a go.
The craftsmanship that has gone into making this small village is unbelievable. There is a huge tree above Bag End that is completely fake and the painstaking detail that went into making it actually mad me shudder a little. Things like hand painted leaves and having to repaint the hand painted leaves was just too much for me to handle.
I would have liked a little bit longer to just go around on my own, as you have a tour guide with you every minute you are there. There is so much detail that you really do need to get up close to (where allowed). I would have also liked a little bit longer in the Green Dragon, where I had one of the tastiest ciders I’ve ever had. They have basically made it like a classic, working British pub, so I felt right at home.
I’d definitely go again, I’d love to take family and friends just to see their reactions! If I could live there, it would be the most perfect place.