I always find it amusing what people associate with different countries. The United Kingdom is reduced to London, France is all wine, cheese, and beautiful Paris, and as of late New Zealand has been known as the land of the hobbits. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, New Zealand is a must stop for you.
Located just outside of Matamata, a town about 3 hours by bus from Auckland, Hobbiton rests on the Alexander Farm, the last sheep farm in the area. Having seen all of the movies and read all of the books, to say that I was excited about visiting Hobbiton is an understatement. I was stoked! Sitting at the top of my must-see list here in New Zealand, I am happy to report that visiting the Shire is quite incredible.
I admit, the tour may seem a little artificial with a guide and people all around. They do not allow you to freely walk around on your own and explore. The timing was a little rushed as well with the groups being spread out 10 minutes apart so you never really got far enough away to really appreciate everything without feeling at least a little rushed. But the time you have their is special. Not to mention you get a free drink at the Green Dragon pub at the end of the tour!
Looking around, it is not hard to see why Peter Jackson chose this one specific spot to film. Lush rolling green hills, mountains in the background, you can perfectly envision what he was seeing in his mind. As told by our guide, Peter Jackson apparently had 11 out of 12 site locations picked out but when he saw the Alexander farm he knew this had everything he would need for the film and canceled filming for all other sites. How lucky was the Alexander family?
Funny enough, the film site was never meant to be a major tourist attraction. In the contract that the Alexander family signed with Peter Jackson they were supposed to take everything down and clean it up as if the filming had never happened. Luckily, a storm came through with delayed the breakdown of the set for 3 months. At that point, neighbors found out that the films were shot their and they wanted to see. Thus, Hobbiton became a leading tourist attraction for New Zealand. Again, how lucky was the Alexander family that that storm came through?
The Shire is every bit as beautiful as it looks in the movies if not more and it is definitely worth the money to come see if you are a fan of the films/books. Or even if you’re not, approximately 30% of the visitors to Hobbiton have never seen a movie or read a book. Pretty impressive! So go see this amazing set and fall in love with everything you see!