Perhaps no movie set in the world is more famous and sought after than the Hobbiton Movie Set. New Zealand is perhaps the only country that people want to visit just to tour a movie set. The Hobbiton Movie Set is located just south of Auckland (that has been voted the top city in the world to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet).

The movie set was the location for filming the scenes of the Shire in both The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and subsequent The Hobbit film trilogy. And today it is a must for anyone entranced by the charm of the Shire and the mystic of Middle Earth.

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The Short Behind The Hobbiton Movie Set

The Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, first saw the farm during an aerial search for suitable locations to film his upcoming trilogy. He concluded that this area was "like a slice of ancient England". He then negotiated with the owners of the farm and transformed a part of the farm into sets for Hobbiton and the Shire.

Even the New Zealand Army (yes New Zealand actually has a small army) brought in heavy equipment to build an access road. A total of 37 facades for the hobbit holes were built along with the gardens and hedges, the 26-tonne (29-ton) oak above Bag End, and other aspects of the set.

The sheer popularity of the movie set from the unprecedented was not anticipated and the first Hobbiton movie set was not built to last. The hobbit hole facades were built from untreated timber, ply, and polystyrene and were partially torn down after filming.

  • First Set: Not Built To Last - Only Built For Filming

With the second trilogy for The Hobbit, the movie set was rebuilt, but this time as a permanent tourist attraction.

  • Second Set: Built For The Hobbit And As a Permanent Attraction

Hobbiton is located on a family-run sheep farm with around 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle.

  • Sheep Farm: Hobbiton Is On A 1,250 acre Sheep Farm
  • Ranch: In New Zealand, the Term "Farm" Is Used Instead of "Ranch"

Related: New Zealand Holiday Guide, The North Island: How To Plan The Perfect Vacation

What To Expect At Hobbiton

"In the heart of the Mighty Waikato region, you can explore the lush pastures of the Shire™ with a guided walking tour of Hobbiton™, as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies."

Hobbiton Movie Set

Today one of the most popular activities is to take guided tours of the 14-acre Hobbiton Movie Set with their two-hour excursions being very popular.

Tour Highlights: 

  • Bagshot Row
  • The Party Tree 
  • Bilbo's Bag End Home

One can go into a few of the hobbit holes (there are now 44 of them) - although the interior shots were actually filmed in a movie studio in Wellington. The Hobbit holes have been built in three sizes for filming illusion purposes:

  • Correct Sizes Holes: The Smallest Ones For The Hobbits
  • Larger Holes: To Make The Hobbit Actors Look Smaller
  • "Dwarf" Scale Holes: For Scenes With Dwarves

Related: Why The Bay Of Islands In New Zealand Is Worth Visiting And What To Do When You Get There

Visiting The Hobbiton Movie Set

Before and after the tour, visitors can enjoy refreshments at "The Shires Rest Cafe", they serve breakfast and "Second Breakfast." There is also the "Green Dragon" inn to dine in.

  • Advanced Bookings: Booking In Advance Is Recommended
  • Open: 7 Days A Week

The movie set is open 7 days a week and their Hobbiton Movie Set Tour From The Shire's Rest departs at least 3 times daily.

They offer a number of tours including their

  • Evening Banquet Tour
  • Second Break Tour
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Evening Banquet Tour

Embark on this tour at dusk while making the most of the remaining daylight go on a tour through the site. After the tour, arrive at The Green Dragon Inn with a complimentary beverage from their exclusive Hobbit Southfarthing range.

  • Duration: 4 Hours
  • Cost: $199.00 NZD ($135 USD) Adult (17 years and above)

After that, enjoy a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit. The tables will be heaving with traditional Hobbit fare and, as is the tradition in the Shire, second helpings are encouraged. After the premium experience, make one's way back through the wandering paths of The Shire that will be illuminated by path lighting and handheld lanterns.

Evening Banquet Tour Includes:

  • Fully Guided Tour of The Set
  • First Hobbit Southfarthing Beverage 
  • Two-Course Banquet
  • Lantern-Lit Walk Through Hobbiton Under Moonlight

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

This is their most popular tour and departs at least three to five times daily from 9.30 am.

  • Duration: 2 Hours
  • When: At Least 3-5 Times A Day From 9.30 am
  • Cost: $89.00 NZD ($60 USD) Adult (17 years and above)

Next: Tour Companies Are Already Offering LOTR Tours In New Zealand (In Anticipation Of The New Series)