Ever since The Lord of the Rings movies took the world by storm, there's one thing that has been on every fan's mind: visiting New Zealand and, by extension, Hobbiton. Of course, for most people around the world, getting to this Pacific island is no easy feat. For those who live in New Zealand, or at least within a reasonable flying distance, it's a possibility. However, let's say that anyone was able to visit Hobbiton, anytime they wanted - what would one need to know before becoming one with the Hobbitses?
It might even be a bucket destination for all those reading this article, which means that you're in the right place. When it comes to dreaming about a land far, far away, Hobbiton certainly fits the bill, and it does live up to the hype. When you get the chance to go, this is what you should know before booking the first park tour.
Getting To Hobbiton
Despite the impression that many people might be under, while much of the movies were filmed in obscure and somewhat remote locations, Hobbiton is located only two hours from the main city of Auckland. Specifically, in Matamata. It's located only one hour from Rotorua, which is another gorgeous New Zealand destination. Therefore, no matter which one a traveler chooses for their lodging accommodations, they'll be within hours of this fun movie set.
Driving in New Zealand isn't something that many visitors opt for, however, this might end up being the more affordable option. Other options include hopping on a guided tour shuttle which will take visitors straight to Hobbiton and back, for a fee. The third option is to take the bus to Matamata which is probably the most affordable (in New Zealand terms) at $50-$60 NZD. However, it should be noted that taking the bus from Auckland will require a total of 3.5 hours of drive time, so it takes quite a large chunk out of the day.
Arriving & What To Know About The Tour
Just arriving at Hobbiton is an exciting experience. Guests will be taken to the entrance and shouldn't be confused if they don't spot all those tiny houses yet - this is only the Hobbiton entrance, and guests are required to check-in before boarding a second shuttle (if you came to Hobbiton in one). This short shuttle ride takes guests straight to Alexander Farm and while it's tempting to immediately jump on a tour, there's something else visitors should do, first. The gift shop is located here and is definitely worth a peruse prior to leaving, as well as a cafe and bathrooms. Jen on a Jet Plane advises using all three before starting the tour.
One thing to note about touring Hobbiton is that while guided tours are optional, there's only one way to see the actual movie set - and that's by paying for a tour. These aren't cheap but are well worth the price at $84 NZD per adult, $42 NZD per child. If a child is under the age of 8, they're allowed to take the tour at no cost. It's best to get in on the earlier tours as the book up faster toward the end of the day, with the last tour ending at 3:30 PM and the first starting at 9:30 AM. Since the tour itself takes two hours to complete, visitors will have plenty of time to explore all of Hobbiton and get in the photo ops that give the rest of the world serious FOMO. The guides are perhaps the best part of the tour, though; each one is knowledgeable in not only the area but the movies and the scenes that took place on each part of the set. They add a level of fun and excitement to what's already a thrilling New Zealand tour.
What To Do At Hobbiton Afterward
Following the tour, guests are brought to the Green Dragon Inn. After all that walking, everyone is rewarded with a drink of their choice (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) while they take in the merry amusement of the atmosphere and setting that's been created specifically for Hobbiton. This is also where guests have the chance to order some food if they haven't already, all while enjoying the views throughout the entirety of Hobbiton, which you've just explored.
At this point, guests who haven't visited the gift shop could circle back and make the stop - however, expect it to be crowded as more late-day tours come in. For those who signed up for a tour shuttle, Hobbiton may only be the first stop on the list, as the shuttles in the area also go to nearby Waitomo Glowworm Caves.