Middle Earth exists and it can be found on New Zealand’s North Island on a sheep farm that has been transformed into a place called Hobbiton.
Walking into Hobbiton is like walking into the fantasy world that the wildly popular Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies depict. Located just two hours south of Auckland near the town of Matamata, Hobbiton is the world left behind when the filming of the movies were completed.
The Middle Earth movie set is at the heart of what is still a working sheep and beef farm owned by the Alexander family. In 1998, Director Peter Jackson spotted their land and its rolling hills while doing an aerial site survey for movie locations. Among the things which made the farm so appealing were its remote location and the fact that it includes a massive pine tree strategically set near a lake. That tree has become known as the “party tree.”
Hundreds of film workers and production personnel came to New Zealand and called the Alexander’s farm home for three years at a time during the filming of the two trilogies. As soon as the Lord of the Rings movies were completed, people began tuning up to see where the magic had been created and the Alexanders gamely started giving tours. After the second movies, the Alexanders decided they needed to take the tours more seriously and “Hobbiton” was born.
The first sets were temporary and made of Styrofoam but when the Lord of the Rings proved so popular and the Hobbit movies were planned, more durable structures were built in the Shire. In fact new homes are being constructed but there is no comment as to whether that means more movies.
Most of the Hobbit 24 hole homes are simply fronts, but Bilbo Baggins’ home can actually be entered because cameras needed to be able to shoot him looking out the door and over the Shire. Gardeners tend Hobbiton regularly and it is filled with flowers and vegetables which grow year round.
You truly expect to see Hobbits Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Pippin and Merry come running down the lane at any time.
Visitors register for tours at The Shire’s Rest store and ticket office up the road from the actual farm. The guided tours last for two hours and wind you through the 12 acre site, ending at the Green Dragon Tavern located across the lake from the Shire. Libation and meals are available there and it’s a great place to round out the tour.
Children 4 and under are free. Children 5-9 = $10 (NZ), Youth 10-14 = $37.50 (NZ) and adults pay $75 (NZ). Tours can be booked through Hobbiton's website:
501 Buckland Rd
Matamata, New Zealand
Tel: 64 7-888 9913