Hobbits, Orcs, and all sorts of magic await…
Since the release of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ in 2012, the very first movie in the Hobbit trilogy, Middle Earth has captured the world’s imagination. Only in New Zealand do you have the chance to actually set foot in the rich fantasy world that J.R.R Tolkien crafted decades ago.
Green Dragon Inn
The Hobbit films are the brainchild of Sir Peter Jackson, the Academy Award-winning director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, who is a Wellington local. Filming of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel, first published in 1937, began in Wellington in March 2011, with filming taking place in locations throughout New Zealand for the following 16 months. Not since The Lord of the Rings has New Zealand’s beautiful scenery been showcased on the big screen, and never before in high-definition 3D. With a worldwide audience exceeding hundreds of millions, interest in the country as a result of The Hobbit trilogy has been unprecedented. In 2018, Hobbiton received 3,500 visitors per day during peak season, contributing $78 million in economic benefit to the region.
Hobbiton Movie Set
Step into the Hobbit’s World …
But with the secrecy that surrounded filming, the challenge for Hobbit-mad visitors is working out where they can see the locations that have mesmerised them on the big screen. Ian Brodie’s Lord Of The Rings Location Guidebook is the official and definitive guide for that trilogy, with maps, directions, GPS coordinates and, in the extended edition, photographs and images from the movies. Brodie has also released The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy Location Guidebook, published with HarperCollins and available in all leading book retailers.
For those struggling to pinpoint locations where their favourite scenes were filmed, there are several tour operators such as Red Carpet Tours and GreatSights who take groups on trips ranging between 1 to 14 days long featuring spots such as ‘Mordor’ (or the Tongariro Alpine Crossing), Trollshaw Forest, Pelennor Fields, the fortress of Isengard, filmed near Glenorchy, close to Queenstown, and, of course, where it all begins: Hobbiton.
Green Dragon Inn
Visitors to Hobbiton, New Zealand’s third largest tourist destination located near Matamata in the Waikato region, are taken on daily guided tours of the movie sets. The Shire with its Hobbit holes, gardens, bridge and mill, has been lovingly reproduced. All tours stop at the Green Dragon Inn to sample a Hobbit Ale, and end at the Shire’s Rest cafe and shop, where a wide range of official merchandise is available. Four times a week Hobbiton put on Evening Banquet Tours for the hungry traveller. Beginning with a guided tour through The Shire at dusk, you'll hear fascinating stories and anecdotes about the trilogies. The tour concludes at The Green Dragon Inn where you will be treated to a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit.
Not too far from Matamata is another famous Hobbit filming location – Hairy Feet Tours take you on an adventure through the Mangaotaki Valley Farm near Piopio, where you can have your photo taken standing in the exact spot where Bilbo received his magical sword, “Sting”, from Gandalf.
Want to live like a real hobbit? Experience ‘Underhill Valley Earth Hut’, an authentic hobbit-style house in Whatawhata, about 10 minutes drive from Hamilton. Cook over a fire stove, shower in a cave, and relax by candle-light in a uniquely off-grid paradise that Bilbo himself would be proud of.