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If you’ve done any research on visiting New Zealand, you’ll quickly find out that the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were filmed here. Die-hard fans are well aware of this fact, and perhaps the sole reason you’re planning a trip to New Zealand is to visit Hobbiton!
The Hobbiton movie set transports you to Middle Earth as you explore the Shire, Hobbit Holes, and all the unique locations of the movies. It has become a staple of the culture and a quintessential New Zealand experience, and is a must-visit whether you’re a fan of the movies or not!
Rotorua is a popular destination for travelers, as there are tons of amazing hot springs and spas, unique Maori culture, and Hobbiton is only an hour away! I’ve personally visited Hobbiton on a day tour from Rotorua before, so I’m here to share my knowledge with you.
To make your planning simple, I’ve put together everything you need to know about visiting Hobbiton from Rotorua. There are even a few day tours that take care of all the details for you, so you can simply enjoy being a Hobbit for a day!
Don’t have time to read the full article? This is the best tour from Rotorua to Hobbiton. It includes transport, lunch, a guided tour of Hobbiton, and has excellent reviews! You really can’t go wrong with this classic choice!
My TOP PICK for a Tour to Hobbiton from Rotorua
If you’re ready to book a tour to Hobbiton right now and don’t have time to read this entire blog, I’ve got you covered! This Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with lunch is my top tour pick! It is a great day trip that takes care of all the details for you. Your guide will drive you to and from Rotorua, and entrance fees are included, as well as lunch! It is a seamless way to explore Hobbiton from Rotorua, and lets you see the Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the mill, and more!
You can reserve this tour in advance here for $259 NZD for adults and $194 NZD for children!
1. About Hobbiton
While the Lord of the Rings books have been around for quite a while, the Shire itself isn’t that old! In the late 1990s, New Lines Cinemas and Sir Peter Jackson were working on bringing the Lord of the Rings book series to life. Jackson knew he wanted to film in New Zealand, his homeland, but was on the hunt for the perfect location.
While J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the famous book series, had never traveled to New Zealand, Sir Peter Jackson and his crew found an area that matched his description of the Shire nearly exactly! It was a farm near Matamata, just two hours south of Auckland, so the production company and the farm struck a deal and the farmland was transformed into the Shire. Perhaps it was always meant to be the Shire!
Once the Lord of the Rings were finished being filmed, the production company planned to tear down Hobbiton. Some of it was taken down, but 17 Hobbit Hole facades remained. Guided tours began in 2002, and while it was popular, it really took off once The Hobbit movies began filming in 2011.
The set was expanded and reconstructed, adding more Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, and my favorite part, the Mill. It made visiting Hobbiton an even more immersive experience where you truly feel like you’ve traveled to Middle Earth.
When you visit Hobbiton, you’ll explore the green pastures of the Shire, see Hobbit Holes, and even grab a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Or, you can be like Pippin and have second breakfast here! Even if you’re not a huge fan of the movies (like me) it is still a really fun place to explore. Not only because the area is beautiful and the architecture is so quirky and cute, but it puts into perspective how much it takes to produce a movie– they literally built a town for it!
You’ll learn a lot on a Hobbiton tour, and have a fun day in the Shire. It’s an absolute must-do activity when visiting New Zealand, whether you’re a LOTR fan or not!
Related Read: If you enjoyed Hobbiton, you’ll surely enjoy Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland! You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects done in LOTR and other films!
2. What are the best tours to Hobbiton from Rotorua?
Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with lunch
This is the best day trip to Hobbiton from Rotorua. Not only does it include a guided tour of the movie set, but also transportation and lunch, so all of the details are taken care of throughout your day!
Your tour will depart from a designated meeting point in Rotorua at 8:15 am, so you can get on the road early! Luckily, Hobbiton is only about an hour away and your tour guide will happily explain the history of the rolling farmland you’ll pass by on your way to the movie set.
Once you arrive at Hobbiton, you’ll take a guided tour all over the set! I really enjoyed having a tour guide because I learned so much about film production. It’s crazy how many people and how much work it takes to make this world come alive. I also appreciated that our tour guide gave us ample time to explore and take photos so we never felt rushed, even with so many quirky sets to check out!
We explored the Hobbit Holes, the Party Tree, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill, and even more structures from the films. Our last stop was lunch at the Green Dragon Inn, which felt so quaint and cozy that I almost forgot I was on a movie set for a second!
The tour will return you to Rotorua at the end of the day, hopefully well-fed, satisfied, and happy to have spent a day in Middle Earth!
This tour lasts for 6.5 hours and includes roundtrip transportation from Rotorua, entrance to Hobbiton, lunch, and your guide. It can be reserved in advance online here for $259 NZD for adults and $194 NZD for children.
Rotorua to Auckland via Hobbiton Movie Set Tour – One Way
Oftentimes travel days can be simply long and uneventful, where you just need to get from point A to point B. However, this Hobbiton tour makes your travel day from Rotorua to Auckland a bit more exciting by taking a stop at the iconic movie set! Hopefully, you’ll get to spend a few days exploring Auckland, but if this is your last stop before flying out, I can’t think of a more “New Zealand” thing to do to end your journey!
The drive from Rotorua to Auckland is about a three-hour drive, with Hobbiton being only 1 hour from Rotorua. This tour will pick you up from select Rotorua hotels, otherwise, you’ll meet at the bus station in town. You’ll leave at 8 am and head to Hobbiton, where you’ll spend a few hours touring the movie set and taking in all of the unique Hobbit sights, such as 44 different Hobbit Holes, Bilbo’s house, and maybe even Samwise Gamgee’s home!
You will also get to check out the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary ale and a lunch buffet. In the end, you’ll have 3-4 hours at Hobbiton, which I think is just the right amount of time. The tour will finish by driving 2 hours north to Auckland where they will drop you off at your Auckland-based hotel.
This tour includes transportation from Rotorua to Auckland, entrance to Hobbiton, a complimentary drink and lunch, $10 spend at the Hobbiton gift shop, and your wonderful guide! This is actually a great tour if you need to get to Auckland anyway, might as well make a fun day out of it!
This tour and transfer is $350 NZD per adult and $195 NZD per child. Dates are limited, so you will want to reserve this tour as far in advance as possible!
Why I Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
3. How far is Hobbiton from Rotorua?
Hobbiton is 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Rotorua. If you rent a car and take a road trip from Auckland to Rotorua, you can take a side trip to reach Hobbiton. But, it is probably easier to just take a day trip from Rotorua, as it is just one hour via State Highway 5 and will give you much more time there!
If you didn’t rent a car or don’t want to worry about driving or the details of the day, taking a tour to Hobbiton from Rotorua is a fantastic option! The tours include a guide who has so much information that it makes the day fly by, and you can even nap on the way home.
4. Why book a tour to Hobbiton from Rotorua?
To visit Hobbiton and explore the movie set, you will need to book a tour no matter what. Unfortunately, they don’t let you wander around by yourself, but I found the guided tours to be very informative. So, since you will be paying for a guided tour at Hobbiton anyways, booking a tour from Rotorua will include transportation and some even include lunch, making the most of your time and money.
Hobbiton is also out of the way on most New Zealand road trips, so it doesn’t make sense to take a detour for one attraction when you can make it a day trip from Rotorua instead. The tours make it an easy thing to do while in Rotorua and since it’s not too far, it will leave plenty of time for other activities when you get back, like soaking in a hot spring!
Visiting Hobbiton can make for a long day, even if it’s just one hour’s drive, so I love taking a tour instead of driving so I can sleep in the car! It’s nice having the transportation taken care of– even if you rent a car in New Zealand, it’s nice to have a break from driving!
5. Is it best to combine your Hobbiton visit with other attractions?
Tauranga is a super cute coastal city, only 50 minutes east of Hobbiton. It is one of my favorite places to visit on the North Island and there is a lot to do in Tauranga. You can take on one of the best hikes in New Zealand like the famous Mount Maunganui, or stop at Wairere Falls on the way. There is also a great road trip from Rotorua to Tauranga that explores the geothermal highway, so I would consider adding this to your itinerary too!
You can also hit Hobbiton on your way back to Auckland from Rotorua, as it’s not too far out of the way! One of these tours transports you from Rotorua to Auckland, with a built-in stop at Hobbiton, so it’s an easy addition if you’re heading to Auckland anyway.
While it’s a great option to combine sights on a day trip to Hobbiton as you really get to see so much of New Zealand, it can make for a very long day! If you have time to spare, I’d recommend making Hobbiton the sole focus of your day trip so it doesn’t feel rushed and you aren’t left feeling exhausted by the end of the day!
Related Read: For alternative option, consider one of the tours from Tauranga to Hobbiton, they are just as popular as the ones from Rotorua.
6. What is the best time of year to visit Hobbiton?
Similar to when you visit New Zealand, there is no “best” or “worst” time of year to visit Hobbiton! You can actually visit Hobbiton every single day of the year, even on Christmas!
My favorite time of year to go is around November in late spring. It is definitely less crowded during this time of year, as peak tourist months are December to February. You’ll get a little cooler weather visiting in late spring, which is actually really nice as there is no shade around Hobbiton! Everything is in bloom this time of year, so it’s quite lovely to see!
Related Read: What better way to explore the North Island than with your own wheels and no schedule to stick to? Renting a campervan is the best way to travel around New Zealand!
7. What to bring on a tour to Hobbiton?
During the summer months, December to February, it actually gets quite hot at Hobbiton! There isn’t shade around, so you’ll definitely want to protect yourself from the sun, whether that’s sunscreen, a lightweight shirt, or a sun umbrella! Lots of people use umbrellas to provide shade for themselves while walking around the set, and while I was a bit taken aback by it at first, it actually makes a lot of sense!
The tour of Hobbiton is long and you’ll be walking around outside the whole time, so bring some water along. Especially during the summer when it’s hot, but it’s nice to have it no matter when you visit. Otherwise, you won’t stop for a drink until the Green Dragon Inn, which isn’t for a couple of hours!
You will be exploring the entire movie set on foot, so you’ll want a good pair of shoes that are comfortable to walk around in! Go for comfort over fashion here, and definitely avoid wearing brand-new shoes or ones that hurt your feet.
8. Is visiting Hobbiton worth it?
Yes, I thought visiting Hobbiton was a super fun experience. This has become a staple of New Zealand’s culture, so you really must experience it! Even though I’m not a huge Lord of the Rings fan, I still really enjoyed exploring Hobbiton. It is a beautiful area and you learn interesting facts about how the movies were made, which made me appreciate how much work went into it! I can only imagine how exciting this experience will be if you’re a big LOTR fan!
Other Things to do While You’re in Rotorua
- Whitewater rafting – One of the best places to go whitewater rafting in New Zealand is in Rotorua! Here, you can choose from a variety of rafting tours, with the most famous being this one that features the 7-meter waterfall drop! That’s right, you’ll actually raft over a waterfall – Tutea Falls – which is the world’s largest commercially rafted waterfall (that’s bragging rights for sure!) The tour costs $115 NZD and lasts for about 2 hours.
- Relax in Hot Pools – Rotorua, like Taupo, is known for all of its hot pools (hot springs.) Secret Hot Pools is my favorite because you get your very own private hot pool surrounded by lush forests. If you want a cheaper option, The Polynesian Spa is also very nice and the public pools are well worth visiting. Plus, the location is also very convenient in downtown Rotorua – you can enjoy views of the lake right from the pools!
- Government Gardens – Take a walk through the beautiful Government Gardens right on the edge of the lake in Rotorua’s downtown. The flowers here are stunning and it’s a nice place to stroll around and take photos.
- Maori Experience – Rotorua is an amazing place to learn about the Māori people and culture. Spend a night at the Mitai Maori Village cultural experience where you will get introduced to the Maori culture with performances including weaponry displays and a traditional Hangi feast cooked in an underground oven.
Where to Stay in Rotorua
While you can’t sleep in a cozy Hobbit Hole, Rotorua has some very nice places to stay! What’s great about this area is all the choices for accommodations – whether you are backpacking on a budget or looking for a luxurious place to call home for a few nights. These are my top picks for every budget!
Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua – $
Rock Solid Backpackers Rotorua is one of the budget-friendly hotels centrally located in the city within walking distance of many Rotorua attractions like Government Gardens and the Polynesian Spa. It is a perfect fit for travelers with a tight budget where rooms in a shared dorm of four to eight people start at only $47 NZD per night. If you don’t want to share, there are private rooms available as well around the $100 NZD mark.
You can save money on meals by using the communal kitchen here complete with cooking facilities and there’s a spacious guest lounge where you can hang out. If you’re in the mood for a more challenging activity, head to the 20-meter (65-foot) rock-climbing wall next door which offers guests staying here a discounted rate.
Another convenience at the hostel is the on-site tour desk. There you can inquire and ask for help as you organize your Rotorua activities for the day.
Thermal Oak Motel – $$
If more rooms and spacious accommodations are what you’re looking for, you’ll find them at Thermal Oak Motel. The motel offers modern suites and high-quality units with free parking and Wi-Fi. The choices range from deluxe studios to a three-bedroom flat house, with rates from $180 NZD up to $600 NZD per night.
All accommodations are complete with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a fully-equipped kitchenette, and a large modern bathroom with a walk-in shower. There’s also a dining area available in most of the rooms, including the executive two-bedroom unit (which also has a private outdoor spa pool).
Besides the rooms, you can go for a dip in one of the two public mineral spa pools. Another advantage is the convenient access to the city center, which is only a 10-minute walk away. This means you can enjoy the activities and sights of Rotorua downtown anytime you please.
Reserve a room on Booking.com!
Rydges Rotorua – $$$
For a more luxurious stay in Rotorua, Rydges Rotorua offers a scenic view and a relaxing atmosphere located on the edge of Redwoods Forest and overlooking the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Reserve and Historical Village.
Choose between a superior or deluxe room, which each features air conditioning, comfy beds, and cable TV with free movies. If you’re looking for something a little extra, you can book a private suite instead. Accommodation rates start from $242 NZD per night.
Start your morning with a visit to the on-site gym or a swim in the heated outdoor swimming pool. You can also drop by the hotel’s award-winning restaurant and bar that offers modern New Zealand cuisine. Then, spend the day exploring the mountains by bike. If you bring your own mountain bike, they have secure storage for it inside the hotel and a bike washing station.
Anything for the little ones? Yes! Rydges Rotorua houses a Play Zone with various games for children of all ages, including table tennis, foosball, Nintendo Switch, air hockey, and more.
You can reserve your room on Booking.com
Related Read: Not far from Rotorua and another totally unique experience, you’ll discover glow worms! Read here to find out everything you need to know before visiting the Waitomo Caves so you can see the bioluminescent glory!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
- JUCY – JUCY is one of our favorite rental companies in New Zealand! They have a huge inventory and offer regular cars, small campervans, larger campervans, and even motorhomes! The prices are also super competitive and their multiple offices around NZ make pick-up and drop-off a breeze. You can check availability, prices, and book with JUCY online here.
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
I hope this guide has gotten you excited to visit Hobbiton! Since it is only one hour from Rotorua, it makes for a great day trip and totally easy to fit into your North Island itinerary. I had so much fun visiting Hobbiton that I went back for a second time and brought my mom, too! It will be especially worthwhile for those who are big LOTR fans and can be fun for those who aren’t either. It’s simply a great way to spend a day around Rotorua!
If you found this blog helpful, be sure to check out my other North Island blogs! I have a range of activities for any traveler, from epic hikes to the best eateries and my favorite beaches– I am excited to share all of my favorite places!