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There are many famous sights of New Zealand, from the Waitomo Caves glow worms to the Franz Josef Glacier and gorgeous cities like Auckland. However, I think the most famous sight is the Hobbiton movie set.
Any Lord of the Ring fan is already aware that the movies were filmed in New Zealand, so visiting the movie set is a bucket-list experience! Even for those who aren’t die-hard fans, like myself, visiting Hobbiton is a pretty cool experience. The set is quirky and cute, and you feel like you’re in the movies as you explore the Shire, Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, and more!
You can easily visit Hobbiton while staying in nearby Tauranga. It is only an hour away and one of the best things to do in Tauranga, amongst many other things!
Having visited Hobbiton twice now, I can confidently say that the easiest way to do so is by taking a tour of Hobbiton from Tauranga. To help your planning process, I’ve put together the best tours out of Tauranga and everything you need to know before visiting Hobbiton so that you can enjoy a day in the Shire!
Don’t have time to read the full article? If you’re looking for an excellent tour to Hobbiton from Tauranga, you can’t go wrong with this specific one! It includes everything you will need and has excellent reviews!
My TOP PICK for a Tour to Hobbiton from Tauranga
If you don’t have enough time to read this blog and want to jump on booking a Hobbiton tour from Tauranga, let me cut to the chase! This 6-hour Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is my top pick, it includes entrance to Hobbiton, as well as stops at McLaren Falls Park and Mount Maunganui Beach. Oh, and you get a free pint at the Green Dragon Inn– even better! This tour is $199 NZD for adults and can be booked online here!
1. About Hobbiton
Hobbiton came about thanks to the partnership of New Line Cinema and Sir Peter Jackson. In the late 1990s, the film production company wanted to make movie adaptations of the Lord of the Rings books, which were published in the 1930s and written by J.R.R. Tolkien. The director, Sir Peter Jackson, was a New Zealand native and was looking for a location here to film the movies.
While Tolkien had never been to New Zealand, his description of the Shire matched the landscape of the North Island perfectly. In fact, Sir Peter Jackson found a nearly exact description at a farm near Matamata, about two hours south of Auckland. New Line Cinemas struck a deal with the farm, the land was purchased, and the Shire began its construction!
Once the Lord of the Rings movies were finished shooting, they planned to demolish Hobbiton. Some of the movie set was torn down, but 17 Hobbit Holes remained and tours of the set began in 2002.
Good thing they didn’t completely tear down the Shire because it was used once again to film The Hobbit movies starting in 2011! The popularity of Hobbiton grew even more after the trilogy was released, and new elements to Hobbiton were added, like the Green Dragon Inn and 44 Hobbit Holes!
Now, Hobbiton is a huge attraction for those visiting New Zealand, and visiting Middle Earth has become an even more immersive experience! When you tour Hobbiton, you’ll experience the rolling green pastures of the Shire, see the Hobbit Holes and the Mill, and dine at the Green Dragon Inn! You can even rent out the Mill or the Green Dragon Inn for events, such as weddings for die-hard fans!
It is really a unique experience to see what all goes into creating a movie, I mean they built an entire town here! The production process is quite impressive, and I had so much fun exploring the quirky set. I’m not even that big of a LOTR fan, so I can imagine how exciting this must be for true fans!
Related Read: To continue diving into the creation of Lord of the Rings, be sure to check out Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland!
2. What are the best tours to Hobbiton from Tauranga?
Hobbiton Transport & Tauranga Highlights Excursion
This full-day tour to Hobbiton from Tauranga is great for those looking to see more than just Hobbiton in one day. It includes a stop at McLaren Falls Park, just 10 minutes outside of Tauranga and on the way to Hobbiton. Keep in mind that this tour does not include entry to Hobbiton, but you’ll have a local guide to give an excellent commentary the whole time, and you get to see more sights!
This tour will meet at Port Tauranga at 8 am and head straight for Hobbiton! Your guide, Steve, is a local and loves sharing about the history and culture of the Tauranga area.
Once you arrive at Hobbiton and purchase your entrance ticket, you’ll switch to one of their official guides and spend three hours touring the movie set. You’ll see the Shire and Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill, and more on this tour. You will have a bit of time to enjoy the area on your own as well.
I definitely recommend grabbing lunch at the Green Dragon Inn– they have a great menu!
After Hobbiton, you’ll stop at McLaren Falls Park for one hour. Here you can explore a little bit of the massive 190-hectare (470-acre) park, and enjoy the falls, wildlife, and natural beauty! This is one of my favorite outside areas near Tauranga, so I love that this tour incorporates it into the itinerary. The tour will end by dropping you off at Port Tauranga around 4 pm.
This tour includes roundtrip transportation from Tauranga, a snack, and your local guide, but doesn’t include entrance to Hobbiton. Entrance to Hobbiton is $89 NZD for adults, $44 NZD for kids 9-16, and free for kids 8 and under, so be sure to have extra cash or your card on you! This tour is $117 NZD for adults and youth, and $100 NZD for kids 8 and younger.
Related Read: If you’re doing a Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand, be sure to stop at Glenorchy! This is another iconic film location, read all about Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours here!
6hr Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
This 6-hour tour is my top pick for visiting Hobbiton from Tauranga! Of course, the main highlight of the day is checking out Hobbiton, but I love that this tour also makes stops at Mount Maunganui Beach and McLaren Falls Park so you can experience the absolute most of Tauranga.
This tour meets at Port Tauranga and keeps the group small with just 12 travelers. You will get to explore Mount Maunganui Beach, one of the best beaches in New Zealand, and have a gorgeous scenic drive on your way to Hobbiton.
Once you reach Hobbiton, you will have a 2 hour guided tour of the Shire and learn all about the film creation process. You’ll have lunch and a free beer at the Green Dragon Inn– the perfect way to end your time in the Shire!
On the way back to Tauranga, the tour stops at the gorgeous McLaren Falls Park. It’s a quick 30-minute stop, but just enough time to take in the iconic waterfall and park. If you have time in your Tauranga itinerary, I highly recommend coming back here to see the glow worms at night!
This day is full, but will be so much fun! It includes round-trip transportation from Tauranga, entrance to Hobbiton, your local guide, and a free drink. You’ll want to have some extra cash on hand for lunch and souvenirs. Otherwise, everything is taken care of for you on this tour! You can reserve this tour in advance for $199 NZD for adults and $159 NZD for children.
Magical Hobbiton Movie Set – Private Tour
If you’re traveling around New Zealand via cruise ship and making a stop in Tauranga, this is the perfect Hobbiton tour for you! While time is often limited on shore, this tour will help you maximize your day by providing roundtrip transportation from Tauranga to Hobbiton. It is a private tour, which means you won’t have to wait for other travelers to get off the cruise ship and you can head straight to Hobbiton!
Because this tour is built specifically for cruise ship passengers, the tour is coordinated around port transfer and ship arrival times. These tour guides have picked up hundreds of travelers from Port Tauranga, so they know exactly where to meet you with your name on a sign to make the transfer as easy as possible.
You will then take the hour drive to Hobbiton, where your local guide will be telling the history of Tauranga and its beautiful landscape along the way. Once you get to Hobbiton, you will have to pay the admission fees, which are $89 NZD for adults, $44 NZD for kids 9-16, and free for kids 8 and under. But the extra cost is worth it as you explore the Shire, the Party Tree, the Mill, and more!
You will stop for lunch at the Green Dragon Inn (at your own expense). All in all, you’ll have a 2 hour guided tour of Hobbiton, plus an hour or so for lunch and relaxing in this beautiful place!
Your driver will be waiting for you when you’re done at Hobbiton and will return you to your cruise ship, right on time!
This is a great way to get out and explore Tauranga and Hobbiton in a quick day trip. It is especially perfect for those cruise ship passengers wanting to explore one of New Zealand’s greatest treasures. This tour includes transportation and your local guide for $1,041 NZD for a group of 4 people. It doesn’t include admission to Hobbiton or lunch, so be aware of the extra expense!
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 Tauranga?
Hobbiton is 58 kilometers (36 miles) from Tauranga and a straight shot via State Highway 29. If you rent a car or campervan, you can drive to Hobbiton from Tauranga in about 45 minutes. It is also along the way if you are taking a road trip from Auckland to Tauranga, but that makes for a long day as you’ll want a few hours at Hobbiton!
That’s why I think the best option is to take a day trip from Tauranga. To make it even simpler, you can take a Hobbiton tour from Tauranga, which takes out any planning, driving, or stress of the day! You can simply enjoy the ride while someone else drives, and they also give a lot of information about the area along the way.
4. Why book a tour to Hobbiton from Tauranga?
Tours to Hobbiton from Tauranga often include other perks or take care of the logistical details of your day, making it a simpler day trip for you. Many people stop in Port Tauranga from a cruise ship, which in that case, you won’t have transportation to get to Hobbiton, so a tour makes it possible for you to see this iconic New Zealand sight!
You’ll also have to pay for a guided tour at Hobbiton anyway, so most tours will include admission to the movie set in the tour price. This small group tour includes transportation from Tauranga, entrance to Hobbiton with a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn at the end of the tour, and a visit to McLaren Falls Park and Mount Maunganui! So you’re getting much more than just entrance to Hobbiton.
You’ll be on your feet for hours, often in the hot sun, so visiting Hobbiton is actually a bit of a tiring experience! I appreciate having a tour so I don’t have to worry about driving and can just enjoy the day. Regardless of how you choose to visit Hobbiton from Tauranga, you’ll be in for a fun time!
5. Is it best to combine your Hobbiton visit with other attractions?
Yes, you can easily combine your visit to Hobbiton with a stop at McLaren Falls Park and Rotorua. Since you’ll be out and about, you might as well tick a few of New Zealand’s best attractions off your list!
McLaren Falls Park is one of the best places to visit in Tauranga and is only 15 minutes outside of the city on your way to Hobbiton! If you visit during the day, you can see one of the best waterfalls in New Zealand on the Waterfall Track. But, if you visit after the sun goes down you can also see glow worms lighting up this same hiking track! It’s easy, so it’s okay to do at night, plus the glow worms are bioluminescent and light up the world around you– it’s pretty spectacular!
You can also make a stop at Rotorua which is about 1 hour from Hobbiton and 1 hour from Tauranga. Rotorua is a small town that is known for its rich Maori culture and geothermal activity in mud pools, geysers, and amazing hot springs and spas. If you don’t make it here on a day trip from Hobbiton, you can make it your next stop and drive a mini road trip from Tauranga to Rotorua.
I recommend choosing a tour that combines some of these attractions, luckily both of the tours listed below include stops at Mclaren Falls Park! It’s a great way to see some more of the beautiful New Zealand sights. However, this definitely makes for a longer day, so if you’re traveling with children or get tired quickly, it might just be best to focus on Hobbiton!
6. What is the best time of year to visit Hobbiton?
The great thing about Hobbiton is that you can visit any day of the year, even Christmas Day! There are no days off at the Shire, so no matter when you visit New Zealand, you can make a stop at Hobbiton.
Even though you can visit all year, my favorite time to visit is in the late spring, around November! It is quieter as that is right before the main tourist season (December to February) and it’s also cooler. It can get rather hot while walking around Hobbiton as there isn’t any shade, so visiting in the spring rather than the summer will bring about some more comfortable weather. Plus, everything is in bloom at this time of year so it’s quite lovely to see!
Related Read: My favorite way to explore the North Island is by renting a campervan in Auckland! This allows you to get off the beaten path and see all the hidden wonders of New Zealand.
7. What to bring on a tour to Hobbiton?
As I said before, Hobbiton gets rather hot during the summer, and without shade, you’ll definitely want to protect yourself from the hot sun! It’s best to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. I even saw people using an umbrella for shade, which was strange at first glance but actually makes total sense!
The tour is quite long and there aren’t any water stops along the way, so you’ll want to bring some along. This is important during those hot summer months, but it’s a smart move no matter what time of year you visit. You’ll stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a pint at the end of the tour, but best to hydrate along the way!
You’ll be walking the entire Hobbiton tour, so it will be an easy way to get your steps in for the day! I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking. Avoid wearing the cutest and most uncomfortable shoes you packed, and keep comfort as the main idea here!
Related Read: There are also some excellent tours to Hobbiton that leave from Rotorua – read about them all!
8. Is visiting Hobbiton worth it?
Yes, I had such a good time visiting Hobbiton! The Lord of the Rings movies are iconic and have become a staple in New Zealand’s culture, so it’s a must-visit.
Even though I’m not the biggest LOTR fan, I still loved exploring the beautiful set. I learned so much about how the movies were made, what all goes into building a set, and the film production industry as a whole. It was really fascinating, I can only imagine how impactful an experience visiting Hobbiton is for big-time fans!
Other Things to do While You’re in Tauranga
- Swim with dolphins- If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list– you’re in luck! You can take this dolphin cruise from Tauranga for not only some epic sightseeing but also get a chance to get in the water and swim with dolphins in their natural habitat! This 6-hour memorable experience is $150 NZD for adults and $119 NZD for kids.
- Go whitewater rafting- Only 50 minutes from Tauranga is the best spot for whitewater rafting in New Zealand! This white water rafting adventure takes you over a waterfall, through 14 rapids, and by jungle canyons! This epic adventure is $125 NZD for those 13 and up.
- Visit the Strand- To find the main hub of activity in Tauranga, be sure to hit the Strand! Here, you’ll find shopping, gorgeous riverfront views, and tons of eateries! If you’re looking for a romantic night out and a delicious meal, stop by the Harbourside Restaurant– I can’t decide which is better, the food or the views!
- Check out the Thermal Explorer Highway- Tauranga sits right on the geothermal highway, a series of geysers, mud baths, and natural hot springs that have been notable since early Maori times! This stretches from Tauranga to Rotorua, so it’s best explored by taking a Highlights of Rotorua Tour so you can stop at multiple geothermal-related places. You’ll really soak into this part of New Zealand culture!
- Hike up Mount Maunganui- Easily one of the best hikes in New Zealand, Mount Maunganui is a must-visit! Only 10 minutes from Tauranga, this hike takes about 30 minutes to summit and gives breathtaking views of the Bay of Plenty below. It’s well worth the effort to reach the top (don’t worry, it’s not too bad)!
Where to Stay in Tauranga, NZ
While you can’t sleep in the Shire, Tauranga has plenty of good options! Whether you’re a backpacker making your way across the North Island or looking for more upscale accommodations for a night or two, Tauranga has you covered.
These are my top picks that fit a variety of budgets.
Wanderlust NZ – $
This waterfront hostel has million-dollar views of the harbor but without breaking the bank! Wanderlust NZ has a huge balcony overlooking the harbor and the historic building has been recently renovated. There are two shared kitchens to cook in, a lounge area, and a wide variety of rooms.
You can opt for the typical bunk bed in a shared room for around $45 NZD or upgrade to a private room for $130 NZD. The location is perfect and fills up fast, so book your room on Booking.com or HostelWorld.com quickly!
ASURE Harbour View Motel – $$
Have the beach and water views right out your front door at ASURE Harbour View Motel. The property is beautiful with a cobbled courtyard and a BBQ area to enjoy. You’re close to the harbor and center of Tauranga.
The rooms here are elegantly decorated and more like mini-apartments with a full kitchen or kitchenette, flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. The motel also offers free kayak rentals! Rooms here are $225 NZD a night, which is a great deal for the amount of space you get.
Trinity Wharf Tauranga – $$$
Treat yourself to a luxurious getaway with a room at the Trinity Wharf Tauranga. The panoramic views over the harbor and convenient location close to the center of Tauranga, mean you’re in a great spot to explore. The infinity edge swimming pool is spectacular and the rooms have fluffy robes and comfy beds to relax in after a busy day. Rooms here are on the higher end, starting at about $300 NZD per night.
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!
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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!
While in Tauranga, a visit to Hobbiton is a must! I don’t think I need to convince you much, as it’s one of New Zealand’s top things to do, and honestly, it’s so much fun to explore! How often can you step into another world for a few hours and see the quirky charm of Hobbiton? I hope you found the perfect tour for you to discover Hobbiton and all the beauty that surrounds Tauranga!
If you found this blog helpful, be sure to check out my other North Island blogs before you go! I have some great road trip guides, the best attractions in the area, and my personal favorite activities. After living and traveling all over New Zealand, I love sharing my expertise, so check out some of my favorites below.