Skip to Content

15 Things to KNOW before Visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand

15 Things to KNOW before Visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

If you’re a “Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” fan, then visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set is a bucket list-worthy activity that you’ll never forget. Walking past the familiar sights of the Shire, it really feels as if a wise wizard might hop around the corner and whisk you off on an adventure at any moment!

Some of the famous local spots you can see include the world-famous Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and the iconic Green Dragon Inn. If you’ve always dreamed of seeing this idyllic corner of Middle-earth, then you really can’t pass up the opportunity to visit Hobbiton.

And even if you’re not a die-hard fan of the books and movies, it’s still a gorgeous and downright fun place to visit!

Hobbiton is located in Waikato, one of the most picturesque regions of New Zealand. You can’t help but fall in love with this idyllic pastoral landscape on New Zealand’s North Island – just make sure to bring your camera for some epic action shots!

In short, visiting Hobbiton is easily one of the top things to do in New Zealand. Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand.

1. About Hobbiton

Bailey walks up to the door of a Hobbit Hole at Hobbiton in New Zealand
Checking out a Hobbit home.
Bailey nocks on the door of Hobbit Hole at Hobbiton Movie Set in NZ
Looks like he’s out on party business!

Of course, to really appreciate all that’s gone into making Hobbiton the special place that it is, it helps to know a little bit about where it all comes from!

“The Hobbit” was published in 1937 and “The Lord of the Rings” books were written between 1937 and 1942. However, the story of the Hobbiton movie set didn’t start until 1998, when director Sir Peter Jackson was searching for a location to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novels to life on the big screen.

Sir Jackson and his team performed an aerial search across New Zealand and found a farm just outside of Matamata that was to be perfect for the movie set.

At the time, it was a working sheep farm owned by the Alexander family. Legend has it that the team knocked on the door to speak to the Alexanders, only to be told to come back later because they were watching a rugby match!

Eventually, however, the Alexanders made a deal with Jackson and his team, and the construction of Hobbiton began.

With tremendous effort and help from the New Zealand Army, the land was transformed into the Shire from Middle-earth, replete with Hobbit Holes, gardens, and other features that brought the novels to life. Production was top secret, and the team went to great lengths to keep the set hidden from prying eyes.

After production wrapped, the insides of the Hobbit Holes were removed, but the facades remained intact, and Hobbiton opened for guided tours in 2002. That said, not all of the Hobbit Holes are empty – after the 1st of December 2023, all tours here in Hobbiton include time exploring the interior of a Hobbit hole that’s been fully furnished on Bagshot Row. How cool is that?!

Several years later, in 2009, Sir Peter Jackson returned to Hobbiton to film “The Hobbit” movies. As a result, Hobbiton is now home to 44 permanent Hobbit Holes and The Green Dragon Inn, which appear frequently in the books and movies.

Unsurprisingly, Hobbiton has become an incredibly popular tourist attraction. In 2015, it welcomed its millionth visitor!

2. Where is Hobbiton?

Bailey checks the mail at Bilbo Baggins house at Hobbiton, New Zealand
No mail today!

Hobbiton is located on a working farm in the small village of Matamata in New Zealand’s Waikato region, which is about a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland or an hour from Rotorua. It’s the perfect road trip stop on routes such as the drive from Auckland to Tauranga.

However, if you take a guided tour, transportation may be included from another major city – more on that to come!

Although Hobbiton is located far from many other attractions, it also happens to be close to the famous Waitomo Caves. For that reason, many tours visit both places, which makes the drive even more worth it.

Related read: Hobbiton is also close to Hamilton and Tauranga, both cities have lots of fun things to do!

3. How much does it cost to visit Hobbiton?

Green fields and a beer barrel at Hobbiton, New Zealand
Hobbiton is such a beautiful place!

The price of your Hobbiton tour will depend on the type of tour that you choose. I’ll get into this in a bit more detail later, but you can only visit Hobbiton as part of a walking tour. With that said, all of the tours below can be booked via the Hobbiton website and do not include transportation. 

Bookings are required for all of the below tours, so don’t forget to secure your tickets before you go!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

The most basic option (and most popular) is the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, which lasts for two and a half hours. You’ll depart from The Shire’s Rest, which is basically Hobbiton HQ, where you’ll find the ticket office, gift shop, a café, and parking.

From there, you’ll take a short bus ride to the set itself, where you’ll embark on your epic walking tour. Strolling past Hobbit holes and the Mill, your friendly guide will tell you all about how the movies were made, including all of the practical effects they used along the way! The tour ends at the Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll enjoy a Hobbit Southfarthing cider, beer, or soft drink.

This tour costs $120 NZD per adult. Children aged 10 and under can enter for free, while tickets for children aged 11-17 cost $60 NZD. There’s also a family pass available for two adults and two teens for $306 NZD.

Evening Banquet Tour

Lasting around 4 and a half hours, the Evening Banquet Tour begins at dusk with a guided walking tour of the set. Just as with the standard tour, you’ll end with a drink in the Green Dragon Inn, but after that, you also get to tuck into an amazing banquet feast, fit for hobbits, humans, dwarves – you name it!

It’s a two-course, self-service from-the-table style meal, with a vegetarian option available. Typical main dishes include roast chicken, slow-cooked lamb, and roast pumpkin, while dessert options include kiwi pavlova and apple crumble with vanilla custard.

When the feast ends, you’ll then enjoy a walk back through the Shire and get to see Hobbiton in the moonlight. While visiting Hobbiton during the day is a blast, I do find that visiting in the evening helps make the experience feel even more magical, with the paths lit by lantern light and the chimneys of the Hobbit holes smoking away.

Tickets for the evening banquet tour cost $230 NZD per adult. While it is a bit more pricey than the normal walking tour, this is definitely worth considering if you’re a die-hard fan who wants to enjoy an unforgettable experience here in Hobbiton!

Tables inside the Green Dragon Inn on the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
The Green Dragon Inn
A fire place and chairs at the Green Dragon Inn at Hobbiton, New Zealand
The perfect place to have a drink!

Second Breakfast Tour

Who doesn’t love a second breakfast? After all, hobbits eat seven meals per day!

As you might have guessed, the Second Breakfast Tour is one for the early risers. Joining up on this tour, you’ll be one of the lucky first few to enjoy a guided tour of the set with no crowds. As is customary in Hobbiton, you’ll also stop by the Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll be treated to a complimentary beverage from the Southfarthing range.

But the fun doesn’t stop here, you’ll then hop over to The Millhouse, where you’ll tuck into a mouthwateringly good second breakfast at the Green Dragon Inn, which includes fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, streaky bacon, and pastries, to name but a few. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are available too.

This tour costs $180 NZD for adults, and although it might be called second breakfast, I recommend coming to this one on an empty stomach – the meals here are pretty filling!

Private Tours

If you’re a die-hard fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, then you also have the option to treat yourself to a private tour of Hobbiton. This is the ultimate VIP experience and can be arranged for individuals or groups. You’ll get the undivided attention of your guide, the chance to ask loads of questions, and plenty of photo opportunities!

For private tours, there is a minimum spend of $4000 NZD, so this definitely works out a lot cheaper if you’re traveling in a group. These tours last for 2.5 hours and can be tailored to your needs – they can even add a buffet lunch (at extra cost) onto your tour as well.

Seasonal Tours

If you’re traveling to Hobbiton in early February, you’re in luck! During the summer harvest festival, you can party like a hobbit and enjoy a farmer’s market, plenty of Southfarthing beers and ciders, a barbecue, and a buffet inside a beautifully decorated party marquee. Tickets cost $290 NZD per person.

4. When is Hobbiton open?

A red Hobbit Home at Hobbiton Movie Set
All the Hobbit holes are so cute!

Hobbiton is open every single day of the year, except for Christmas Day. Now that’s commitment!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tours usually depart between 9 am and 3 pm. There used to be a lot more guided tours per day, but these days they run around 5 per day, with extras added based on demand.

The Second Breakfast Tour times do vary a little, with most departing after 8:20 am so that you get a head start on the crowds. The Evening Banquet Tour, meanwhile, departs at 6:20 pm.

5. Do you have to visit Hobbiton on a tour?

Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at a Hobbit Hole at Hobbiton, New Zealand
My mum loved Hobbiton as much as I did!

Unfortunately, the only way to visit Hobbiton is on a guided tour. This is because the movie set is so famous, and having visitors explore on their own would likely lead to overcrowding, long lines to take photos, and of course, damage to the set.

Even if you book a private tour with a company from, say Auckland, they will have to be guided by a Hobbiton guide to ensure all rules are followed on the set.

All of these guided tours start at Shires Rest, which is the entrance area and ticket office. You will only be able to go through the gates here as part of a tour, so there’s no point in trying to sneak in by yourself!

6. What are the best tours that include transport to Hobbiton?

Bailey sits in the door of a red Hobbit home at Hobbiton, NZ
A blue door at Hobbiton, New Zealand

If you don’t have your own car in New Zealand, and you’re staying in one of the main cities, then the best way to visit Hobbiton is on a day tour from Auckland, a tour from Tauranga, or a tour from Rotorua. This will save you the hassle of renting a car and driving yourself because the tours will take care of all the logistics for you.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Auckland

This small-group tour of Hobbiton includes the standard tour as well as return transport from Auckland. You can also choose the transport-only option if you prefer to purchase your Hobbiton ticket separately, so this is a flexible option. Tickets cost $275 NZD per person for the complete package, or $175 NZD per person for just the transport option.

Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves from Auckland

Why not combine your trip to Hobbiton with a visit to the epic Waitomo Caves on this small-group tour from Auckland?

Also known as the “‘”Glow Worm Caves”, the Waitomo Caves are a must-see attraction in New Zealand. As you can probably guess from their name, the caves are famous for their glow-worms, which are actually the larvae of fungus gnats. 

They may sound gross, but these little creatures emit light and look like stars twinkling in the sky. It’s a really magical experience to glide through the caves by boat and marvel at the glow-worms above you. You can easily make a day of exploring the caves as well as Hobbiton!

I also found this tour to have some of the most amazing tour guides as well, we had Don drive us there and had a blast chatting to him on the way. Definitely a good way to learn about the local area as well as other cool spots to explore.

This tour costs $375 NZD per person – you can check out available dates and book your spot online here.

Movie Set from Rotorua

In addition to round-trip transportation to Hobbiton from Rotorua, you’ll also benefit from live commentary as you wind your way through the scenic New Zealand countryside on this full-day tour. Lunch at The Party Marquee is also included, so you won’t go hungry!

This tour is very well organized – it felt like zero time was wasted as we explored, and yet we didn’t feel rushed either. Tickets for this tour start at $259 NZD for adults, with tours departing daily at 8:15 am.

Hobbiton Movie Set from Tauranga

This small-group tour includes round-trip transportation in an air-conditioned van as well as the standard Hobbiton tour option. There’s live commentary on board to help you make the most of your trip, and you’ll even get to try a cider or beer at the Green Dragon Inn. It’s one of the best tours from Tauranga to Hobbiton!

You can grab tickets for this tour from Tauranga for $235 NZD per person.

Related read: If you’re a LOTR super fan, don’t miss trying out one of the best Lord of the Rings Tours near Glenorchy. There are so many filming locations near this small town, from Isengard Lookout to the Lothlorien Forest.

7. What are the Hobbiton tours like?

Scenic shot of the green hills at the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
You get to tour the entire movie set!

When you arrive at Hobbiton, you’ll either park or be dropped off at The Shire’s Rest, depending on whether you drive yourself or book one of the tours above.

From there, you’ll board a bus and take a quick ride to the movie set, where you’ll enjoy a walking tour with a trained guide. You’ll learn lots of behind-the-scenes information about how the movies were made, as well as get up close and personal with some of the original set pieces.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take photos, and you should definitely take advantage of this because Hobbiton is one of those incredibly beautiful spots to visit in New Zealand.

Since the end of 2023, all tours of Hobbiton also include an inside tour of a Hobbit hole – if you’re lucky, you might just spot Bilbo working away at his writing desk!

The tour ends with a Southfarthing beer at the Green Dragon Inn. Southfarthing brews can only be found in Hobbiton and are inspired by the Shire, so this is a really unique experience. If you don’t drink beer, there’s also cider and non-alcoholic ginger ale to choose from.

After that, you’ll take the bus back to The Shire’s Rest and make your way back to your car or the bus. No need to trek all the way to Mordor this time!

banner asking people to click to join the Queenstown Diary Facebook Group

8. Do you need to book tickets to Hobbiton in advance?

A lady drinks a beer at the winow in the The Green Dragon Inn at Hobbiton, New Zealand
Cheers!

Hobbiton is a very popular tourist attraction, and people come from far and wide to take a stroll through the Shire. Therefore, you should definitely book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season, which runs from December to February. During this time, over 3,500 people visit every day, and the tours book up.

And when I say they book up, I mean it! Tours can often book up weeks, if not months in advance, so make sure to check your dates online ahead of time.

Tours have been especially busy since the reopening of New Zealand and the large influx of tourists combined with companies, including Hobbiton, not quite operating at capacity, means it’s best to book your visit ASAP or lock in a guided tour!

9. When is the best time to visit Hobbiton?

The Millhouse and lake at the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
Did you know the movie set even has a man-made lake?

It’s better to go early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Hobbiton feels extra magical with fewer people around!

The Second Breakfast and Evening Banquet tours allow you to explore Hobbiton outside of normal hours, but if you’d rather just take the standard tour, we recommend booking either the first or the last outing of the day. These usually happen at 9 am and 3 pm, respectively. 

Visiting Hobbiton during winter can also help you to avoid the crowds, as it’s less busy during this time. Because it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, winter in New Zealand is from June to August. The weather is still mild during winter in Waikato, so this can be a really good time to visit.

Related Read: Learn all about the best times to visit New Zealand.

10. What should you bring to Hobbiton?

Wide shot of the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
A hat is a great idea because there isn’t much shade!

Since Hobbiton tours involve roughly two hours of walking, it’s definitely best to wear comfortable shoes. We recommend closed-toe shoes in case of rain.

If you’re visiting during the summer, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a must. You don’t want to get sunburned while walking around the Shire! It’s also a good idea to bring water, although some tour packages include this.

You should also bring a light rain jacket that you can pack away easily, as the weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable.

Layers are also smart if you’re doing the Second Breakfast or Evening Banquet tour because it can get chilly in the mornings and evenings, even when it’s warm during the day.

Oh, and last but not least, make sure that your camera and/or phone is fully charged because you’ll want to take lots of photos. Bring a power pack if your battery doesn’t tend to last the whole day!

11. Where can you stay near Hobbiton?

A blue door Hobbit Hole at Hobbiton, New Zealand
The detail they put in is so impressive!

If you’d like to stay overnight near Hobbiton, there are some great accommodation options available. This is also convenient if you want to do one of the early or late tours. Here are a few of my favorites, which all fit around a moderate budget:

The Kauri Lodge -$$

The Kauri Lodge is a super clean, comfy, and convenient self-catering apartment that includes free breakfast items and great views of the surrounding area. It’s a secluded spot where you can really soak up the beauty of the Waikato countryside, and it’s only 15 minutes away from Hobbiton.

A room here at the Kauri Lodge starts at around $210 NZD per night, with studios as well as 2-bedroom apartments available. You can check out available dates and book your stay online here.

The Hidden Lake Hotel & Apartments -$$

The Hidden Lake Hotel and Apartments is located in the town of Cambridge, which is a 30-minute drive from Hobbiton. Despite being in the moderate budget category, It’s a pretty swanky property with a hot tub, a gym, and soundproof rooms.

All in all, this is a pretty plush spot to get a good night’s rest either before or after your visit to Hobbiton! You can stay here at The Hidden Lake Hotel and Apartments from $249 NZD per night, with studios, 1 and 2-bedroom apartments, as well as disability-friendly rooms too. Bookings can be made online here on Booking.com.

Cozy Country Stay – $$

Another option is this cozy B&B right in the town of Matamata, located just 10 minutes from Hobbiton. After all, staying in a cozy home is just what’s needed before heading on over to the Shire. This spot is super homely with a kitchen where you can cook your own meals, as well as a garden and a sun terrace – nice!

A one-night stay here costs around $205 NZD per night, with a continental breakfast also included in your room rate. You can check out available dates and book your stay online here.

12. Can you take your dog to Hobbiton?

Reflections off the lake at Hobbiton Movie Set, NZ
You won’t find dogs at Hobbiton.

Sadly, there are no dogs allowed in Hobbiton!

Service dogs are permitted, but they must wear an ID tag, and you may need to provide proof of their certification as a service animal.

13. Is Hobbiton suitable for kids?

The Millhouse at Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand
They serve dinner in The Millhouse!

It definitely is – in fact, it’s a great activity for families traveling in New Zealand.

Hobbiton is stroller-friendly, so it’s suitable for very young children, but you will need a stroller that you can fold up and load onto the bus from Shire’s Rest to the set. Most strollers do this, but if you’re worried just call ahead and ask!

Related Read: For more family-friendly fun in New Zealand, check out my blog on the best activities for kids in Queenstown!

14. Can you visit Hobbiton in the rain?

Hobbiton Movie Set Hobbit Hole

Yep, you can!

Hobbiton tours are very well organized and umbrellas are provided during bad weather, so there’s no need to bring your own. However, we do recommend wearing closed-toe shoes and bringing a rain jacket. You never really know what the New Zealand weather is going to do, so it’s best to be prepared!

15. Is Hobbiton worth it?

Yellow door Hobbit door at Hobbiton, NZ
Even if you’re not a fan, you’ll love Hobbiton!

You bet! As Gandalf said, “The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there” – so it’s definitely worth getting out there and exploring this epic movie set.

If you’re a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and/or “The Hobbit”, this is an amazing chance to immerse yourself in the world of Middle-earth and to see where some of the most iconic scenes from the movies were filmed.

And to be honest, even if you’re not a big fan or have never seen the movies, it’s still really cool to learn about how they were filmed. After all, like them or not, they are iconic! And, trust us, whenever you mention that you’ve been to New Zealand, people will always ask you if you saw where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed! 

Related Read: Looking to road trip to Hobbiton? Consider renting a campervan in Auckland for the journey!

Thanks for reading!

Hobbit home at Hobbiton, NZ
Thanks for reading!

There you have it, a complete guide to discovering a little piece of the Lord of the Rings while in New Zealand. Exploring Hobbiton is definitely one of those tours you should do while you’re here. Hopefully, you’re all ready for your own visit now! It’s a ton of fun for all ages and a great way to spend a day.

If this guide was helpful, or you want to let me know your favorite part of Hobbiton, leave me a comment below. And before you go, make sure to check out some of my other New Zealand travel guides.

50 BEST Hikes in New Zealand

22 EPIC Things to do in Taupo, NZ

17 Best Things to do in Glenorchy & Paradise

Sam

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Hey Bailey! This is very helpful, thanks! Any advice for those of us looking to visit in September? What to wear, carry etc?

Bailey

Friday 1st of September 2023

Hey Sam!

I would dress warm in September! Can be cold especially in the morning!

Thanks Bailey