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.
Taking a tour of Hobbiton is one of the top things to do in New Zealand. It transports you out of reality and right into the Shire, where you can see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and the famous Green Dragon Inn. If you’ve always dreamed of going to 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 pretty amazing place to visit.
It’s a beautiful movie set that’s been kept in pristine condition and it’s located in one of the most picturesque regions of New Zealand. You can’t help but fall in love with this idyllic pastoral landscape.
Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Hobbiton, New Zealand.
1. About Hobbiton
“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 doesn’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 would 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 demolished but the facades remained intact, and Hobbiton opened for guided tours in 2002.
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?
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. 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.
3. How much does it cost to visit Hobbiton?
The price of your Hobbiton tour depends on the package you choose. All of the tours below can be booked via the Hobbiton website and do not include transportation.
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
The most basic option (and most popular) is the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, which lasts for two hours. You’ll depart from the Shire’s Rest, which is basically Hobbiton HQ. Here you’ll find the ticket office, gift shop, cafe, and parking.
From there, you’ll take a short bus ride to the set itself where you’ll enjoy a walking tour. You’ll stroll past Hobbit Holes and the Mill as you learn all about how the movies were made. The tour ends in the Green Dragon Inn, where you’ll enjoy a Hobbit Southfarthing cider, beer, or soft drink.
This tour costs $89 NZD (or roughly $50 USD) per adult. Children aged 8 and under can enter for free, while tickets for children aged 9-16 cost $44 NZD. There’s also a family pass available for two adults and two teens for $225 NZD.
Evening Banquet Tour
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 enjoy an amazing banquet feast.
It’s a two-course, self-service from-the-table situation, 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 lantern-lit walk back through The Shire and get to see Hobbiton in the moonlight.
For this tour option, ticket prices are as follows:
- $199 NZD for adults
- $162 for 9- to 16-year-olds
- $104 for children aged 5-8
- Free for under 5s
Second Breakfast Tour
Who doesn’t love a second breakfast? After all, hobbits eat seven meals per day!
The Second Breakfast Tour is one for the early risers. Be the first ones in Hobbiton and enjoy a guided tour of the set with no crowds. After your tour, you’ll sit down for a second breakfast at the Green Dragon Inn, which includes fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, streaky bacon, and pastries.
The Second Breakfast Tour costs $149 NZD for adults, $99 for older children, and $49 for kids aged 5-8.
If you’re a die-hard fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, then you have the option to treat yourself to a private tour of Hobbiton. This is the ultimate VIP experience and can be arranged for groups of up to 6 people. You’ll get the undivided attention of your guide, the chance to ask loads of questions, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Private tours last for around two hours and cost $1,000 NZD per group.
Seasonal tours of Hobbiton take place throughout the year, including an Oktoberfest-style beer festival where you can enjoy steins of Southfarthing brews, a banquet that would put Bilbo Baggins to shame, and live music. This event is 18+ and costs $250 NZD per ticket.
Similarly, you can also enjoy a Christmastime tour which includes eggnog by the tree at the Green Dragon Inn, a Christmas market at the Bywater Marketplace, and a festive buffet dinner before enjoying a moonlit walk back through the set. This option costs $240 NZD per person.
There’s also a summer harvest festival each year, usually in early February. During this event, 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 $250 NZD per person.
4. When is Hobbiton open?
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 leaves at 8:45 am so that you get a head start on the crowds. The Evening Banquet Tour, meanwhile, departs at 5:45 pm.
5. Do you have to visit Hobbiton on a tour?
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 The 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?
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, Tauranga, or 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 tour includes the standard tour of Hobbiton, 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.
Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves from Auckland
Why not combine your trip to Hobbiton with a visit to the Waitomo Caves?
Also known as the Glowworm 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 glowworms, 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 glowworms above you.
This tour costs $334 NZD and there’s an option to upgrade to a Kiwi-style barbecue lunch for an additional $42.
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 tour. Lunch at the Green Dragon Inn is also included, so you won’t go hungry! Prices start at $179 NZD for adults.
Hobbiton Movie Set from Tauranga
This small group tour includes round-trip transportation in an air-conditioned van and 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.
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?
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.
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 Shire’s Rest and make your way back to your car or the bus.
8. Do you need to book tickets to Hobbiton in advance?
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.
This year is especially going to be tough due to the reopening of New Zealand and the large influx of tourists combined with companies, including Hobbiton, not quite operating at the capacity they were before!
Please book your visit ASAP or lock in a guided tour!
9. When is the best time to visit Hobbiton?
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. New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, so winter 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?
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?
If you’d like to stay overnight near Hobbiton, there are some good accommodation options available. This is also convenient if you want to do one of the early or late tours.
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.
The Hidden Lake Hotel & Apartments is located in the town of Cambridge, which is a 30-minute drive from Hobbiton. It’s a swanky property with a hot tub, a gym, and soundproof rooms. It’s a plush spot to get a good night’s rest either before or after your visit to Hobbiton.
Alternatively, you could stay in this cozy B&B right in the town of Matamata, located just 10 minutes from Hobbiton. It’s super homely with a kitchen where you can cook your own meals, as well as a garden and a sun terrace.
12. Can you take your dog to 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?
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?
Yes, 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?
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!
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.