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I have seen some pretty cool movie set tours like the Harry Potter Warner Bros. studio tour in London and the Hobbiton Movie Set tour ranks up there with the best. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. I will cover things like ticket prices and tours and also give you a detailed review of what the experience is like.
What is the Hobbiton Movie Set?
The Hobbiton Movie Set is a hilly farmland in Waikato, New Zealand where scenes featuring “Hobbiton” of the Shire were filmed for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series. The site now offers several different tours and experiences that allow fans to enjoy the movie set in memorable ways, such as guided tours and festive banquets.
Booking the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Below I will go into the details for all of the prices for the different tours.
One thing I will say right off the bat is that you need to book your tickets as soon as possible because the spots will fill up very quickly. This is especially true if you want to do one of the special tours that involve a lunch or banquet. This is not an attraction that you want to wait until the last minute to book!
There are four main different tours that you can choose from. Note that the prices will be increasing for all of the tours as of April 2020.
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
This is the main tour that most people will do. It takes you through the major sites like the Hobbit Holes and Green Dragon Inn and takes about two hours (I’ll go into detail on this tour below).
You can choose to be picked up from three different locations:
- The Shire’s Rest (the tour’s main location)
- Matamata i-SITE
- The Hobbiton™ Movie Set Shop, 1235 Fenton St, Rotorua (more expensive)
The tours from The Shire’s Rest depart every 10 minutes so there are many of these tours every single day. When you go to book a tour you will have a selection of different time slots to choose from and you should see if there are limited spaces for certain slots.
Here are the prices for the tour:
(All prices below are in New Zealand dollars. For your reference, you can click on a price below and see the US dollar equivalent. 84 New Zealand dollars is ~$55 USD as of 12/19.)
- Adult (17 years and over): $84.00, $89.00 from 1 April 2020
- Youth (9-16 years): $42.00, $44.00 from 1 April 2020
- Child (0-8 years): Children are FREE but must have ticket allocated prior to arrival and be accompanied by a full paying adult.
- Tours depart daily from 9am until 3.30pm.
If you are going to be late for your tour I suggest that you contact them immediately. They will work with you to try to get you into the soonest tour but keep in mind that if other tours are all sold out they might not be able to get you in that day.
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour + Lunch
This is the tour that I wish I would have done. If you want to make your tour experience a little bit more memorable without paying a whole lot of extra money, I think this tour option is perfect. There are only three timeslots though and these tours need to be booked very far in advance to secure your preferred time slot.
Here are the prices:
- Adult (17 years and over): $120.00, $125.00 from 1 April 2020
- Youth (9-16 years): $78.00, $80.00 from 1 April 2020
- Child (0-8 years): Children are FREE but must have ticket allocated prior to arrival and be accompanied by a full paying adult.
- 10.05am departure begins with tour followed by lunch at 11.35am
- 12.05pm departure begins with tour followed by lunch at 1.35pm
- 1.25pm departure begins with lunch followed by tour at 2.25pm
Hobbiton Movie Set Evening Banquet Tours
The Hobbiton Movie Set Evening Banquet Tour is probably the coolest way to explore the Shire because it is a tour that takes place at dusk. Also, you get to enjoy the banquet at the Green Dragon which is a unique experience.
I think I would enjoy this tour but there is something special about visiting the Shire during the daytime when the sun is out shining brightly and this tour may not offer you that same type of experience.
Here are the prices:
- Adult (17 years and over): $195.00, $199.00 from 1 April 2020
- Youth (9-16 years): $152.50, $162.00 from 1 April 2020
- Child (5-8 years): $100, $104.00 from 1 April 2020. Children must be accompanied by a full paying adult- Must also have a ticket allocated.
- Infant (0-4 years): Infants must be accompanied by a full paying adult- Must also have a ticket allocated.
The private tour is very expensive but it is probably the best option for the diehard fans and I will explain why below.
Here are the prices:
- Private tour (up to 4 people): $750.00
- Additional Adult (17yrs+): $84.00
- Additional Youth (9-16yrs): $42.00
- Additional Child (0-8yrs): Free with full paying adult
Please note: From 1 April 2020 Private Tour departures will be $1,000.00 for maximum six adults or equivalent.
Because the movie set tour is a couple of hours away from Auckland, New Zealand and semi-close to other attractions, a lot of people like to package together tours and spend an entire day hitting up multiple spots.
This can be an efficient use of both time and money so it is definitely something to consider. One of the popular tourist packages you can do is what is known as the trilogy and it offers the following tours:
- 45 minute Tour of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
- 2 hour tour of Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo
- 2 hour Tour of Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata
- 4.5 hours exclusive guided tour of Te Puia; Maori welcome ceremony and cultural performance & Māori Feast (traditional indigenous dinner), Rotorua
The Trilogy Package Prices
- Adult $342
- Child $171
- Family $924 (2 adults and 2 children; extra child add $171)
Don’t forget — watch the movies!
Once you book your tickets, I recommend that you re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy and also the Hobbit movies so that everything is fresh on your mind. And obviously if you have not seen the movies, you need to get on that ASAP!
Getting to the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Here is the address of the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour:
501 Buckland Road, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Below are the approximate time frames it will take you to get to the movie set from major destinations:
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Auckland, New Zealand: 2 hours
- Wellington, New Zealand: 6 hours
We stayed at the Hilton Auckland Hotel and so we were about a two hour drive away from the movie set, which we made in a rental car.
The drive to the movie set from Auckland was very beautiful!
You will pass through many rolling green hills and beautiful farm landscapes. It reminded me a lot of driving through California when all of the hills are nice and green and full life.
Your GPS will probably take you right to the location but you will also notice several signs pointing you in the right direction as you approach the movie set. If you don’t want to drive there, you can look into getting transferred there.
Also, there are farm stays in the local area so you could stay in something like a B&B for a night and enjoy a nice complimentary dinner and breakfast.
Arriving at the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
There are pretty large parking lots at the Hobbiton Movie Set so you shouldn’t have an issue finding a parking spot when you arrive.
The first thing that you need to do when you arrive is to snap a photo of you underneath the Hobbiton Movie Set sign. It is a picture perfect sign and there is a little walkway that will take you right to the sign.
The Shire’s Rest
When you arrive, you will need to check in to receive your tickets if you booked online and you will want to head to The Shire’s Rest to do this. Simply follow the signs to the Shires Rest Ticketing Centre where you can get that done. When we arrived, there was only a short line to deal with. Keep in mind that they request you to check in 15 minutes prior to your scheduled tour time.
If you have arrived early then you might want to spend some time at the nearby Shire’s Rest Cafe or Garden Bar. The Garden Bar offers a nice shady spot to grab a bite and craft beer before or after your tour and it’s perfect for summer days.
You can also order ice cream and milkshakes or thick shakes for around five to seven New Zealand dollars from the ice cream shop. If you really have a sweet tooth consider going with the Hobbit Crunch which is a fancy sundae that you will surely enjoy.
You can also explore the gift shop. However, a lot of visitors like to save the gift shop until the end of the tour so you might want to go that route. I will talk more about the gift shop below.
Getting ready for your tour
As the time approaches for your tour, you will want to line up where the sign indicates your tour will be taking off. I would suggest lining up about five minutes before your scheduled tour time.
Depending on the type of tour that you booked, you might be getting transported via a bus or a van. In our case, we did the bus tour.
After lining up we boarded the bus and found our seats which were in a 2-2 lay out.
Once we got going, they played some special footage related to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies and also provided us with some insightful content about the production of the movies, the 12-acres that was used for Hobbiton, and some other really cool and interesting facts.
I don’t want to give everything away but you will find out some little tidbits about the movie that you probably did not already know.
The drive through the Alexander family sheep farm over to the movie set is also an extremely scenic drive. You will wind through some beautiful rolling green pasture land dotted with sheep living a good life.
The bus ride from the arrival area to the actual movie set took a total of 15 minutes.
Once everybody exits the bus you will meet up at the first sign and they will go over some of the information that you need to know about the tour. Basically they just told us to stay together and to not venture into any of the areas without permission.
The way that the tour works is that you will travel as a group and your group will stop at several different Hobbit Holes throughout Hobbiton. At each stop, you will be able to check out the areas and get photos while learning some cool facts about each little site.
The biggest drawback to this tour is that they move along too efficiently.
Basically if you are in the back of the line you will feel rushed from the group behind you coming up.
It’s a very awkward experience when you are trying to get a photo and you have 30 tourists glaring at you as they impatiently wait for you to leave so that their tour guide can start showing them the site.
Therefore, if you are a true Lord of the Rings fan and you want to savor this experience, you probably want to consider a private tour. Yes, they will be much more expensive but you will be able to enjoy the sights without any pressure from the crowds.
If you don’t already know, you will find out that these little Hobbit Holes are not actually real little houses with rooms and lively corridors to explore. Some of them open up to a small area that is similar to a closet but most are just facades.
But still, it can be really fun to explore the exterior of the Hobbit Holes and the entire community.
One thing that fascinated me about the different Hobbit Holes was all of the details. Everything from the windows to the doorhandles are extremely intricate and it is really fun to explore them from up close. It really feels as if little hobbits are living inside behind those doors.
It’s really cool to see some of the sights like the detailed clothes drying out on the clothes lines.
Also the landscaping with all of the colorful flowers is pretty immaculate and a sight to see. When we visited in February, there were tons of butterflies fluttering around and it was a very magical experience.
Your tour guide will point out the residences of the most notable hobbits.
One of the coolest things to see are all of the live plants and produce that they produce on site.
You can even find batches of raw honey.
I also appreciated the attention to detail in things like the “street signs.”
Each time you stop at a little Hobbit Hole you should have enough time to get some photos and to pose in front of them. Like I mentioned though, this is much easier to do if you are at the front of the group because you will not feel as much pressure to move along quickly.
Your tour should stop at at least one Hobbit Hole that they will allow you to step inside of and get some photos. And when I say step inside of, that literally means just taking like one step inside of the Hobbit Hole.
Make sure you are listening to your tour guide because during our tour some of the tourists entered in one of the Hobbit Holes that was NOT meant to be entered in. This caused a little bit of commotion so just be mindful of this.
The tour will wind up and down the hillsides as you hit up the different sites. The walking required is not overly strenuous, but I would definitely bring some walking friendly shoes.
The pathways are not wheelchair friendly but there are options for those who can’t complete all the walking.
Also, you are permitted to bring strollers on the tour but many of the pathways are cobblestone or bumpy and they also can be quite narrow so bringing a stroller can be a task.
Green Dragon Inn
Eventually you will wind up at the tavern at the end of the tour, known as the Green Dragon Inn.
According to the official Hobbiton website, “The Green Dragon Inn was the meeting place for all residents of Hobbiton, who would gather in the warm surroundings of the bar to chatter about the day’s events.”
The Green Dragon Inn is a really cool spot where you can enjoy some grub or even some drinks from the Hobbit Southfarthing range, which I believe is brewed right on location.
Here are some drinks that you might be interested in trying:
- Girdley Fine Grain, Amber Ale
- Sackville Cider, Apple Cider
- Oatbarton Brew, Traditional English Ale
- Frogmorton Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic)
If you have also booked a lunch tour then this is where you will depart from the other group to enjoy the lunch buffet served in the Party Marquee. The Party Marquee is adjacent to The Green Dragon Inn, with the garden bar seating overlooking the Hobbiton Movie Set.
In our case, we only did the standard movie set tour so we then headed back to the gift shop. The entire tour lasted about two hours.
The gift shop
There are a lot of interesting items to purchase at the gift shop. You will find all sorts of different collectibles, books, and some decoration items like the maps of Middle Earth which I thought were pretty awesome.
For something like a map you would be paying about NZ$35.
They also had some awesome figurines of different characters and those were more expensive — usually ranging around NZ$100-NZ$300.
Some of the items cannot be purchased at the store but they are on display and available at websites that will be shown on the display.
They also had a lot of standard gift shop items like candies and various types of sweets. You could also venture into the café and purchase sandwiches for around $6.50 and beverages like iced coffee or milk for around 3 to NZ$5.
If you wanted something more substantial you could order a meal like eggs Benedict for $16.50, second breakfast for $19.50, or a Lamb burger for around $18.
There are several picnic tables for you to enjoy your meal outside and on a nice day it can be an extremely pleasant experience.
But there are also tables located indoors just in case the weather does not cooperate.
Lord of the Rings tours
If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy there are other tours that you can do that will take you to various destinations and locations used in the films. Some of these tours can be up to two weeks in length so you can live your fandom for days on end!
Here are some companies to look at:
- Red Carpet Tours
- Weta Studio Tours
- Hairy Feet- Waitomo
- Tongariro Crossing- Adrift Guided Adventures
- Adventure Safari Ltd- Wellington
- Hassle Free Tours- Christchurch
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Can I wander around by myself?
No, the tours are all guided and require visitors to be supervised. This is probably in the best interest of everyone.
Are drones allowed?
Drones are not allowed during the normal tour hours. You can contact the site owners to inquire about after our drone usage but there is no guarantee they will allow it.
Do tours still take place when it rains?
Yes, they will continue with tours in the rain. They will supply you with umbrellas but this is one reason why you want to bring quality closed toed shoes with you on this trip (or a poncho).
Can we go inside the Hobbit Holes?
You will likely only be allowed to step inside of one Hobbit Hole. And keep in mind there will only be a small closet-like area behind the door.
How long are the tours?
The standard movie set tour is approximately two hours and about 30 minutes of that is travel time to and from the movie set.
Can I take photos?
Yes, you can take as many photos as you would like just make sure they are not for commercial use. I brought out my professional DSLR camera and had no issues with photos.
What do I need to bring with me?
You don’t need to bring anything special with you on this tour. But you would probably be good with a small backpack where you can hold things like sunscreen, a jacket if you don’t need to be wearing it, water bottles, etc. As mentioned above, I would consider a rain poncho if I were visiting when rain was expected.
Overall, the movie set tour is a must see destination for any fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Hobbit movies. You will no doubt be floored by the amount of details in the Hobbit Holes and surrounding areas. But while I loved the tour I do think that a private tour would be much more enjoyable for a diehard fan even with the price tag of $1,000.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.