Our next stop was a place we were both excited see: Hobbiton. Now the town we stayed in is actually called Matamata, but location scouts for the Lord of the Rings films found a farm nearby, which was ideal as the set for Hobbiton. Initially, the whole set was temporary and made from polystyrene so that it could be removed and the land returned to sheep grazing. When the Hobbit films were made, they decided that building a permanent tourist attraction was a good idea. Even the renatured set had become a place of pilgrimage for fans of the trilogy. The current Hobbiton is constructed to last and allow visitors to walk in the footsteps of film stars. There are a few options for visiting: a guided tour and the tour plus lunch or a dinner banquet. It is certainly not a cheap activity with the guided your setting you back $84, but we couldn’t miss it.
The morning of our visit was grey and wet, but luckily when we boarded the bus we discovered umbrellas were provided. Our short drive from the i-site to Hobbiton was complete with an introduction into the farm and set via videos and some chatting by the driver. We picked up our tour guide Luke, who actually happened to be staying in the same hostel as us and we were ready to meet some hobbits. The first major disappointment of the day was the revelation that we would not be meeting any hobbits. This, along with the weather was the only bad news of the day and was out of the way before we even reached the set.
We were teased with small glimpses of what was to come, as the bus neared Hobbiton and even disembarking the bus we could see very little except for this sign:
Just around the corner we were plunged into real life Hobbiton, as if we were hobbits ourselves.
The view was beautiful and the hobbit houses magical. Our guide gave us snippets and stories of the set and filming around every little bend and we just couldn’t stop taking photos.
Each hobbit house is themed for a different trade such as the woodcutter, the beekeeper and the florist. The attention to detail is truly incredible. The gardens are planted with vegetables and flowers and almost all of it is real except for the odd basket of apples or pumpkin or tree. In fact there is one entirely artificial tree with over 200,000 hand painted leaves, but it is so well made that you could not tell it was fake.
We enjoyed every single one of the 44 hobbit holes and learnt how the film crew tricked us into thinking Gandalf was a giant wizard and Frodo was a tiny hobbit. We even got to go inside a hobbit house; except they are just façades with no real interior.
We wound our way past the most famous hobbit hole of all, Bag End where Bilbo Baggins resides and then to his best friends Sam’s house just round the corner at no. 2, Bagshot Road.
After the hobbit houses came the nature walk past the mill and into the Green Dragon Inn.
Here we sat by a roaring fire and toasted to the Hobbits with a cup of ale and a hobbit sized pie. The inn was just like an english country pub with a little more hobbit feel.
We made one last stop at the gift shop before our time at Hobbiton was over. We really didn’t want to leave and wondered if we maybe should have gone for the evening banquet and had a meal in the Green Dragon, but these tours are even more expensive. The atmosphere in the super cosy pub might be worth it though.
We would highly recommend a visit to Hobbiton, even just to be immersed into another world. If we could have stayed overnight, we would have, but we would still rather not grow hairy feet.