Sunday, February 09, 2014

A visit to Hobbiton (warning picture heavy)

A Visit to Hobbiton
… My family and I have been to the Hobbiton location set, just outside the town of Matamata, several times over the years, but this latest trip was by far the best experience.

When we first tried, back in April 2002, there was just my wife and I who had come on holiday, for the first time, from the UK. Having looked at websites at the time it looked as if you could visit the Hobbiton set. We arrived, back then, called at the tourist info centre at Matamata, only to be told it was private farmland and there was no access ! What a disappointment, we had come all that way, to no avail...

We still enjoyed the rest of our tour  and stay in NZ, and it led eventually to us migrating to this wonderful country.

But that was then, in 2002, and this is now in 2014 !

Even the tourist information centre in Matamata, has had a complete makeover! ... see below...

Several miles out of town, lies the sheep farm, where PJs scouts just happened to find a tree, by a lake with surrounding hills in just the right location and arrangement to suit their needs, and so history was made, at least in the film making world...

And so our guided tour commenced...

Initially everything was made out of temporary materials, polystyrene etc... this time it has been made out of real materials; wood, brick and stone,  to be a permanent film set and tourist attraction.

The last time we visited was just before the release of the The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey, and whilst most of the set was completed at that time, there was still scaffolding around the Green Dragon and Mill so they were not accessible.

This time they were fully completed. Also, last time, my daughter, Rebecca, was only 6 or 7 years old, and had never really "got" the Lord of the Rings movies... this visit, now 8 years old, and having seen the Hobbit, and now "getting it" completely, she was fully engaged with the experience, and wanted to be everywhere and in every picture, which made it all the more fun for the rest of the family too. My son Chris, now 10, was of course fully up for it, and my wife too, has become a complete "MiddleEarth-o-phile" ... so we were raring to go... and thankfully so was the weather, with a glorious summers day, greeting us, to enjoy the experience with barely a cloud in the sky...

So without further ado... enjoy the pictures...

My daughter Rebecca, you will be seeing a lot of her...

The lane through which Gandalf rides his cart

Tracey, my wife, gets in to the spirit...

The tour guide explained the movie magic; some of the hobbit holes were made 60% scale, so children could act as hobbits alongside adult size folk as humans...

Rebecca, is just the right height for a hobbit !

My family, Rebecca, Tracey and Chris.

Lots of little touches to bring life to the setting

Real vegetables growing in the small plots

Chimney smoke, in the first movies was done by burning beeswax, but this only lasts about an hour now for tourists, made using a smoke machine

All the wood was aged using vinaigrette, and the mould is a mix of glue, paint, sawdust and yogurt, the yogurt is used because this will encourage real moss to grow over time

I get to be in the odd picture, to prove I was there !

The above hobbit holes were added for the Hobbit trilogy of movies to enlarge the overall scene.

The tree above Bag End, with some maintenance work occurring...
The tree above Bag End was actually artificial. With thousands up thousands of material leaves having to be attached and then painted !

The view across from Bag End, to the Green Dragon in the distance, across the lake... 

Bag End
The famous green door !

The fence above to right, is the one that Bilbo leaps over.

Passing the mill, to then cross the bridge, on towards the Green Dragon.

Into the Green Dragon we go !

As part of the tour we each get a free drink. Non alcoholic ginger beer for the kids, and beer, ale or cider for the adults.

Cheers !
It comes in pints !? Im having one !

The menu

Impressive green dragon over the bar !

We each had a beef and ale pie. Absolutely delicious !

You were also allowed to dress up as hobbits if you wished.

At the back of the tavern there was also an outdoor area, that could be hired for functions; weddings and parties etc

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and did not want it to end. I could have been quite happy staying on as a gardener forever

...and of course, we hit the gift shop with enthusiasm afterwards buying posters, mugs, the Key of Erebor, ginger beer and Southfarthing ale, and a school satchel. We could have got more but the credit card was starting to whimper !

So if you ever get the chance to visit, I whole heartedly recommend a visit to Hobbiton, also known as Matamata.

And of course, I am thoroughly inspired for more Hobbit gaming, modelling and painting ! I hope you are too !


  1. A Superb post Scott thanks for sharing

  2. This is definitely on my bucket list.

  3. Looks like a great day out Scott! Fantastic photos!

  4. Looks like you had great fun mate. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a brilliant family day out and superb geekfest - I'm so envious!
    Thanks for sharing Scott!

  6. Absolutely enchanting Scott, a real treat - thank you. Certainly a place that I would like to visit one day.

  7. Fascinating post thanks. It looks a lot better (less airbrushed and glossy) than it did in the films. More real and lived in if you get my meaning. Did you dress up as a hobbit at the Green Dragon?

    1. I know what you mean. Once in the Green Dragon, I almost had to pinch myself that it was real. My wife observed I was bordering on hyper-ventilating with excitement! I think it had a been a dream of mine to be able to walk in the Shire, after the LOTR movies first came out - that dream is now realized! Its not often you can say that.

      Must confess, I restrained myself from dressing up!

  8. Very cool place, Scott. Your wonderful family looked like they had a great time too. I love the shot of the rolling hills - all the special effects in the world couldn't top the real thing. The place looks surprising pristine even with it being opened up for visitors now. Best, Dean

    1. Its certainly a beautiful, and magical location, and the crews there keep it well maintained...

  9. Excellent photo report, Scott. Looks like you all had a fantastic time. And that beautiful weather, too ...

    I bet that tour guide had to keep on his toes to not make any basic informational boo-boos!

    1. He was pretty good, and helpful, and seemed to know his stuff...

  10. Cool report Scott. As it is less than an hour down the road I might be able to convince the wife that it would make a good family trip! And don't forget that any time you are up this way you are welcome to pop in for a cuppa if you have time!

    1. Definitely worth it!

      We did actually flash through Rotorua, but it was a real whistle-stop tiki tour; 3 days to cover, via an overnight first stop in Taupo at DeBretts Spa, Hobbition (Matamata), Whakatane (for Becky to see where she was born), and Napier for Splash Planet for the kids to enjoy, before heading home... sadly we just didn't have time to stop.
      Next time I hope mate!

  11. That looks fantastic thanks for the photos definitely going to have to take my kids up to see it now. Looks like you had a great time

  12. Absolutely wonderful looking set of pics! Thank you for sharing!


  13. Wonderful post with wonderful pictures !
    Your daughter is perfect for the comparison scale !!

    It seems that there were not a lot of people visiting the Shire ?

    I would like to live in a hole in the ground .... don't know why ....

    1. Thanks! Cute as a button, eh? ;-)

      It was a very busy day there... there were bus loads of tourists of anout 30 folks at a time, being escorted round, with about 30 mins between parties. The tour lasts about two hours. I did my best to get pictures with as few tourists in them as possible - my own family excluded of course! ;-)

      I know what you mean ... I have plans for a 1:1 scale hobbit hole for our garden now... though it will be just a front facade... just need to source the materials..

  14. She nearly was in every picture the little scamp. It's obvious from the photos that the whole family had a great time. Too bad about the Green Dragon Would have loved to see you dressed as a hobbit.

    1. It was tremendous indeed! I'm not sure you'd want to see my bare hobbit feet! ;-)

  15. Wow - and you had amazing weather too by the looks of things. I got a distinct LoTR vibe looking at the images and picturing the films. Matamata is on our to do list when(if) we ever get back down there.

    Thanks for sharing, looks like your family had a blast!.

    1. It was an awesome day alright... hope you get to check it sometime if you make it back here...

  16. Great post and pictures Scott. Thanks for sharing. Plus it's nice getting to see the family, they look like a fine bunch.

    1. Thanks Steve, glad you liked them.
      You are too kind! ;-)


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