The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies were filmed on farmland near Matamata and the Hobbiton Movie Set can be visited by tour.
The set was constructed a year prior to filming to allow weeds to grow so the set would look more realistic and lived in. It was built as a film set meaning that it was not built to last longer than the initial film shoot (like many film sets corners were cut with sets made from plywood and polystyrene). However, in 2010 the set was rebuilt in a more permanent manner for the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The 5.5 ha (14 acre) film set features 44 hobbit holes, although it is only possible to enter a few of them. The interior shots were filmed in a studio in Wellington so don’t expect the interior of the holes to look the same as in the films.
Despite tours being relatively pricey, the set is a very popular tourist attraction attracting over half a million visitors since tours began in 2002.
The set is now home to The Shire’s Rest Cafe, where you can enjoy a second breakfast and the Green Dragon Inn (a replica of the Green Dragon that featured in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies) was opened in 2012.
Admission is by two-hour tour and tours can get booked out during busy periods so it is best to book in advance to ensure that you have space on the tour.