At the beginning of August, Amazon Prime released a first look at their much-anticipated Lord of the Rings series set to release next September, and suddenly fans were ready to discover Middle Earth all over again. Though perhaps they never stopped. With both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit trilogy available for streaming on HBO Max, many have spent lockdown rediscovering Peter Jackson’s epic trilogies (or maybe even discovering them for the first time).
10 Facts About Hobbiton
With hopeful eyes now turned to the future, and to the possibility of traveling once again, an adventure to one of the series most famous filming locations might be just the thing to lure you out of your Hobbit Hole. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about Hobbiton.
Yes, it’s a real place.
Though practical considerations often require the use of a soundstage, that simply wouldn’t do for the idyllic home of Middle Earth’s most peaceful beings. While location scouting in the late ’90s, an aerial search drew Peter Jackson and co. to Alexander Farm, a 12-acre sheep farm in Waikato, a region just southof Auckland on the North Island. With lush pastures and rolling fields for miles around, they knew at once that this was their Hobbiton.
It’s been open since 2002
After most of the set was struck when filming concluded on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a few structures were left standing and this formed the basis of the initial Hobbiton tours, which began sometime after Fellowship of the Ring was released.
When the crew returned to work on The Hobbit films, the village was reconstructed and made into the stunning Hobbiton movie set you see there today.
A fellowship is required for this particular journey
Unfortunately, Hobbiton has a “no admittance except on guided tour business” policy. As tempting as it might be to venture into Hobbiton yourself, only Gandalf the Grey gets to ride in on his own personal horse and cart. For the rest of us mere mortals, the only way to experience Hobbiton is with a guided group tour. Private tours are available as well, though, if you’d rather keep your merry band of travelers to a small group of up to six.
Second Breakfast is a very real thing in Hobbiton
You’ve had one breakfast, but what about second breakfast? Hobbiton has you covered by offering a tour of the movie set first thing in the morning followed by breakfast at the brand-new Millhouse on select weekends. At only an hour longer than the standard tour, it still gives you plenty of time to make sure you get in your other 5 square meals that day.
They brew their own ale
Ale, beer, cider. The ABC’s of brewing are all here, and all locally made. Drinks from Hobbiton’s very own Southfarthing Range are included with every tour, but for those who might like to sample more than one beverage, the Evening Banquet tour gives you the opportunity to do just that.
The evening tour not only includes dinner and drinks at the Green Dragon Inn, but also the chance to walk around the set by lantern-light.
You can visit for the holidays
Not content to just be a set tour that serves food sometimes, Hobbiton also hosts several celebrations throughout the year, from their beer festival, to Christmas, to the Summer Harvest Festival in February. But before you think they forgot the biggest celebration of them all…
You can celebrate International Hobbit Day
When is International Hobbit Day, you ask? And what is it, for that matter? International Hobbit Day, September 22, is also the birthday of none other than Bilbo Baggins himself, as well as his nephew Frodo Baggins. At five hours, this is the longest of the tours offered, though granted most of that time will be spent partying, Hobbit-style.
You can get married there
If you’ve ever wanted to live out your Samwise Gamgee/Rosie Cotton fantasies, Hobbiton actually offers wedding packages to give your special day that Middle Earth flare.
There is no gift shop on the premises
At least not quite. While Hobbiton itself is confined to the movie set and the dining experiences, there is a gift shop located a short distance away at Shire’s Rest. Fortunately, Shire’s Rest also happens to be the pick-up and drop-off point for the busses that carry all would-be Hobbits into town. As the busses are no longer picking up from Rotura or Matamata, all tours depart from Shire’s Rest, which features not only a gift shop, but a café and a meeting space known as The Hub.
It’s not the only thing the area has to offer
The convenient location of the Hobbiton set, and the fact that the tour only takes between two to four hours depending on your experience, means that there’s plenty of time to experience the other wonders and beauties of New Zealand. For those interested in maintaining a fantastical tone to their trip, consider making the relatively short drive over to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, home to a species of glowworm found only in New Zealand.
The road goes ever on and on, and if you find yourself itching to see the door where it began, you can learn more about Hobbiton visits, including their new safety protocols, here.