As we arrived in New Zealand one of the places to visit that found its way to the top of Dave’s bucket list was the Hobbiton Movie Set. We started our adventure in New Zealand by travelling the North Island and seeing all there between the two main cities, Auckland and Wellington. As a die-hard Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fan, there was no way he was letting us miss it. I, however, don’t share the ‘die-hard fan’ title so when I saw the Hobbiton entrance fee to see the Hobbiton movie set I was a little spectacle.
As a budget traveller, it was certainly above our daily budget per person let alone for two tickets. But of course, there was no way I wasn’t letting Dave visit the movie set so we sucked up and spent the big bucks. So was the Hobbiton entrance fee worth it? I’ll be revealing all in this post as well as some of the photography from the day.
The Hobbiton Entrance Fee: Ticket Price
Let’s not beat around the bush here and get straight into the nitty-gritty here. The tickets to tour the Hobbiton Movie Set aren’t cheap. As one of the biggest tourist attractions on the North Island of New Zealand, you expect to pay. But as a budget traveller with tight daily costs to stick to it can be tricky to decide what’s worth the hard-earned and what’s not. So how much do the tickets actually cost to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set? It depends on the tick you buy. There are a variety of tickets available some including extras, VIP tours, private tours, it’s all available. But the cost for a standard tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set will set you back $84 per person/42 Great British Pounds.
You can see why as someone who isn’t crazy about LOTR why I was a little hesitant.
What’s included in the standard Hobbiton Movie Set tour?
I personally expect a great day out when I’m paying $84 per person which for us as a couple was even more. And I have a few pros and cons when it came to what was included in the movie set tour. For this ticket price the tour looks like this:
- 2 Hour Guided Tour or the Hobbiton Movie Set
- Coach to and from The Shires Rest (the location from where the tour departs)
- One alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage in The Green Dragon Inn
- Photograph opportunities throughout the tour
First of all, I won’t make you read the whole thing. In a word, the tour was brilliant! Yes, the cost was steep but it was definitely worth it. Of course, there were some things that I thought could be improved due to the cost but I can totally see why they run it how they do. The two things that I thought were a little underwhelming was the two-hour time limit and the short amount of time given to drink up in the Inn. I also think that there should be a little exploration time to take extra photographs on the way around. More on that as I go into details of how the tour works below.
Do You Need a Guide for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Yes. There is no other way to see the movie set than by guided tour. Which I know can be annoying but after visiting I can see why. It would probably get ruined if people were allowed free roam and it is built on someone’s farmland too!
How the Tour Works after paying the Hobbiton Entrance Fee
Driving to the Set
As you arrive at The Shires Rest you need to exchange your online ticket for a physical one in the ticket office so be sure to arrive with plenty of time before your tour departure time. Once it’s time for your allocated tour you’ll drive through the hills via coach for about 10 minutes. As you drive enjoy the scenery of the misty mountains and rolling hills that line the horizon. It’s instantly obvious why they chose this area of New Zealand for the Hobbiton Movie Set.
As well as enjoying the view make sure you pay attention to the film playing to the coach. Listen as Sir Peter Jacksons explains exactly how and why this location was chosen by the location scouts. You’ll also be introduced to Russell Alexander the owner of the farm where ‘the shire’ came to life. The short film is super interesting and you’ll learn a lot about the making, and destroying, of the Hobbiton movie set.
The Walking Tour
Once you arrive at the Hobbiton Movie Set the coach departs and the rest of the tour is done on foot. You have two hours in total from when the coach sets off so I think we spent around 1 hour 5 hours in the outdoor set. Though this was plenty of time to see everything on the Hobbiton set I would’ve liked more time. I think that’s got a lot to do with taking photographs. The Shire has been built was beautifully and oozes with creativity and fantasy. It’s a land where make-believe comes to life and I could’ve spent all day taking it in and photographing it all. 1.5 hours may be perfectly fine for others not too bothered about spending 10 minted trying to create the perfect scene through their lens, sorry not sorry.
Wander Past the Different Hobbit Holes..
The tour guide will guide you up and down through the hills and past the different Hobbit holes. Any questions about the making of the films will be answered by your tour guide as these guys are definitely mega fans! They know everything there is to know about the films and the creation that it Hobbiton. There are a few rules when exploring the set like staying with your tour at all times, not speeding ahead into other tour groups, not hogging the hobbit holes to take 100 photographs and not stepping on the grass. And these guys mean business. If you’re caught on that grass you will be told! This is completely understandable as the preservation of the set is key to keeping ‘the shire’ looking as it has done for all these years following the film releases.
Drinking in The Green Dragon Inn
One of the best things about the tour was enjoying the beverage inside The Green Dragon Inn! It feels just as magical inside as it looks outside. Roaring fires and thick oak furniture it’s delightful. The beer available inside the inn is brewed especially for Hobbiton and nowhere else which is pretty cool. But 10 minutes isn’t enough time. I would’ve like to have had longer to enjoy the inn and savour my beverage. As would I have enjoyed having some more time to explore around the outside of the inn and take a few final photos. That said as you can see I managed to get plenty of photographs anyway!
As you depart the Hobbiton Movie Set hop back on the coach and it’ll escort you back to The Shires Rest. Make sure you leave time to take a look in the gift shop afterwards!
Overall I 100% recommend the tour of the movie set. If you’re a LOTR lover then you’re bound to enjoy it no matter what the cost. I’ll admit I left the tour feeling like I needed to properly sit and rewatch the films. I was that idiotic person who put their hand up when the tour guy asked ‘is there anyone willing to admit they haven’t seen the films?’.
Other Tickets Available
For those mega fans in question, you can choose from other variations of the tour as well. The Hobbiton entrance fee will be more but the experience more in-depth. I’ve given an outline of other types of tours that you can take below or you can take a look at the official Hobbiton Movie Set website here.
- Standard Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: $84 per person
- Standard Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Matamata with transfer: $84 per person
- Evening Banquet Tour – Dine in The Green Dragon Inn: $195 per person
- Tour and Lunch Combo: $120
Interesting Facts about LOTR and the Movie Sets
Alongside being visually pleasing our visit to Hobbiton was educational too. I learnt a lot about the area, the making of the films, set, cast, it was very eye-opening and amazing to see just how much work and detail goes into the preserving the movie sets. I’ve listed my favourite facts that I learnt on the day about LOTR and the set below:
- The Alexander farm was chosen as the movie set because of the lake on the farm. Their neighbour was in the running but lost out because of that damn lake!
- The first movie set that was created for LOTR was totally demolished after filming. It was after rebuilding the second that Russel Alexander wanted to keep the set as it was for tours.
- The tree that sits on top of Bilbo Baggings house is completely FAKE.
- The tree was created by artists and a week before filming was due to begin Sir Peter Jackson decided he didn’t like the tree and asked the team to rebuild it! Safe to say he wasn’t in their good books.
- At the end of the Return of the King when Sam returns home it’s his real daughter that comes running out of the Hobbit hole and Sean Astin had no idea! He’s been away for over a year and it was a total surprise come film day – so a real moment was captured!
- The extras at Bilbo’s party were all locals from the town of Matamata, not actors.
- The whole panoramic view of The Shire only features in the first film for a whole 8 seconds.
It’s insane how much work goes into creating a movie set. Though I knew that already it was captivating to see it all in real life. I don’t call myself a huge movie buff so visiting movie sets isn’t something I do often on my travels but I couldn’t have enjoyed this one more!
Where is the Hobbiton Movie Set?
Onto the more boring but practicalities of visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set where is it? Located on the North Island of New Zealand just outside of a town called Matamata. There are a few different options when getting to the movie set but the easiest is to drive. There are various tour companies that run tours from nearby cities like Auckland and Rotorua. For more information on day trips to Hobbiton Movie Set then take a look at this website. There’s also the option to get a transfer from the Matamata visitor centre to start of the tour. This is a great option if you don’t have the option of your own transport and are staying locally in the town. There is no public transport that goes directly to Hobbiton only organised bus tours.
Parking at the Hobbiton Movie set
If you do have a vehicle then you can park for free at The Shires Rest. They have park suit all kinds of vehicles from buses, campers and cars. The movie set is about 20 minutes drive from the actual town along country roads so there was no traffic when we arrived for the 10 am tour. That said if you have an earlier tour booked to make sure to plan ahead for traffic in rush hour.
Camping Near the Hobbiton Movie Set
New Zealand is a great country to hire a campervan. It’s freedom camping friendly which will save you a lot of money! Check out my post on the best freedom campsites on the North Island here. But in terms of camping near Hobbiton, we actually didn’t find many freedom camping spots so we stayed at Brocks Place.
Brocks Place is a family-run farm who rent out a patch in their garden to campers. It’s $8 per person/4 Great British Pounds with an extra charge of $2 per person/1 GBP for a hot shower. The site offers non-powered sites only but it’s a wonderful spot for the night. With picture-perfect views of the misty mountains and rolling hills, it’s a hidden gem when it comes to camping near Hobbiton. The sunrise is worth getting up for too! Located a 5-minute drive from Hobbiton it’s perfect for those earlier tours.
Accommodation in Matamata
For those not camping there are plenty of accommodation choices in the town of Matamata. There is one backpacker’s hostel in the town originally named ‘Matamata Backpackers’ which has great reviews on booking.com. Closely followed by Denchys B&B and Matamata Central Motel. Prices are varied starting at $59 for the backpackers based on two people sharing and up to $166 for the motel. There are accommodation options for every budget in the town. In summer I would look at pre-booking both the tour and accommodation in Matamata. We visited the Hobbiton Movie Set in Winter and it was still packed out.
Sharing is Caring!
Even with the steep Hobbiton entrance fee, this day out is totally worth out. It may only be a few hours but it was still worth every penny. The movie set is so popular and tours are often booked out every single day all year round so they have to limit the amount of time for the tour. I hope you enjoyed this post and even if you’re not a mega LOTR fan you’ll still have a great time, I did! If you did enjoy this post I would be so grateful if you could share it with your friends!
Safe Travels, I hope you manage to visit this cute little haven of magic despite the steep Hobbiton entrance fee!