In a small hole in the ground, once lived a hobbit; and in the small Waikato town of Matamata lives a little magical piece of Middle Earth.
Finding Middle Earth
When the filming of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy confirmed, the challenge for film markers was finding the perfect set locations for these iconic novels. For many fans of the novels, the Shire was one of the most important locations get right. The Alexander farm on Buckland road was seen by the location scouts from above, with its rolling green hills and large Oak tree at the perfect setting for the Shire of Middle Earth. They could not have found a more perfect spot and Hobbiton was born.
J.R.R. Tolkien supposedly wrote about the Shire as a homage to the English countryside after he was sent away with the military in World War I. The shire war to represent everything those young men had to look forward to upon their (hopeful) return. The food & drink and simpler things in community life.
Life in Hobbiton
A semi-permanent outdoor set was built into the hills of the Alexander farm to represent Hobbiton during the filming of the LOTR trilogy and when the go-ahead was given to film the Hobbit trilogy the set was extended and upgraded to a permanent structure that you can visit today.
With arer 40 hobbit holes of various scales, full thriving and living vegetable patches and the smell of real wood burning stoves it is hard to think that this is just a film set when you visit. You half expect to great a few hobbits going about there everyday business. Although none of the hobbit holes have interiors (as this was studio filmed) but you can enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon, with a collection of traditional Southfarthing Ales and pies that Samwise would be proud of.
Absolutely no detail is spared in the making of the set. The tree atop Bag End (Bilbo & Frodo’s home) is completely fake not that you would really notice as some poor unlucky person had to hand wire all the synthetic leaves to the tree, but sadly the sun breached it make them the incorrect colour green (according to Sir Peter Jackson) and more unlucky people had to hand paint all the leaves. This is the way to spot which are in fake, as he leaves do not change colour.
About the tour
There are 2-hour guided tours, where you can have a picture inside a hobbit hole, outside Mr Baggins home and enjoy a free drink in the Green Dragon. Booking is essential! There are tours every 10 minutes and you can be collected from the Matamata Information Centre (i-site) or even from Rotorua if you have no transport to get there. There is a small shop for souvenirs and cafe (does a great caramel slice!) and you need to collect your tickets from the ticket office 10-15 minutes before the tour leaves.