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A Tour of Hobbiton – Movie Set Tour 2017

This article is for the terrain builders and Lord of the Ring enthusiasts. First proper one about the trip to New Zealand, so enjoy!

After we arrived in Auckland, our first stop along our route through the Northern Island of New Zealand was near Matamata, in Hobbiton. While driving through Waikato we already got the "shire vibe" and half an hour before arriving there, you already knew - this must be the place. It was cloudy at first, but it brightened up during the day.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

Arriving near Matamata, the Hobbiton Movie Set tour starts at the Shire's Rest. It is a small cafe with store enclosed, from where you get into the coaches and drive onto the former movie set. In July it is winter in New Zealand, so we expected less people, but the Lions Tour was held at the same time, so a lot of Brits and Irish in their distinctive red clothes were around for the tour. You can either drive by yourself to the Shire's Rest or get picked up at Rotorua. Tickets for the roughly 1,5-2 hrs tour are about 80 NZD (~50 EUR) and should be booked in advance, as even in winter the tours can be sold it rather quickly.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

On the coach a movie starts and tells the story of the area. The guests are greeted by Peter Jackson and introduced to the set up of the privately owned farm of the Alexander family. The whole village of Hobbiton was not built to last for the first set of movies. But later with the return to the site for the Hobbit, the village was build as a permanent set up, to be used as a touristic attraction after the movies.

Each tour is guided. Ours was by a very friendly and motivated kiwi named Kim, who took care of us and made sure everybody arrived savely at the Green Dragons Inn and had the chance to take proper pictures.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

The hobbit holes are built in different scales, depending if they would only be needed for some scenic shots / background, or if they would be used for close up. So the sizes vary from 60-90% in scale. Only a few have actually some kind of interior, but they can't be entered and the space is only used to store some tools and things that are needed for maintenance (as you can see in the picture with the gardener).

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

The garden that can be seen in the upper row is the real deal, with living plants and is harvested. While rebuilding Hobbiton they mixed yoghurt to the plaster and filler, to enhance the growth of cultures and moss. The paint and finishes look much older than they really are and it is amazing, that this is really just a movie set, as everything is so vivid and livelike.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

The main attraction of the tour is of course the door to Bag End, on top of which stands a 29 ton oak, with artificial leaves. Some poor lad had to repaint all of them, as Peter Jackson felt they were the wrong kind of green. You can't go into Bag End as for on the interior is just large enough to be able to take shots from the inside towards the town and a fence keeps the visitors out.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

The whole town is like mentioned above very vivid. A lot of small details, with road signs, wells and tools in front of the houses as well as the large fairground and tree. You can see from the way the houses look, who lives there. The fisherman has a smoking chamber along with fishing rods, the carpenter has saws, tools and benches in front of the house.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

Whole New Zealand was in turmoil, and even Hobbiton was not safe from the impact of the Lions tour, so they set up a small rugby green including the scores next to the fairground and bridge. Along with a proper reserve of ale for the players.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

After the tour routes you around the upper village, along the different hobbit holes and the fairground, we came across the bridge and the enclosed mill. The tour ends in the Green Dragons Inn and each ticket includes a beverage from the bar. You can choose from two different brews, a cider and a ginger beer. You can even get a meal there, and I was surprised that the prices for the food were reasonable (especially if you keep in mind - this is a tourist attraction). The pub is very welcoming and warm, with a lot of little details. There is a large tent next to it for the special Evening Banquet tours and private events.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

After roughly 20 minutes at the Inn, we head back outside, along the pond and garden back to the coachs. Another movie is played, summing up the tour and Sir Peter Jackson thanking you for your visit.

A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017 A Tour of Hobbiton - Movie Set Tour 2017

I took a lot of pictures and tried to do some close ups for the fellow terrain builders. I hope you enjoyed this article and it helps you with your (next/ongoing/current) projects or the decision if you want to go there yourself. The tickets aren't cheap, I'm aware of that, but the tour is worth it - even if you're not that much into the Hobbit / Lord of the Rings. I have seen the movies and liked them, but wouldn't go so far to call myself a fan of the franchise (I'm not Stephen Colbert). But I enjoyed the time and it was impressive to see. Beside that for the most people, visiting New Zealand is a rare opportunity and something that you might be only doing once in your lifetime.

While we were there, at least 4 to 5 other groups were around, in the time slots before and after use. They even offer special tours in mandarine in addition to the regular english ones (but you can get your leaflet / handbook in other languages, like german for example). You noticed that they have an eye on the schedule, but it was never to tight, so you had those additional minutes to take another picture and so on. I can imagine, that this is something, that might be difficult during summer, as there are very likely a lot more people and tours going on.

Have you been there yourself? Did you enjoy it? Are you planning to go there? Did you build your own hobbit holes for a LotR wargame? Let me know in the comments.

Link: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Link: Wikipedia Hobbiton

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