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My Epic Round the World Trip / New Zealand / Oceania

A Sensational Evening on the Hobbiton Movie Set Banquet Tour

Lady sitting outside a hobbit house with a blue door

Hobbiton was a location high on our “must-see-whilst-in-New-Zealand” list. We were on the Oceania leg of our 3-month epic round the world trip and would be spending two weeks exploring the North Island. The Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour sounded like a lot of fun, so we worked it into our New Zealand itinerary.

Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story. J.R.R.Tolkien

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a man and woman outside a hobbit hole
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Is Hobbiton a real place?

“Does everyone know where they are?” called out our Hobbiton guide as my son and I stood around eagerly awaiting for our tour to begin. We all looked at one another with a puzzled expression and nodded our heads in unison. Why was she asking such an obvious question?

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies are not as popular in some countries as in others. The result of this is that visitors book onto tours without realising that Hobbiton is a film set. Our guide continued to inform us that certain visitors arrive thinking Hobbiton is an authentic New Zealand village. Thankfully, my tour group were all avid Lord Of The Ring fans, and so we all knew where we were!

I’m going on an adventure, J.R.R.Tolkien.

Hobbiton is close to the town of Matamata in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. This area was originally a working farm owned by the Alexander family, but all that changed in 1998. Film director Peter Jackson flew across in his helicopter and chose its green rolling pastures as the site of The Shire, the village in which the hobbits lived in their unique hobbit holes.

Construction began in March 1999. By the end of the year filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy had commenced. In 2002 demolition of the site was all but completed as the filming had finished, but Peter Jackson decided to return in 2009 to film the Hobbit trilogies and rebuild the set as you can see it today.  The rest is history, and the 12-acre site became the focal point for not only the blockbusters derived from JRR Tolkein’s books but for the 650,000 die-hard fans that visit every year.

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort! J.R.R.Tolkien

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Pinterest Graphic Hobbiton

What can you expect on the Hobbiton Tour? 

The tour starts with a guided walk around The Shire at dusk. Small groups of visitors, each with a personal guide are led along the lanes and told interesting behind the scenes stories and funny things that had happened on set. We found out that in one shot Sir Ian McKellan, who played Gandalf the Wizard, hit his head quite badly on the rafters of the Green Dragon Inn. In true thespian style, he continued acting, and it stayed in the film. Now, whenever I see that scene, it reminds me of my fabulous experience at Hobbiton.

Regular photo stops are incorporated as you wander around the 12-acre site passing orchards, veggie patches, and of course, the 44 colourful hobbit holes. The tour guides are happy to suggest good places to take photographs for optimum effect. After all, not many people get to visit the hobbit holes of Sam, Bilbo, and Frodo Baggins, do they?

Separating fact from fiction in Hobbiton

Only a few of the hobbit holes have doors that open, but even so, it is exciting to go inside these empty shells. You have to remind yourself that filming inside the hobbit holes took place in the Weta Workshop in Wellington and not here! It took us by surprise to learn that the vegetables growing in the plots were real and that they have a group of full-time gardeners looking after the vegetables and the flowers.

Another surprising insight was that the giant oak tree above Bilbo’s house has artificial leaves and that every one of them had been hand-painted. The tree only featured in the film for seconds which goes to show the level of realism required.

Hobbiton is so realistic that it is hard to differentiate between real and fake!

Not all that glitters is gold and not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

a green doored hobbit hole
a hobbit hole covered with flowers
 
a yellow doored hobbit hole

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As you cross the bridge over the lake as the night starts to creep in the warm glow of the Green Dragon is a welcoming sight.

We were enchanted by the setting and the minute details that were noticeable all around The Shire. Notice boards, quirky signs, and props that made you think a hobbit may be hiding somewhere. I’m sure I saw a pair of hairy hobbit feet sticking out from under a bush.

Bridge over the lake in Hobbiton
Bridge in Hobbiton
Green Dragon
outside of the Green Dragon

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What can you expect at the Hobbiton Evening Banquet?

Once inside the Green Dragon, you will be seated at one of the banqueting tables. Traditional Hobbit fayre of chicken drumsticks, roast potatoes, and salmon is served to you on thick wooden platters. Alcoholic beverages are an extra cost, but no respectful Hobbit fan would leave the Green Dragon without a flagon of beer, would they?

The concept is for guests to share the banquet between them, serving one another from the same selections. Dessert is laid out in the centre of the table in the same manner as the main course so that everyone can share it. Pavlova, fresh fruit salad, chocolate puddings, trifle, cake, and biscuits are all in plentiful supply.

It may be hard to decide which one to choose, so if you are like us (and the hobbit folk), and have a sweet tooth, why not try a little of everything! Food is plentiful, the selections are varied, and it is all delicious.

During dinner is a great time to interact with your fellow travellers and learn a little more about their journey.

And now leave me in peace for a bit! I don’t want to answer a string of questions while I am eating. I want to think! J.R.R.Tolkien

Hobbiton Evening Banquet

Sadly your evening banquet will eventually come to an end, and you must say your farewells.

A lantern is given to you to guide you back through a moonlit Hobbiton. The Shire glows from lanterns and fairy lights, and smoking hobbit hole chimneys make you question whether this is just a film set or whether there may be a hobbit or even a wizard lurking inside them.

a man and woman in the light of the evening

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. J.R.R.Tolkien

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Information to help you plan your trip to Hobbiton

How to Get to Hobbiton

501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata.

Hobbiton is about a 2-hour drive from Auckland and a 1-hour drive from Rotorua. It is the perfect destination to come on a day trip from Auckland and you can either drive yourself or book onto one of the many tours that include Hobbiton in their itinerary.

If you are only coming for the evening banquet and making your way back home, then you need to factor in the driving distances to get back to Auckland or the surrounding areas. The Evening Banquet Tour will end at 10 pm, and so you should be prepared for a long drive back at night.

Where to Stay near Hobbiton

Matamata was where we chose to stay as we didn’t want the long drive back to Auckland; however, it was reasonably tricky finding a B and B for just one night. We eventually booked with Eldonwood Bed & Breakfast, which was comfortable, spotlessly clean, and offered a fantastic selection of breakfast essentials. The hosts allowed us a key so that we could let ourselves in after our late return in the evening. The distance from the property to Hobbiton was just under 6 miles with on-site parking.

How to Get Tickets

Book your tickets online. The Evening Banquet Tour is extremely popular, and I booked mine three months in advance to get the exact dates I wanted.

The Evening Banquet Tour lasts for 4 hours.

Pricing and timings for the Evening Banquet Tour are here.

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About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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John -Carpediemeire
John -Carpediemeire
10 months ago

This is the first time I’ve ever read in depth about Hobbiton. Needless to say it sounds even better now. Particularly because of that hobbit feast. And the desserts. What an enchanting place.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  John -Carpediemeire
10 months ago

I’m glad my blog has highlighted what a great place it is to visit. It is indeed an enchanting place 😃

CHELSEA MESSINA
10 months ago

How freaking adorable are these?! This post was like a fairy tale adventure book, but real life. You always find the coolest places to stay! Definitely pinning this for future travel spots!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  CHELSEA MESSINA
10 months ago

It was a really fantastic place to visit!

Jan
10 months ago

Looks like a great experience! I have been in NZ but not to Matamata. This must be a magical tour for die-hard Lord of the Rings fans. I love your pictures, especially the one taken from inside the rounded frame looking over mountains and sheep far away. The banquet spread looks inviting! 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jan
10 months ago

It was a fantastic experience and its setting as you saw from my photos is so beautiful.

Slavka
10 months ago

Lovely! I can’t believe some people think it’s real. Your photos perfectly show the place. Although I am not a big fan of the series, I would like to visit the village when I visit New Zealand.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Slavka
10 months ago

I think it is a place to visit whether or not you are a LOTR fan. It is absolutely charming.

Wendy White
11 months ago

I enjoyed seeing your photos and hearing all about your time there. We had to miss out on going as there were too many places I wanted to see in such a small amount of time. I’d definitely look at this option next time though.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Wendy White
11 months ago

The first time we visited NZ we didn’t visit Hobbiton either as we were doing both islands and had so much to fit in. This time we just concentrated on the North Island so could make it to Hobbiton. So glad we did.

Marguerite Cleveland
11 months ago

Hobbiton who knew? I am familiar with the stories but not a die hard fan but this looks like so much fun. Will definitely put on my list. Great photos and very helpful information on how to tour Hobbiton in New Zealand. The banquet looked so good and getting to see Hobbiton at night looks like a very special experience.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Marguerite Cleveland
11 months ago

If you ever get to NZ I hope you can make it to Hobbiton, it is such a whimsical place to visit and the banquet was delicious.

Chloe Prince
Chloe Prince
11 months ago

Loved this!!! To be able to go inside the green dragon and have a feast like that is a dream!!! It looks such a magical place, wish I could go there now! Thanks again for another great read can’t wait for the next one 🤩

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Chloe Prince
11 months ago

I do hope that one day you can get there. It is a fantastic place to visit whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan or just curious to visit somewhere so unique.

WhereAngieWanders
Admin
11 months ago

The evening tour is also so much quieter as there are only a few guests that are going to be attending the banquet. The guide told me that there are thousands of tourists visiting during the day!

Nic Peters
Nic Peters
11 months ago

Hiya Angie! Can I just say that not only am I a keen traveller but I’m an avid LOTR fan and to know that the spoils of the green dragon can be available not only to hobbits but us mere humans too is just enchanting 😁 another unknown to add to the bucket list thanks to you 🤩

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nic Peters
11 months ago

Really glad you enjoyed reading all about this fantastic place. Now you know it exists let’s hope you can get there one day.

Donny
Donny
11 months ago

Hi Angie.

I Loved reading this blog on Hobbiton. I have been to Routarouer but never knew Hobbiton was so close.
I’m a bit gutted to be honest as I am a fan of the lord of the rings films but reading your blog i feel like I have been there. THANK YOU.

PS the banquet table looks soooooo good.

🍖

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Donny
11 months ago

So glad you enjoyed reading the post but what a shame that you didn’t get to visit Hobbiton when you were so nearby. Maybe it calls for another trip there!

Ryan
11 months ago

This place sounds like so much fun. I loved the Lord Of The Rings movies. I’m glad they had an excuse to rebuild the set (The Hobbit movies weren’t nearly as great) so people can visit it now.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Ryan
11 months ago

It really was a fun place to visit and the food was amazing!

Bernie and Jess Watt
11 months ago

Great article – super in-depth and lovely photos and videos. The art direction and attention to detail are truly epic!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Bernie and Jess Watt
11 months ago

Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed reading about such an iconic place.

Kevin Leitch
11 months ago

This is amazing. I knew this existed but haven’t seen it first hand. I had no idea about the evening banquet either! I could spend ALL DAY there! Such a great post!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Kevin Leitch
11 months ago

I am so glad you enjoyed it. Hobbiton is such a special place its hard to believe its only a film set!

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