New Zealand,  Oceania,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Hobbiton Movie Set (New Zealand): a dream come true

From Waitomo, we drive to Hobbiton Movie Set and sleep in a campsite next door. If we first visit Waitomo and Hobbiton before going to Coromandel, it’s because the weather forecast indicates that there is more chance of good weather if we go to Hobbiton right away (the shortest way would be, from Rotorua, to go first to Coromandel and then Waitomo) Visiting Hobbiton in the rain? Never of the life!

If you’re not a fan of The Lord of the Rings, forget about this article, as it will focus “oh” and “ah” on the beauty of the location, the attention to detail and anecdotes that only those who have seen the movie can understand. That’s why JB decides not to do the tour. At 79$NZ a ticket, he has no desire to visit it knowing that he won’t enjoy it completely

Like all the articles about New Zealand, the 1st version of my article will be without pictures. I will complete them when I have a better connection

Part 1: Travel Diary

The Hobbiton Movie Set Story

Hobbiton Movie Set, what is it? Remember The Shire, where the hobbits live ? Didn’t you feel like having a “hobbit hole” like that ? dug in the hills ? The first thing I thought about when I learned that the film was shot in New Zealand was to visit it one day. I didn’t think that (1) I was really going to visit NZ (2) that the location would be kept for the fans of the film

It is really the only place where The Hobbit was filmed in New Zealand that has been kept exactly as it was. Of course, this place was also used for The Lord of the Rings, but as no one knows if it will be a hit or a flop, the contract stipulates that the film crew has to return the farm to its original state and remove all the sets. After the success of the film, for the shooting of The Hobbit, Peter Jackson came back to the same place and this time, it takes 2 years to recreate everything. For everyone’s happiness, the farmer and the director agreed to leave everything in place

Today, the farmer’s brother takes care of the commercial part of the place and he is doing well, everything is very well organized and very professional. I would like to point out that the hobbit holes are only true in their outward appearance. All the indoor scenes were built and shot at the studio in Wellington

We arrive at Hobbiton Movie Set at 9:30 am to learn that the next departure is only at 10:45 am. For once, we should have booked in advance, next door, there is absolutely nothing to do

To get to Alexander’s Farm (the real name of the place), you have to take a trendy bus “Hobbiton Movie Set” lol. There is no way to have a view of this farm from the surroundings, it is really cut off from the world. This is also one of the reasons why it was chosen for the shooting: there is a big tree in the middle of the farm, hills of different heights, a lake and 0 power line (to be digitally erased). The location was spotted by the film crew when they flew over the NZ in a helicopter looking for the filming locations. At that time, there was no road leading to the farm, it was the New Zealand Army who created a road, moving the hills to create a flat area for a giant canteen

The visit

10 minutes of bus with a mini-film broadcast to refresh our memories, we finally arrive at the Shire. No hobbits hanging around, but it’s just as well. Two of the visitors in the same bus as me dress up as hobbits. They are so much fans that they came yesterday when it was raining and decide to come back today for a visit under the sun

We start with the small passage where Frodo blames Gandalf for being late. Then we go up the long path to Bilbo’s house, on the highest hill. It is really the most beautiful house, with more windows than the others, and an impressive view of The Shire

We go down to the Party Field before crossing the famous stone bridge and finish at the Green Dragon with a drink (included in the ticket)

I must say I am impressed with the attention to detail. It looks like this city is alive and inhabited. We see clothes stretched out, freshly collected honey, a vegetable garden, a mill… Inside the pub, you can see hobbits’ clothes on the coat rack, there are super comfortable armchairs and sofas in front of a real fireplace

The hobbit holes are made in different sizes to accentuate the contrast between the size of the men and the size of the hobbits on the screen. A hobbit will stand next to a large door to make it look small; and Gandalf will stand next to a small door to show that he is super tall

During the visit, the guide leaves us all the time we need to take pictures and admire the details. This is possible in spring, but certainly not in summer where they receive 10 times more visitors. If the visit is guided, it is also to prevent the souvenir collectors from damaging the place. And then, it’s always nice to have anecdotes about the films, the shootings

The visitors are all fans of the movie, 100% have already watched both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And they ask very specific questions about this or that scene. The guide is also sharp, because she is able to quote even scenes that only exist in the long version

One does not see the 1h30 pass. It is already time to take the bus and return to the real life. I quickly go to the shop to buy a small postcard and find JB to show him a lot of pictures

Part 2: Practical Tips

  • Reserve in advance to have the best visiting hours: before 11am and after 4pm
  • The tour is obligatory guided, but you will have plenty of time to take pictures. If you go alone, the guide will gladly take pictures of you, 10 times, 20 times if necessary
  • The ticket is expensive (NZ$79) so if you’ve never seen Peter Jackson’s movies, don’t go!

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