The Hobbiton Movie Set is located near Matamata, a small agricultural town in the Waikato region, in New Zealand. Originally the property of The Alexander family, it was a 1,200-acre farmland and livestock ranch. But when The Hobbit movie director, Peter Jackson saw this land during an aerial search, he knew this was the perfect ground for making J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination come to life.
After negotiations with the owners, the transformation of the land began in March 1999. It included building 37 hobbit hole facades, gardens and hedges, a mill and a double arch bridge, as well as lifting a 29-ton oak, and recreating it to suit the book’s description of Bag End. The original set was not built to last, but only to be used for the purposes of the movie. However, as the popularity of the movies grew, so did the public’s interest in this magical looking place.
In 2010, before the filming of the prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the set was rebuilt to be more permanent and soon became a proper tourist attraction, offering a two-hour guided tour and many accompanying facilities. Highlights of the tour include Bagshot Row, the Party Tree, and Bilbo’s Bag End home. There are 44 hobbit holes on sight, some of which have been made to resemble actual homes that you can enter and see the earth-walled interiors from the movies for yourself.
After the tour, you can stop for refreshments at the “Shires Rest Cafe” or have a breakfast at the “Second Breakfast” restaurant. There is also the famous replica of the Green Dragon pub, where you can have a beer and enjoy the authentic movie atmosphere, surrounded by props and various Hobbit memorabilia.