The first day of spring was a perfect day to fulfill a nerdy high school dream and visit Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand. I was a little concerned about the pricing (NZ$139 to purchase a bus ticket and the set tour) but decided to go for it anyway. The bus drive turned out to be an easy journey with increasingly lovely views on the drive South on the island. The urban skyline gave way to suburbs and eventually revealed the farmlands I previously only saw on postcards. Softly rolling hills in emerald green swirled across the landscape, dotted with sheep and lambs in a vibrant tableau.
After a couple of simple bus transfers the group arrived at Matamata. Quaint shops lined the streets, the windows painted with bright depictions of Hobbiton. After a short wait, a bus arrived to take the eagerly waiting group to the Hobbiton set and farm.
Our tour guide, a local Kiwi, informed us that we were welcome to change into costumes if we had them. He said in addition to hobbits and orcs, they’ve seen guests dressed as Harry Potter, Chewbacca and Spider Man.
The set was impeccably elaborate and everything was real. The gardens produce real vegetables, and every plant is cultivated to retain the look of the films! The “party tree” is a gorgeous piece of foliage overlooking the lake, part of the original farmland. I felt excited to re-watch the new Hobbit film and compare details. We were given plenty of time to wander the grounds, enjoying commentary from our guide and taking photos.
After exploring the grounds, guests on the tour were welcomed into the Green Dragon pub for a “free” half pint of ale served in a handmade stoneware cup. (The beer was included in admission on the tour.) The pub also served a small menu of items – I chose a beef and ale pie that was mouthwateringly savory.
After a brief respite at the Green Dragon, we were herded back on the shuttle and headed home, tired and happy. The trip was worth every penny!