Land of the Hobbits - Middle Earth - New Zealand
The Shire, according to Tolkien, is a “small but beautiful, idyllic and fruitful land”; a place loved by its inhabitants – those hairy-footed, pipe-smoking men (and women) who stand no more than four-foot high. Tolkien used Imperial measure but for the metrically-inclined, that’s just 1.22 metres.
Today’s visitors, are well past loving The Shire. They’ve come from far and wide – from Europe, Asia and North America – to worship at the shrine, or more precisely, at 44 Hobbit holes.
Hobbiton, the movie set built by director Peter Jackson to recreate that blissful rural landscape in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies, is nirvana for hundreds of thousands of devoted Tolkien and cinema fans.
It’s hardly surprising that Hobbiton, painstakingly-built on a portion of privately-owned sheep and dairy farmland just a little south of the North Island town of Matamata, is a huge hit with fans. J.R.R. Tolkien’s books – both The Hobbit and the trilogy – have sold more than 100 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages. And Jackson’s movies, released from 2001 to 2014, have been devoured by them and also found a whole new band of followers.
Hobbiton itself dates back to 1998 when Peter Jackson spied the 550-hectare farm on an aerial search for location sites. His scout contacted the farm owners, the Alexander’s, and despite a bit of initial reluctance on their part, the plan was set in motion.
Building began in March 1999 when the New Zealand army arrived to clear the site (the soldiers later played ‘orcs’, fearsome humanoid warriors, in the films) and the three-month filming schedule started later that year. The scenes shot during that period were used in the first and third instalments – The Fellowship of the Ring (released in 2001) and The Return of the King (2003).
Jackson chose the site for its verdant rolling hills, the absence of power lines and roads and a huge pine tree in the middle of a field. That pine perfectly fitted the bill as the ‘party tree’ around which hobbits gathered for celebrations.
That first film set was made of temporary materials only – 7mm plywood and polystyrene. The second movie set, reconstructed in 2011 of vastly more durable materials, built when Jackson decided it was time to start filming the eagerly-awaited The Hobbit trilogy.
Our Lord of the Rings private tours. Bespoke, tailored to you with the luxury of time. Our guided tours have been popular with our guests from the time the first movie was released.