We booked a very special stop on our way to our next destination after Rotorua: Hobbiton. This is NZ’s most famous and extensive Lord of the Rings experience and really delivered a top notch tourist experience.
The town nearest, Matamata, has also claimed the title of Hobbiton (see Nate below). However to us Matamata is a nortorious spot, as it was home to one of the bigger Covid clusters here. It was one of the locations we heard about day after day in press conferences. We only had a quick lunch there, but seems a rather bustling medium-sized town.
Hobbiton (the actual one) is was used in filming both Tolkien trilogies, though the houses we saw were only in the Hobbit movies. The original set for the LOTR franchise was built to be temporary and was taken down upon the end of filming. However after those movies’ insanely successful runs, the land owner surely saw $$ and so the original set was recreated in durable materials for the filming of second trilogy and beyond. I’m glad they did. It is a gorgeous spot and we learned quite a bit about the movie making process. The weirdest part? The entire set is in the middle of a private farm. You drive through pasture land to get the the hobbit holes. I had no idea.
It’s so far into the farm that the director asked the government for help building the road to the site. The Prime Minister (Helen Clark) obliged by sending an army crew. Many were then cast as Orcs in the films!
We were lucky our group of about 30 had the place to ourselves. Normally thousands visit a day with many groups swarming the property at one time.