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Is Hobbiton Worth Visiting? Must-see NZ or Tourist Trap?

Is Hobbiton worth visiting? If you’re going to New Zealand, Hobbiton is probably on your list of top destinations to see.

But is visiting Hobbiton worth it? This post will help you decide if a tour of Hobbiton will be worth the splurge!

Hobbiton is one of the most iconic New Zealand destinations. The hobbit holes are instantly recognizable.

Many fans of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy feel like they’re coming home when they set foot on the Hobbiton movie set. 

Other visitors haven’t seen the movies or read the books a hundred times. They might want to see Hobbiton, but wonder if all the excitement is worth it. 

When you’re deciding whether or not to visit Hobbiton, there are a lot of factors to weigh. It’s really a personal decision, based on lots of factors that are unique to you and your traveling companions.

You’ll want to consider how much you love the Hobbit and LOTR trilogies, how much time you have in New Zealand, and your budget. This post will help you decide if Hobbiton is worth it for you and your group. 

This is my personal review of the tour we took at the Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand. It includes information about the tour and answers questions that someone considering taking the Hobbiton tour might have, including the question: Is Hobbiton worth visiting?

About Hobbiton

JRR Tolkien studied English at Oxford, where he developed a love of old languages. He studied Old English, Anglo-Saxon, and Welsh. He experimented with creating a language of his own, which eventually became the language of Middle-Earth.

Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937, and the book quickly became popular with children and adults. After many years of writing, Tolkien published The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers in 1954. The Return of the King followed in 1954.

Tolkien published other books and stories, but none quite captured the world’s imagination in the way that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy did.

When hunting locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1998, movie director Sir Peter Jackson’s location scouts spotted an idyllic sheep farm tucked in the green hills of the Waikato region of New Zealand. Jackson decided this would be perfect for the LOTR movies and The Hobbit movies.

The Alexander family farm and the surrounding area was (and is) unspoiled: no power lines, buildings, roads, or other evidence of the modern era can be seen from the site.

It took nine months and lots of labor from the New Zealand Army to build Hobbiton in 1999. The site was almost completely dismantled after filming The Lord of the Rings.

Then, thirteen years later, the set was rebuilt for The Hobbit trilogy. This time, it was built to be a permanent site. 

When were The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies released?

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

2014: The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies

Hobbiton sits on a twelve-acre site and looks like a village in Middle Earth might look. It nestles into the bucolic countryside, just as a real village would. 

After its opening, Hobbiton instantly became one of New Zealand’s top tourist sites for international visitors and attracted a fair number of Kiwis as well! With the release of The Rings of Power, visitor numbers have surged again. 

You can only visit Hobbiton on a guided tour. Visitors cannot wander through and explore Hobbiton on their own. On the two-hour tour, you’ll get to see all of Hobbiton, and the time really does go by fast!

So read on to learn more about Hobbiton tours and whether I think they’re worth it!

What to expect on a tour of Hobbiton

To tour Hobbiton, guests first arrive at the Shire’s Rest, the visitors’ center. There is ample parking, a restaurant, ticket office, and gift shop. 

To start the tour, guests board a guided tour bus for a 15 minute bus ride through the picturesque New Zealand countryside to the movie set, which is on a private farm.

On the short bus ride, your tour guide will introduce themselves, share interesting facts about Hobbiton, and show clips from the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings movies. 

Once you arrive at the movie set, you’ll follow your Hobbiton guide on a walking tour. The guided tour will last about an hour and 15 minutes.

You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions about Hobbiton and take photos. Your guide will share behind-the scenes details about the making of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.

You’ll learn how the movie set was constructed and maintained, including secrets about what’s real and what’s not! 

At the end of the tour, you’ll stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary beverage (beer, hard cider, or non-alcoholic ginger beer). For an additional cost, you can  purchase food or more drinks.

Then you’ll walk back to the Banquet Hall where a return bus will take you to the Shires Rest visitors center. You can then stop by the gift shop or cafe for as long as  you like. 

The entire tour, from when you board the bus at Shires Rest to when you return, will take about two hours.

What you’ll see on a tour of Hobbiton

On your tour of Hobbiton, you’ll see spectacular scenic views of the rolling hills of the Waikato region of New Zealand. 

You’ll also see many recognizable landmarks including:

Hobbit Holes

At Hobbiton, there are 44 Hobbit holes, small round doorways nestled into the hillside. Guests can see and take photos of the Hobbit holes. 

In 2024, Hobbiton will unveil a new tour! Visitors will be able to see the interior of a Hobbit hole on Bagshot Row!

Tour time will increase so that guests can take their time to marvel at the detailed interior of a hobbit’s home.  

Until then, none of the Hobbit Holes have fully decorated interiors that visitors can explore. 

The Green Dragon Inn

Visitors can stop by the Green Dragon Inn, a pub that served as a meeting place for all of Hobbiton in The Hobbit and LOTR movies. Here, you can choose apple cider or non-alcoholic ginger beer as a complimentary beverage. 

The Mill, Millhouse, and Bridge

You’ll see the watermill and cross the stone bridge on your tour. There’s a Second Breakfast Tour that includes a hearty breakfast at the Millhouse. 

The Party Tree

You’ll see the enormous Party Tree that was the site of Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first birthday party.

Vegetable gardens

You’ll see the vegetable gardens of the Shire, complete with Hobbit-sized tools and props from the movies. 

Bag End

The home of Bilbo Baggins, Bag End, is the highlight of the tour. Bag End sits at the top of the hill looking over Hobbiton. Guests can get a picture of themselves inside this Hobbit hole, looking out. (All the interior scenes were filmed in Wellington). 

The Banquet Hall

Tours begin and end at the Banquet Hall. Visitors will also see costumes and props, then be able to purchase souvenirs. 

types of Hobbiton Tours

You’ll have several Hobbiton tour options to choose from.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 8 hours | 🤩 Book Now

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is the classic guided tour of Hobbiton. You’ll see all the sights listed above.

You’ll spend about two hours altogether on this tour, and you’ll get to see all the sites of Hobbiton!

You can take this tour if you have a car and will drive yourself to Shire’s Rest.

There are also Hobbiton Movie Set tours with roundtrip transportation from Auckland, with roundtrip transportation from Rotorua, and with roundtrip transportation from Tauranga.

Second Breakfast Tour

The Second Breakfast Tour includes the full guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, including a stop at the Green Dragon Inn. You’ll also have a “second breakfast” fit for a hungry Hobbit! Breakfast is served in the Millhouse.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Lunch in the Party Marquee

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 8 hours | 🤩 Book Now

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with Lunch in the Party Marquee includes the entire guided tour of Hobbiton and the drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Guests will also feast on a delicious buffet lunch served in the Party Marquee.

If you are a big fan of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books and movies, I strongly recommend the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour with lunch in the Party Marquee

When we went to Hobbiton, we had lunch at the Party Marquee, and it was well worth it! The food was plentiful, with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

This tour includes round-trip transportation from Auckland, as well as the tour of Hobbiton and lunch at the Party Marquee.

Book Now: Hobbiton Tour with Lunch at the Party Marquee

Evening Banquet Tour of Hobbiton

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 8 hours | 🤩 Book Now

The Evening Banquet Tour is really special because you’ll begin the tour with a beverage in the Green Dragon Inn, then a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set at dusk.

After your tour, you’ll enjoy a two-course banquet served inside the Green Dragon Inn (with additional drinks available for purchase).

Then–the best part–a lantern-lit walk through Hobbiton under the moonlight!

If this event is something you want to do, you should make reservations far in advance because it will sell out.

Currently, bookings are only being taken until November 30, 2023.

This tour includes roundtrip transportation from Auckland, in addition to the evening banquet feast and moonlit tour of Hobbiton!

Private Tour of Hobbiton

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 8 hours | 🤩 Book Now

Step away from the crowds at Hobbiton when you take a private tour. Your group will have their own tour guide, as well as roundtrip transportation from Auckland. You won’t have to worry about a thing, except enjoying your journey to Middle-Earth!

Can you take a tour of Hobbiton and somewhere else in the same day?

Yes! Hobbiton tours last about two hours. You’ll want to add extra time to shop and grab a bite to eat. So allow a half day for Hobbiton.

You’ll have plenty of time to see other things in the Matamata region on the same day!

Here are some of the best combination tours you can take:

Hobbiton and the Waitomo Glowworms

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 13 hours | 🤩 Book Now

Take a tour of Hobbiton and the Spellbound Glowworm Caves. This tour combines a trip to Hobbiton with another favorite local tourist attraction, the Waitomo glowworm caves.

It may sound like science fiction, but the Waitomo caves contain thousands of tiny worms that glow in the dark. The glowworms are really special and also worth a visit!

We have taken a tour with Spellbound and had a really great experience! Hobbiton and the Glowworm Caves were two of our favorite New Zealand experiences, so I highly recommend this tour.

Hobbiton and Te Puia

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 13 hours | 🤩 Book Now

Experience the best of New Zealand with this all day tour to Hobbiton and Te Puia in Rotorua, with roundtrip transportation from Auckland.

You’ll have a scenic drive thorough the Waikato Region before arriving at Hobbiton. You’ll have have the guided tour of Hobbiton, including a drink at the Green Dragon Inn.

Then you’ll head to Rotorua to visit the amazing Te Puia geothermal area and cultural center. You’ll see geysers and hot springs and learn about Maori Arts and culture.

Te Puia is amazing and another New Zealand must-see!

Hobbiton, Rotorua, and Waitomo Caves

⭐️ 4.5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 13 hours | 🤩 Book Now

Do it all! See Hobbiton, the Waitomo Caves, and Rotorua.

This tour is perfect for the New Zealand visitor who wants to see everything, but doesn’t have that much time!

You’ll see Hobbiton, taking the full 2-hour guided tour. Then you’ll go to Te Puia in Rotorua and view the geysers and thermal areas while having lunch. Finally, you’ll tour Waitomo Glowworm caves. This will be a day you’ll always remember!

This tour can be roundtrip or one-direction. The tour can start and finish in Auckland or Rotorua. So, it can be a roundtrip journey. Or, you can being in Auckland and end in Rotorua, or vice versa.

Create your own Itinerary

⭐️ 5 out of 5 | ⏱️ 1-21 days | 🤩 Book Now

Customize your own New Zealand tour. You can see Hobbiton and go anywhere else you’d like in New Zealand, all in the comfort of private transportation.

I’d recommend an itinerary that includes the Coromandel peninsula, the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and Taupo, as well as Hobbiton.

What Special Events happen at Hobbiton?

There are several seasonal tours at Hobbiton. 

Mid-Winter Feast

If you’re visiting New Zealand in the winter, you can plan to attend the mid-winter feast in July. The event includes a an evening tour of Hobbiton, mulled wine, and a buffet dinner with more than even a Hobbit could eat!

International Hobbit Day

Celebrate the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! You’ll take a guided tour of Hobbiton, the enjoy a marketplace full of treats, various beverages, games, and live music.

Hobbiton Beer Festival

You’ll be able to enjoy ales, cider, wine, or non-alcoholic drinks while you enjoy a buffet of delicious food at the Party Marquee. You’l be able to take your beer stein home with you!

A Hobbiton Christmas

Your guided tour of the Shire will begin at dusk. You’ll explore the new Hobbit Hole on Bagshot Row, enjoy a beverage from the Green Dragon Inn, and explore the marketplace, before feasting on a Christmas buffet dinner.

Middle-Earth Halfling Marathon

This is a marathon like no other. Halflings can pass through sites in the Shire not normally accessed by the public.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Review

What I liked about the Hobbiton Tour

I loved seeing the care that had gone into every little detail of the set. There is Hobbit laundry hanging on clotheslines behind homes. Every Hobbit hole is designed to reflect the personality and life of a certain Hobbit, so no two are the same. 

I also loved the setting of Hobbiton. The village is tucked in the middle of New Zealand pastures. There is nothing else around. It’s really a peaceful, serene, and lovely surrounding. 

Hobbiton itself is just so pretty, with vegetable and flower gardens, pretty paths, and charming vistas from pretty much every vantage point. The set is just adorable and charming. 

The tour was very efficient and well organized. As someone who previously worked as a tour guide, I appreciated how well organized the tour was and how much information the tour guide was able to share with our group. 

What I didn’t like about the Hobbiton Tour

I like to travel a bit off the beaten path whenever possible. Hobbiton is not that kind of experience. 

The tour is very much a guided group tour, and you’re moved along from place to place. It wasn’t that I felt rushed, but I definitely felt the approach of the group behind us. Honestly though, I don’t know how else they would keep people moving through such a large site without it being a guided tour. 

The best option to counter the crowds is to book a special tour, either at the beginning or end of the day. The only way to avoid all the tourists is to book a private tour of Hobbiton. 

The summary of my unbiased Hobbiton review? The Hobbiton tour is fantastic and I’m so glad we went!

Is Hobbiton Worth Visiting? 

For us, yes, Hobbiton was absolutely worth a visit!

My husband read The Hobbit and the LOTR books as a child. We watched each movie in the theater when it was released. This tour was probably the thing he most wanted to do in New Zealand, and it did not disappoint. 

My girls and I are fans, but not as much as my husband. We absolutely loved Hobbiton. It’s absolutely adorable, and we loved being on an actual movie set. It was so much fun to watch the movies after being on the set and be able to remember what it looked like when we were there. 

It takes a little extra effort to get to Hobbiton, but the upside of that is you get to see some absolutely gorgeous New Zealand scenery on your way there!

Is Hobbiton Worth the Price? 

I think it is. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you’re already aware that it’s going to cost a bit to get to New Zealand and travel through this beautiful country.

But, wow, those prices add up quickly (especially if you’re traveling with a family or on a backpacker’s budget).

Here are some reasons I think Hobbiton is worth the money: 

1. New Zealand is just expensive

Pretty much everything in New Zealand is more expensive than in many regions of the United States. So you can expect all admissions tickets to be a little pricey. 

Add to that the fact that this is a one-of-a-kind destination that requires constant maintenance and a large staff to maintain, and you can see why tickets are expensive. 

2. Hobbiton is a bucket-list destination

Chances are you’re not returning to New Zealand to vacation every year. So getting to visit Hobbiton might be a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-decade type of activity.

You really don’t want to get home and wish you’d gone to Hobbiton when you had the chance. 

Exploring the stunning movie set, taking in all the carefully designed details, and getting a glimpse of Middle Earth is really special.  

3. Where else can you see Middle Earth?

A lot of people who visit Hobbiton do so because they love the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Hobbit trilogy, or they love the books!

One of the main reasons Lord of the Rings fans travel to New Zealand is so they can explore Middle Earth.

Many wild places in New Zealand are recognizable from the films, but perhaps none capture the imagination as much as this little village does.

When else will you have a chance to visit Middle Earth? Don’t miss this opportunity!

4. Hobbiton is a great memory to make

I think it’s important to splurge a bit on things that really matter to you when you travel. So for us, these tickets were a priority. 

Touring Hobbiton was something everyone in our family enjoyed. Our children are now much more interested in JRR Tolkein’s books and all the movies now that they’ve see Hobbiton.

So our first trip to Hobbiton continues to be something we enjoy together, even though our visit there is long over. 

When we go back to New Zealand again, I hope to take another tour of Hobbiton! The first time we went so wonderful and we can’t wait for the next!

Should I go to Hobbiton? 

If you are a huge fan of JRR Tolkien’s writing or Peter Jackson’s movies, you really cannot miss the opportunity to visit Hobbiton. I would absolutely recommend that you go. 

If you like imaginary worlds and set design in general, you really should visit Hobbiton. There is an incredible level of detail behind each choice on the set–so much so, you feel like you’re entering a different world. 

If you just want to see more of New Zealand, Hobbiton is a wonderful place to visit. Taking a tour of Hobbiton allows you to see the bucolic New Zealand countryside and also learn about the impact Middle Earth has had on New Zealand. 

I would recommend a tour of Hobbiton to most people. It really is a cool experience. 

Is the Tour of Hobbiton good for families? 

Hobbiton is great for families! The tour is family friendly and suitable for visitors of all ages. Children are fascinated by the hobbit holes and the colorful, whimsical movie set.

Any adults with the group will appreciate the behind-the-scenes stories and details about the making of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. 

The walking tour is easy, so it’s a great way for families to get outside and enjoy New Zealand’s fresh air and scenic views of the countryside.

The tour does cover some uneven terrain, so it might require you to carry very small children. You can take a stroller, as long as it will fold to fit in the luggage compartment of the bus. However, you may have to lift a stroller up the steps or over rough terrain. 

Also, the tour might not be suitable for visitors with mobility issues.

Hobbiton is a feast for the senses, so kids will enjoy exploring the village.  Whether you’re there as a stop on a family gap year or a family vacation, the tour of Hobbiton is a fun, unique experience families will remember.

Are there ways to save money on Hobbiton Tickets?

There aren’t usually discount codes for Hobbiton tickets. 

There are family tickets, which offers a bit of savings for two adults + two children. Additional children are extra. Children under age 8 are free, but do require a ticket. 

Where is Hobbiton? 

It’s just outside of Matamata in the Waikato region in the North Island of New Zealand 

The location feels pretty rural. So much so that for the last twenty minutes, you’ll be driving on narrow, windy roads, wondering if you missed a turn. 

How long does it take to get to Hobbiton?

​It’s an easy day trip to Hobbiton from Auckland and other nearby cities. 

  • Auckland to Hobbiton is about a two-hour drive. 
  • Rotorua to Hobbiton is an hour drive.
  • Tauranga to Hobbiton is an hour drive.
  • Hamilton to Hobbiton is a 45 minute drive.
  • Matamata to Hobbiton is a 15 minute drive. 

You can take a guided tour from Auckland, so you don’t have to worry about getting yourself to Hobbiton!

If you’re taking a road trip through New Zealand, you can add Hobbiton to your list of New Zealand stops. It’s a great stopping point. It’s convenient to many amazing North Island destinations, including Taupo, Rotorua, Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, the beautiful beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland, and Hamilton.

When is the best time to visit Hobbiton?

Hobbiton is open year-round, in any weather. Visiting in the winter (June to August in New Zealand) will allow you to escape some of the crowds. The weather in Waikato in the winter is mild, so you’ll probably be fine with just a light coat, but check the forecast!

As for the time of day, the early morning tour is the best. There are no other visitors there before you, so you’ll have fewer people in your photos! And the light on the Hobbit holes is perfect in the morning. 

The late afternoon tour is also a great choice. You’ll get the golden afternoon light and avoid some of the crowds. 

If you want to explore Hobbiton when no one else is around, you need to take the Second Breakfast tour or the Evening Banquet tour. These include a meal and earlier/later admission to Hobbiton. 

Hobbiton is a beautiful place, and there’s really no bad time to visit. 

Where can you eat at Hobbiton?

Hobbits are always hungry, so it makes sense that there are lots of ways to grab a bite to eat at Hobbiton. 

On Tour

There are several Hobbiton tours that feature meals. These Hobbit-inspired feasts include Second Breakfast, Lunch at the Party Marquee, and the Evening Banquet.

I really, really recommend one of the special tours that include a meal because you’ll have extra time at Hobbiton. Plus, the food is plentiful and delicious. 

Shire’s Rest Cafe

At Shire’s Rest, where tours end and begin, there’s a cafe with sandwiches, salads, daily specials, and baked goods, plus coffee, tea, and other drinks. 

The Green Dragon Inn

At the Green Dragon, guests can get a complimentary drink. You can also order beef or vegetable pies, sandwiches, or sausages. 

I can’t guarantee what the menus will include when you dine at Hobbiton, but we found plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options when we were there. If you have dietary restrictions, I recommend contacting Hobbiton in advance about any allergies or intolerances. 

What should I bring to Hobbiton?

Most importantly, bring your camera, along with extra SD cards and batteries. You will not want to miss all the photo ops at Hobbiton. 

Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and good walking shoes. The tour covers uneven terrain, so closed-toe shoes are recommended. 

(Note that visitors may not wear anything with offensive images or writing. Visitors may not bring any weapons or dangerous props.) 

Wondering what to bring to New Zealand? Here’s your complete packing list!

It’s a good idea to check the weather before your tour. You’ll want to bring sunscreen and a hat or rain gear, depending on the weather forecast. Remember that weather can change quickly in New Zealand. Tours of Hobbiton proceed no matter the weather!

If you’re taking the Second Breakfast tour or the Evening Banquet Tour, you’ll want to bring an extra layer to wear against the morning or evening chill, even if it’s warm during the day. 

FAQs about Hobbiton tours

Do I need reservations for a tour of Hobbiton?

Yes, reservations are very highly recommended. Tours often sell out far in advance. I recommend booking your tour as soon as possible after deciding on your New Zealand itinerary. 

Can I see Hobbiton without taking a tour?

No, all guests who wish to visit Hobbiton must do so on a fully guided tour. 

How much does it cost to visit Hobbiton? 

Ticket price depends on the type of ticket and experience you choose. Check ticket prices here. 

Is there any way to see Hobbiton for free?

No, you have to buy a ticket to visit Hobbiton. You can go to the Shire’s Rest for free, to visit the gift shop or cafe. 

What can I buy at the Hobbiton gift shop? 

You can find a variety of LOTR souvenirs at the gift shop at The Shire’s Rest. You’ll find books, clothing, maps, toys, collectibles, models, and more. 

Is Hobbiton accessible to everyone?

Some parts of the terrain are uneven and have steps. Check out the Hobbiton accessibility page for more info.

How long is the tour of Hobbiton?

The tour is about two hours. Allow extra time to visit the gift shop, cafe, and restrooms, plus take photos! 

Is Hobbiton worth it if you haven’t seen the movies?

I think so! And you can always watch the movies (or read the books) after your visit! Hobbiton is beautiful and fun, even if you haven’t seen the films. 

Is it easy to park at Hobbiton?

Yes, there’s a large car park with lots of free parking at Hobbiton.

Can I stay overnight at Hobbiton?

No, there are no overnight accommodations at Hobbiton. The nearest accommodations are in Matamata. 

Is Hobbiton open every day?

Every day except Christmas Day!

Final Thoughts on Whether Hobbiton is Worth Visiting

So what’s the final verdict? Is a tour of Hobbiton worth the price and effort? I say yes!

No doubt, the many thousands of tourists who flock to Hobbiton think it’s worth a stop on their New Zealand itinerary.  

Like Cathedral Cove or Hot Water Beach, Hobbiton is an iconic New Zealand destination.

Hobbiton is a truly special place, especially for fans of the The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings movies or anyone with an interest in Middle Earth. 

Whether a tour of Hobbiton is worth it depends on your budget and interests. For our family, Hobbiton was definitely worth the expense and time. We all loved it so much, we can’t wait to return!

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