Any even vaguely appreciative fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Hobbit films, should definitely swing by the amazing Hobbiton film set in the unassuming town of Matamata. Guy and I being big fans of the franchise had been lining up a visit for a while and finally found a lovely sunny day to make the most of our time in The Shire.
Arriving at the visitor centre the excitement begins with your tickets and a map of the site in the style of J.R.R Tolkien’s originals from the book. The film set is in picturesque rolling hills and farmland, and a short bus ride takes you through the countryside while commentary is given by a hilarious driver and the short video clips of how Peter Jackson chose the location. The tour of Hobbiton is a guided one, but really there is no other way to do it as the inside information and anecdotes you get as you go around are fantastic!
Setting off through Gandalf’s Cutting we emerged into Hobbiton and the lush greenery and colourful hobbit holes. Immediately transported into Middle Earth it is a beautiful little place. First stop was the garden, which actually does grow their own vegetables year round, complete with hobbit sized wheelbarrows and surrounded by the beguiling hobbit holes.
The details are incredible, even down to fake lichen on the fences and gateposts to match that on the trees! Up the hill a little we visited the frog pond, where during filming they had to remove all the frogs as the mics kept picking them up, and onto Sackville.
The pretty little hobbit holes are set into the undulating hill sides, and vary in size as this allowed the film makers to create a forced perspective making the actors look bigger or smaller depending on if they were playing a hobbit, wizard or dwarf. Hobbiton being a self-sufficient little community, also has a number of themed hobbit holes including the painter, fisherman, baker, florist and of course the local drunk!
Each of which is adorned with fitting objects to portray its inhabitant. In the orchard the set design went as far as removing all the leaves and fruit from trees and wiring on fakes to make sure they were to scale, whoever had this job must have been thrilled that the orchard made only two seconds of the extended cut film!
Weaving our way around the set we headed up to Bagend, and Bilbo and Frodo’s hobbit hole, complete with the oak tree on top. This is obviously the most famous and is sat at the top of the hill with views out over the rest of the picturesque and undulating set all the way down to the lake and the Green Dragon Inn.
You couldn’t actually go into the hobbit hole but the Baggins door was ajar just enough to see the interior. From Bagend it was back down through Bagshot Row and to the Party Field including the party tree which was a key part of why the location was chosen to be here. The final part of the tour took us down the Merry Meander, past the Watermill, and to the Green Dragon Inn. The pub is very much styled on an English country pub with wooden beams, pictures and an umbrella stand full of wizards’ staffs!
They even brew their own beer and cider, I enjoyed a Sackville Cider while Guy tested out the Oakbarton Traditional Ale, both went down a treat sat out in the beer garden sun next to the lake.
Sadly, that was the end of our tour and we made our way back to the bus… and reality, passing the hobbit holes as we went. On the bus back through the farm they played a bunch of clips from the films with Hobbiton in, which is very cool to see once you have been there. Fans of the film or not this was an awesome day, and a really interesting insight into film making and the details that went into just minutes of screen time.
We would highly recommend going on an adventure to The Shire!