Published November 2019
Hobbiton is the name of the movie set where parts of the trilogies “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” were filmed. Hobbiton is located on the beautiful North Island of New Zealand. Fortunately, even now that the films have been completed, the movie set lives on. Today, Hobbiton is one of New Zealand’s most well-known and frequently visited tourist attractions.
We had purchased Hobbiton tickets months in advance. As the big day finally approached, we checked the weather forecast again and again. We crossed all our fingers and toes—there just had to be nice and sunny weather!
Our visit started at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. We had signed up for what was to be a real Hobbit feast—officially called the Evening Banquet Tour. Throughout the afternoon and evening, we were to party like Hobbits and see the movie set both in daylight and darkness.
A bus took us from the ticket office over to the actual movie set. When we got off the bus, the clouds were dark gray, and the raindrops were numerous and heavy. A bit down due to the weather, we somewhat reluctantly borrowed umbrellas.
However, we had not taken many steps before our mood lightened significantly. Seeing Hobbiton with our own eyes could not compare with the pictures we had seen online. The colors, shapes, and not least, the incredible detail of the movie set was just jaw-dropping.
During the tour, we snapped pictures constantly. We took so many that our dear camera shut itself down for a moment. When it recovered after a quick breather, we sighed in relief.
Fortunately, our camera was not the only thing that took a break. The rain started and stopped from one moment to the next. Between light drizzles and heavy downpours, we saw teasing glimpses of blue sky before the clouds closed again.
When dusk approached, we almost started to appreciate the gray weather. Since we were the last tour group of the day, we now had the whole movie set for ourselves, not counting the chickens, ducks, and frogs that seemed to be thriving in the green pastures of The Shire. As darkness fell, the ambience became more and more magical and we listened to the guide’s vivid storytelling accompanied by clucking, croaking, and the occasional bleating sheep in the distance.
All our negative thoughts about the bad weather were totally gone by the time we headed for The Green Dragon pub. The wonderful atmosphere and our eager anticipation of the Hobbit feast ahead made us break out in joyful song as we approached the party venue.
Inside the pub, a crackling bonfire awaited in the fireplace and we were promptly served drinks. We were then let into the dining hall where tables were lavishly filled with goodies. We found seats and soon afterwards the feast began. In true Hobbit spirit, second helpings were strongly encouraged!
Time passed quickly as we ate, drank, and played with Hobbit costumes in the wonderful surroundings. The costumes were laid out for anyone who wanted to dress up. All that was left to do was let go and step into the Hobbit world. As the evening progressed, more and more guests chose to put on the Hobbit costumes.
With full stomachs, we were summoned for the final activity on the program—a night walk through Hobbiton. This time, lanterns replaced the umbrellas as the rain had finally stopped. With lights swinging in our hands, we strolled down new paths between the Hobbit holes that were now beautifully lit. Just like earlier in the evening, those who wanted to could take pictures in front of the holes, and the poses became increasingly creative.
As we climbed aboard the bus at the end of the evening, all the faces around us shone with excitement. It felt as if everyone had been sprinkled with a magical dust creating non-stop smiles and giggles.
Practical information and tips for visiting Hobbiton:
- Book tickets in advance! The Evening Banquet Tour is very popular and since it is not held every day, it can be sold out long in advance.
- The Evening Banquet Tour costs 195 NZD for adults, 152 NZD for youth and 100 NZD for children, and lasts approximately 4 hours. A dinner buffet and dessert, plus a drink (with or without alcohol) are included in the price.
- It is also possible to participate in other tours of the movie set, both with and without meals.
- It is wise to dress warmly, preferably in layers. Even with just the slightest possibility of rain, it is a good idea to wear a rain jacket or poncho. If you have a rucksack, bring a rain cover for it.
- Don’t wear your best shoes. Our shoes got muddy and dirty due to the rain.
- Those who want to are more than welcome to dress up in Hobbit or Lord of the Rings costumes. At the beginning of the tour, our guide encouraged anyone who might have brought their own costumes to put them on, but unfortunately no one in our group did this. However, we are sure that if someone had done it, they would have received a lot of positive attention!
- The weather is extremely unpredictable in the area around Hobbiton. Therefore, do not feel too down if the weather forecast is not the best. The day we visited Hobbiton, it was raining on and off all evening, but as mentioned earlier the weather changed all the time and we did have periods of sunshine.
- During the Evening Banquet Tour, we had plenty of time to take pictures, and both the guides and the other participants were very helpful in taking pictures of others.
- Remember to charge the battery on your phone or camera before arriving in Hobbiton. It is also a good idea to check in advance if your camera has a feature for taking good pictures in the dark. Some participants brought tripods, but we thought this seemed a bit cumbersome to carry around.
- There are limited accommodation options near Hobbiton. We booked a room in Buckland Bed & Breakfast located just a couple of kilometers away, and we were very happy that we didn’t have to drive far on the dark roads after the tour.