My first memory of Lord of the Rings was being dragged to the movies with my parents and falling asleep in the theater…sorry. Hey I was really young and I think LOTR was a bit out my depth especially when I was in the princess stage of my life (wait have I left that stage yet?…hmmm).
Anyway, I have seen the movies as an adult and have a greater appreciation for the franchise than I did when I was 8. One of the really cool things about New Zealand is that filming for the movies took place all around the country and locals are very proud of it. That being said while in the North Island I obviously had to stop by Hobbiton.
Ticket prices were a bit hefty, but they included roundtrip transportation from Rotoura, a guide tour, a drink at the end of the tour, and in general I think the upkeep of the property is extensive/expensive.
When the Rings trilogy was first filmed Middle-Earth was constructed very movie like, which meant it was all facades and deconsecrated once filming was complete. I won’t go into the full history, but an abbreviated version follows. When originally scouting locations Peter Jackson was looking for a big tree and a lake in the middle of lush hills. I guess this wasn’t as easily found as originally expected, but they finally stumbled upon Alexander Family Farms in Matamata.
Once the movies were released fans started visiting the farm regardless of the fact that the hobbit holes were gone so when the Hobbit movies were being contracted the farm’s owner wanted the set to be built correctly and be kept there indefinitely after filming. Smart businessman and now Hobbiton stands on a working farm bringing tourism into the area too.
Even if you’re not a mega-fan (around 40% of visitors haven’t even seen the movies) it’s still really cool to see. Yes, it was once a movie set, but the detail, care, and continuous attention to the property make you feel like you are in a real village and that you may stumble upon a real hobbit. And if you are a LOTR fan this is obviously a must do for you.