Day 1,833 of Traveling the World | Hobbiton, New Zealand | February 8, 2023

Utterly, utterly charming, unique, beautiful, and interesting. To be on a famous movie set, but not on a sound stage with everything artificial and painted “only to where the camera pans,” was absolutely terrific in the natural outdoor environment. Sure, it is a created “shire,” or village, for the Lord of the Ring movies, but in deciding not to tear it down after filming, New Zealand has preserved all the greenery and foliage, the Hobbit’s houses, and all the tiny details that are so delightful because they depict life in an earlier, simpler (though fictional) time. All the structures are made of rocks, wood, etc. – no plastics. There are many clotheslines (with clothes drying on them!), activities, tools and implements, picnic tables, swings, food, and of course, pathways to get around the shire. In the main feasting area is a maypole and see-saws, and low wooden fences bound together with ropes. Very medieval.

If you have seen the news recently about cruise ships being barred from entering NZ waters due to “biohazards” ( barnacles and crustaceans attached to the ships’ hulls that would be introduced into NZ), then you know that the country is very strict about the introduction of any nonnative plants. Wellll….Tolkien only really knew the plants around his area in England when he wrote about Hobbits. To stay authentic, the producers asked permission to bring in thousands of plants so they could “match” the narrative in the book. Eventually, NZ agreed, and these outrageously beautiful photos of plants and flowers are thanks to their importation! The government was so invested in the success of the movie that they even created a government post called the Minister of Lord of the Rings to oversee the economic advantages to the country. The filming alone brought in $200 million. But Hobbiton is the gift that keeps on giving! Tours are $89 NZ ($60 US) per adult. You need to book in advance during the summer high season, and they have buses running continuously, taking 240 people per hour out to the set. They are only closed on Christmas Day. Do the math! They also, of course of course, have a souvenir shop and a cafe. And, for about double the price, they have an evening banquet and you get to walk the set with night lighting. Hobbiton employs quite a number of people and is still bringing in substantial income.

We heard lots of inside information about Hobbiton, and will explain more under the photos. Overall, even if you are not really into Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies (we have seen them but not obsessed over them), it is a WOW kind of place to visit. Hobbiton is extremely well done, well created, and just cute and charming. Our tour was 2 hours of walking and talking and taking photos with a guide, Merlin (real name!), who had all the answers. It even included a free beer (or coffee or tea) inside Hobbiton’s local watering hole, the Green Dragon. We felt that the fee was well worth it.

The first Hobbit house we came upon. Notice the crude wooden cart filled with gourds and the picnic table set with cheese and fruit, along with the picket fence and bench for sitting with the neighbors.
A view of the hillside neighborhood! In addition to the glorious wildflowers everywhere, there are more gourds and lovely green grass (kept short by the grazing sheep!).
…and a view down the hill. You can see more houses and chimneys arising from the hillside. The large tree on the left comes with a story! Years before the area was scouted as a filming location, the owners hired a man to chop down that lovely tree, as it was interfering with sheep-raising. The area was a swamp. The man took their down payment and ran, never cutting down the tree! It turns out that the tree, with the lake, was the primary reason for choosing this property! After the movie was released, the thief contacted the family and said, “Good thing I never cut down the tree! It looks great in the movie!”
This pretty house has a woven-branch gate and a child’s wooden horse in the front yard. Notice the laundry drying up on the left and in the center, as well as the chimney rising up.
Along one of the walkways, just a tool shed. It took the set designers two years to contour the hills, plant the vegetation, and build the Hobbit homes and all the accompanying buildings and details.
A very sweet home rising out of the earth, with a chair and pottery outside, some herbs drying on the right, and a chimney just to the left of center.
Don’t you just want to live here? In the forefront is a vegetable garden with a birdhouse, and houses popping out all over. There are some people at the top, but they are tourists, not Hobbits.
They did a lot of filming here in the area they call the Dell, but only 15 seconds got into the film. Sounds here echo, as it is a natural echo chamber. The frogs croaking in the pond were so noisy, they had to wade in, capture them, and move them to another pond. But how to stop the loud birds? Bring in a trained American eagle to fly around, of course! They became very quiet when they thought they were being hunted!
For some reason, this is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz set.
This house has logs out front for the fireplace, along with a game of chess set up and a swing for two!
The designers left clues to some Hobbit professions – as you can see, a fisherman (or fisherwoman) lives here!
They are ready to have lunch! Notice the cute mailbox to the right of the gate.
The set designers placed a table filled with jars of honey outside this house to hint at this homeowner’s profession.
There were lots of butterflies, since there were lots of flowers!
More laundry blowing in the wind.
The local bakery – you can see loaves of bread and sacks of flour. We couldn’t touch or examine anything, of course; we were told to treat the entire set as a museum (don’t touch anything, and don’t wander off the walkways) rather than a movie set.
The houses only “go in” about 3-4 feet. Believe it or not, if they went any deeper, they would have had to comply with Building Codes! The interior scenes were shot on a sound stage in Wellington. For this one, though, filled with umbrellas (for some reason), every couple or group had their photo taken by our tour guide.
We just liked this view of the rolling green hills, as it is so typical of the area surrounding Hobbiton.
Every group of visitors is a different tour group, which is why we had to keep moving and not lag behind! They did give us enough time to lollygag and take photos, but our goal was not to have the next group catch up with us!
Bilbo Baggins’ home. In the Fellowship of the Rings, Bilbo and Gandalf sat on this bench, smoking, talking, and watching the sunset. The problem was, this doesn’t face west! So they had to insert a fake sunset scene (but it doesn’t last very long).
A path lantern – a walkway – a house – a chimney.
From the sign, we know this home belongs to a beekeeper.
The ugliest pears we have ever seen! The landscapers planted fruit trees so that there is something blooming year-round.
This Hobbit home has two attic windows!
Ahhh, so pretty. If you have seen the trilogy, this is Samwise’s house.
The cheesemaker’s house.
We liked this house’s accent pieces, as well as the two triangular mailboxes up on the hill behind.
This house looks so warm and cozy!
THE tree. The movies’ director, Peter Jackson, wanted a glorious tree on top of the hill that overlooked a row of houses. Since it wasn’t there, he built this magnificent tree out of plaster and one quarter of a million fake green leaves stapled to the plaster branches. But when shooting began, he felt the leaves “weren’t the right color of green,” as they had faded somewhat. So the set designers had to put up ladders and spray paint the 250,000 artificial leaves!
The home of the shire’s weaver.
Check out those raspberries on the fence! Real or artificial? You decide!
The farm out of which they parceled Hobbiton raises 13,000 sheep. Here are just a few, with a Hobbit-looking scarecrow.
We really enjoyed little details like this table of implements all around the shire, as they add to the authenticity and feel of Middle Earth.
A stone-arch bridge and water mill.
The Green Dragon, pub.
A weeping willow accents the side garden eating area of the Green Dragon.
The Green Dragon himself/herself, lurking outside the pub.
The front of the Green Dragon.
An outdoor oven on the side of the pub. Since it is Middle Earth, it likely isn’t a pizza oven, but certainly could be a bread oven.
Inside the Green Dragon, everyone was enjoying a beer or cup of coffee in front of roaring fires. It wasn’t cold, though, but it was a mostly cloudy day.
Check out those cakes! They were also selling scones and muffins here.
Each room had a fireplace.
As you drive up, the sign tells you – You Are Here.
Funny. They also call this place a Tourist Farm!
The shop sells Elf Ears for just under $8 US. The elves in the next two photos brought their own.
Many people were dressed as elves, dwarves, and wizards! This is Ashley from Florida, ready for her tour, looking radiant and lovely.
..and this is Anna from San Francisco, looking ravishing.

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