New Zealand is full of absolutely fabulous places and benefits from a nature that is still very well preserved despite significant tourist activity. But it is also a country known and recognized for having the most mythical landscapes of the famous Lord of the Rings saga. Peter Jackson, the director himself from New Zealand, has indeed chosen to stage the incredible and very varied landscapes of his beautiful country, but also to create certain sets from scratch. This is particularly the case of Hobbiton, an absolutely timeless spot open to the public. Whether you are a fan of the saga or not, this place is worth the detour!
A little history
In 2001, the general public discovered on all cinema screens the first part of the Lord of the Rings saga, taken from the three-volume novel by JRR Tolkien. It was a risky bet for Peter Jackson, but certainly the most successful of his career since it is a worldwide success. The fantastic universe as well as the mythical characters will have no difficulty in convincing the biggest fans since all the films of the saga are essential today.
And to make the film even more real, the teams have chosen to build The Shire from scratch, the famous Hobbit village in which Frodo and Bilbo Saquet live. Thus, in 1998, Peter Jackson decided to fly over the North Island of New Zealand in a helicopter to find the ideal place that could accommodate the small houses so typical of the Hobbits. He thus sees a large farm which has absolutely no modern infrastructure around it. It belongs to the Alexander brothers, then sheep breeders, who agreed to lend part of the gigantic site to build the famous village.
The works can therefore begin, however substantial they may be. More than 5000 m3 of earth are therefore moved to allow the digging of the holes which will serve as houses for the Hobbits. A giant oak tree is even uprooted a few kilometers away to be replanted on the filming location, above Cul-De-Sac, Bilbo’s house. As soon as the filming of the first trilogy is over, the set is completely destroyed, in accordance with the terms of the contract established with the brothers of the Alexander farm.
Only, Peter Jackson decides a few years later to adapt to the cinema the first work of Tolkien, the Hobbit, which is none other than the first part of the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings. For this, it is therefore necessary to rebuild La Comté in order to resume filming in 2011.
As soon as the filming was over, and rather than destroying this absolutely timeless place again, it was decided to leave these sets unchanged in order to allow visitors to discover Tolkien’s universe in real life.
In the skin of a Hobbit
Hobbiton is located in Matamata, on the North Island of New Zealand. The filming location is both accessible by car and by shuttle from the city of Matamata.
Il est possible de réserver en amont les billets pour la visite d’Hobbiton, mais aussi de les prendre sur place. Cependant, il est vivement conseillé de s’y prendre en avance afin de réserver l’horaire que vous souhaitez et pour éviter d’attendre des heures votre tour. Comptez 75 $ NZ pour la visite classique qui dure environ 2 heures (39,50 $ NZ entre 9 et 16 ans et gratuit pour les enfants de moins de 9 ans). Il s’agit donc d’un petit budget à consacrer à cette visite qui vaut pourtant le détour !
The site is only accessible by bus, which goes back and forth over the visits. Once there, a guide takes charge of the group to tour the place with explanations and anecdotes about the different places in the Shire. Be careful though, the visits are only in English, so it is better to be attentive to understand as much information as possible.
The sets have obviously not changed in Hobbiton since one can have the impression that Hobbits still live there. You will indeed find extended laundry or fruits and vegetables ready to be picked. However, one detail reminds visitors that this is indeed a film location: the houses are completely empty. Indeed, all the sequences shot in the famous house of Bilbo Baggins were actually made in the Wellington studios. Thus, behind the door of the Cul-De-Sac house, you will be able to see two meters of the interior, but no more since there is nothing else.
The visit ends with a detour to the Dragon Vert inn where you can enjoy a good beer brewed on site (soft drinks are also served). After this short break of about twenty minutes in the favorite pub of Frodo and his friends, it’s time to take the shuttle back to leave this unique place.