Peter Jackson looked no further than Matamata in the Hamilton & Waikato when seeking out a setting for one of the first scenes of his epic adaptation of the JRR Tolkien classic, The Lord of the Rings. Walk in Peter Jackson Jackson’s footsteps and hear how movie magic was made on your guided tour through the Hobbiton Movie Set.
If the Shire is at the heart of Lord of the Rings, then the Hamilton & Waikato region is at the heart of the Shire. When scouting around for settings for his epic three movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Kiwi director Peter Jackson found just what he was looking for in the green paddocks of the Waikato just outside Matamata. The bucolic setting for the Shire, home of the hobbits, including Bag End, was right there, and just waiting for his magical director’s touch.
Visitor today can imagine hobbits going about their business, as the set was rebuilt in 2011 for the filming of the story that started it all, The Hobbit.
Take a Tour
Gain a first-hand insight into filming and the way things looked when shooting was in full swing and get up close with over 17 hobbit holes from the filming including Bag End. Another feature that has remained throughout is the long-established pine tree by the lake that helped convince Peter Jackson to choose the location in his initial location scouting, and which became the party tree in the Middle-earth trilogy. It goes to show that Jackson’s vision was not only realised by way of special effects.
Tour groups can now experience the permanent set recreated for filming of The Hobbit, directed by Sir Peter Jackson and get a sneak peek into the extraordinary detail required to create the magic of Middle-earth. For Lord of the Rings, that included buying and shifting an oak tree to overlook Bag End. The tree was cut into pieces, then bolted together again and covered with thousands of artificial leaves; a meticulous approach that still applied for filming of the Hobbit.
The farm, which is owned by the Alexander family and has views of the Kaimai Ranges, is still a working sheep and beef farm. There is also a café and function centre on site called, naturally enough, The Shire’s Rest. Visitors can enjoy the hobbit-like Kaimai Room or take in the views from the balcony. It’s all just a hobbit’s hop, skip and jump – well, a short drive – from the town of Matamata.
Authentic farm stays can also be organised by the team at Hobbiton Movie Set Tours if visitors are keen to observe or participate in daily farm life experiences.