The rural Waikato town of Matamata, a centre of horse racing and breeding, is better known these days for tours of the former Lord of the Rings movie set. About half an hour’s drive from Tauranga across the Kaimai Ranges, this is rolling green farmland, is one of the prettiest parts of this region.
Although the LOTR movie set has been returned to its natural state, Hobbit holes and some structures from the film set remain. Tour guides escort visitors through the 10-acre site, explaining how Hobbiton, the place in the Shire where the little people lived, was created. Hobbiton dates back to 1998, when Peter Jackson saw the farm’s potential from the air.
The property was perfect, untouched by all the modern clutter of buildings, roads, and power lines. Construction of the set began the next year and took 9 months to complete. Five tours daily begin from 9.30am, the last at 3.45pm (more in summer) .
Tours are at the higher end but this is a one of a kind place, so that's expected. Tours range from a cheaper look around, to a full Hobbit/LOTR fan tour. Hobbiton is still a working sheep farm and also features a farm experience. Matamata Information Centre, 45 Broadway, Matamata. Rings Scenic Tours. Ph: (07) 888 6838, www.hobbitontours.com