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What To Know Before Visiting Hobbiton with Kids

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Last Updated on August 11, 2023 by Leslie Stroud

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Can you remember the magic you experienced when watching Lord of the Rings for the first time? Peter Jackson is a true genius!

Furthermore, transporting yourself into one of the best movie series ever made is sure to be a highlight when visiting New Zealand.  This stunning scene offers a taste of magic and fantasy into real life!

We visited the Hobbiton movie set, located on the North Island of New Zealand. We shared the experience with our five kids, ages 2-11, in tow. There are a few things you should know before visiting Hobbiton, that will help make your visit more enjoyable and I am here to share them all.

Note: always check what is available with Covid.  According to the website, it looks like Hobbiton is open with some fun events coming this year!

We experienced Hobbiton just days before Covid descended upon New Zealand and changed the world and our plans. You can read more on how Covid changed our full-time travel plans here.

While tourists are not currently allowed In New Zealand, I want to share these tips for when it is more readily available!

Booking A Family Tour To Hobbiton

When planning your visit to Hobbiton with kids, consider which of the many tours and activities you want to do while there.  You should plan an entire day for your Hobbiton visit and don’t disregard the travel time to get there.

Some tour options include drinks at the Green Dragon, evening banquet dinner, and even a private movie set tour.  

Important Things to Know Before You Book A Visit to Hobbiton With Kids

There are a few key points you should know when considering a trip to Hobbiton with kids:

  • This is a restored movie set.  Originally, the set was mainly built with styrofoam and plywood, but it has since been rebuilt with solid materials and turned into a little “town”.
  • You CANNOT go into any of the Hobbit holes.  This can be really surprising and disappointing for LOTR fans if you are not aware ahead of time. Truth is, most of the holes do not even have an “inside.” There is one life-sized door near the end of the tour where you can take pictures, but you only get to stand in the doorway.
  • You will mostly view the hobbit holes from the fence in front of the “yards”.  There is an amazing, living garden in Hobbiton that would impress any expert gardener.  There are also little props that kids can touch and play with.
  • The movie set tour is a walking tour and is quite long for littles.  I ended up wearing our youngest in a baby carrier for a lot of the tour.  There is also some up and down on small hills, so be prepared for this.  Strollers are not an option on this tour, so be prepared to carry your younger children!
  • Wear good walking shoes and bring layers.  These tours take place in all weather conditions.  If rain is coming, bring an umbrella (or I believe you can use one of theirs as well). Layers are always a good idea to bring along with you anywhere in New Zealand.
  • Tour guides offer tons and tons of background information about the movie, the filming, the set, and more.  It is great to stay near the guide so you can hear all of the information. However, we ended up in the back with all the kids. If you want to hear well and get the most bang for your buck, try to stay near the front!  
  • At the end of the tour, kids are free to run around and play in the same field where the party is held in the movie.  Like all of New Zealand, it is very family-friendly and kids are totally welcome.
  • Pictures and video are totally allowed.  You’ll surely want to capture memories and photos of the incredible set. However, the tour moves at a good quip and we were constantly falling behind when we stopped for photos! If you choose to stop, be aware there will be some catching up to do.
  • If you are running late, just call.  We ended up on a tour 30 minutes after our original booking due to running a bit late, but they were very flexible and understanding.

The Cost of Visiting Hobbiton with Kids

Always check the website for current Hobbiton rates and information, but do understand that this is not a cheap activity.  Depending on the size of your family, it will cost several hundred dollars for a family visit.  

Currently, adult tours run about $89, and children over 8 years old cost $44 each. They do offer a family plan which gives admission to 2 adults and 2 children for $225. If you want to have a meal or experience one of the specialty tours, prices will go up from there.

We opted for a tour that included a buffet lunch.  While it did cost more, it was quite magical to eat “where Fodo and Sam” ate, in a sense.  The food was very good and I loved the experience.  If you have it in the budget, I would highly recommend it.

Getting to Hobbiton

We drove ourselves to Hobbiton from our Airbnb in Turangi; a slick two-hour drive through gorgeous farmland.  Driving in New Zealand often involves windy and narrow two-lane highways, so be sure to leave in enough time to arrive safely and reduce extra stress.

The town near Hobbiton, called Matamata, is small but quaint.  You can stop here for Subway or enjoy the other lunch options at fun cafes.  

If you prefer not to drive yourself, there are many tour options which include transport to Hobbiton from nearby cities such as Rotorua, Auckland, and more.  (Plan on two-plus hours of travel if coming from Auckland.)

iSites are located in every city throughout New Zealand and can help arrange a number of activities for you. The iSites in Matamata or Rotorua will help arrange your Hobbiton tickets and can also assist with transportation to Hobbiton as well.

In any case, upon arriving at Hobbiton, you will park at the Hobbiton Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop, aka The Shire’s Rest.  Immediately upon arrival, the theme begins, which only builds your excitement!  From there, you’ll get a time for a bus that takes you to the actual movie set.

On the bus, a movie will play giving background information on the set itself and what to expect as you tour the set.  You’ll wonder where the set is as you drive through rolling farm hills and Hobbiton will suddenly appear.

Touring Hobbiton with Kids

After getting off the bus, you’ll get a few directions from your tour guide and begin walking around the set.  When we were there, multiple groups were touring at the same time.  

Your tour guide will share fun facts and insider info about the movie and filming.  For example, when Gandolf and Frodo are sitting and talking during the sunset, we found out this was actually filmed during a sunrise!  The sun sets in the opposite direction, so to get the shot they wanted, they filmed a sunrise and played it backwards.  Incredible! These facts make rewatching the movie so interesting.

This is your time to totally geek out on the movie!  Take your pictures (we took hundreds), enjoy the stunning views, and marvel at the feeling of being transported into the movie.  The tours do move at a good pace, so take those pictures quickly and try to keep up.

The set tour took around 1.5 hours for us.  However, with our meal included it was nearly three hours.

Returning to The Shire’s Rest

After your tour, you’ll catch the bus back to The Shire’s Rest.  This is a great time to visit the gift shop and collect some fun souvenirs.  Tip: set a budget before you go, especially with the kids!  You can drop some serious money here if there are no limits, especially when you are emotionally fired up after your visit.

You don’t need tickets to visit The Shire’s Rest and there is no rush to leave. Enjoy your time and make the most of your visit to this iconic landmark.  There are great bathrooms at the Shire’s Rest, so use them before you leave.

Want More Lord of the Rings Magic? Visit Weta Studios in Wellington! We loved that too!

Enjoy your time in Hobbiton!  While you can’t do much on the set, we found it to be intensely magical to visit.  If you are a fan of the movie, you’ll love it too!



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