The filming location of Hobbiton, home of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo from Lord of the Rings, is one of the "must sees" in New Zealand. Probably even for people that aren't fans of the book or movies. For us, it was an absolute must - Sonja is a huge fan of everything J.R.R.Tolkien. And the Lord of the Rings was one of the reasons why New Zealand was so high on our bucketlist. So when we drove up towards the Coromandel Peninsula from our short interlude in Rotorua and the Wai-O-Tapu Volcanic Valley we of course drove by Matamata to visit the famous Hobbiton Set.
The entrance fee is pretty hefty, but to us it was all worth it. Hobbiton looks exactly like it does in the movie. The amount of detail in every hobbit house, garden and the whole area is incredible. Every house has its own littel theme, there are painter hobbits, carpenter hobbits and beekeepers, and their respective tools and things are displayed in front of their tiny houses.
The hobbit holes themselves come in different sizes, to trick you into thinking of different sized hobbits by viewing angles and perspective. And all of them are cute. Some of them even have smoking chimneys.
At the end of the tour lies the Green Dragon Pub, where you can enjoy a nice Ale, Cider or Lemonade. And then the time is up, way to fast!
What we didn't like so much about the Hobbiton Experience was the very short time you actually had there. You couldn't go and explore the set yourself, but only in a tour, with a guide. We would have loved spending more time wandering about, just taking in all the little details, but that wasn't really possible. I see why they do it, but nevertheless we believe we would have enjoyed our time there even more, if timing hadn't been so tight.
And that's already the next point. We were on the second tour in the morning. When we got into the park, we still got a glimpse of a tourist-empty hobbiton. By the time we were ready to leave, the tourgroups were standing in all sections of the set. With so many "intruders" the magic gets a little lost - but of course, we wanted to see it too, so we're part of the problem.
We still enjoyed our little trip to middle-earth, though. And we had expected both the short time and the bunch of people, so all in all it didn't bother us too much.