The Lord of the Rings films had breathtaking scenery, but I didn’t expect the Hobbiton farm to be quite so breathtaking. The place was just a normal sheep farm until Peter Jackson came along and decided to pay these farmers a lot of money to make it a movie set.
The Hobbiton Movie Set tour begins at a reception and souvenir building, from which the tour group takes a bus through the sheep farm areas and towards the movie set. I had chosen the last tour of the day so that we’d have plenty of time to make our way down from Coromandel, so we had a lot of beautiful late afternoon light. We were surrounded by picturesque rolling green hills covered in little white sheep dots. Did the sheep know they lived on such a magical property?
Our tour guide took us through the Hobbiton Movie Set section by section — an effort to minimize tourists’ footprint on the place masked as a “””health and safety policy.””” The movie set that was used to film the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was made of temporary set materials that were taken down after filming. However, when it came time to film the Hobbit, Peter Jackson and company realized the great moneymaking potential of recreating the set out of permanent materials, so the set that we can pay to see today was the one used for filming the Hobbit (based on the original novel by JRR Tolkien and adapted into a series of three movies for maximum financial return). While I was planning my tour here, my dad frequently reminded me of this, like “oh but it’s just the one they used for the Hobbit.” But during the tour, our guide really encouraged us to believe that the set was basically the same as the one from the Lord of the Rings, and boy did I believe!
On the outside, I was like “I am not a tourist” but on the inside I was like AAAHHH I’M IN MIDDLE EARTH. As it turns out, when casting for hobbits, the maximum cast height was 5′ 4″. I happen to be 5′ 2″. Did you know that I played a halfling in my Dungeons and Dragons group? There are two sizes of hobbit holes built for filming — small ones, which would be for “real life” hobbits, and bigger ones, to film the cast members as hobbits. When our tour guide asked if anyone knew how tall “real life” hobbits are supposed to be, I was like I KNOW I KNOW PICK ME and I got the question right, because guess what, I was a halfling in my Dungeons and Dragons group. I also answered a couple other questions correctly. I knew no answers to any of the Hobbit movie questions, and was proud of that as well.
The set was magnificent. All the plants are real except for this one really expensive fake tree that resides on top of Bilbo’s house. I kept wondering which hobbit hole was used to film the scene where the black rider comes up and is like SHIIIIREEEE…. BAGGINNSSS…. because wow scary aaaah, but I didn’t ask. Too scary.
As Peter Jackson searched for a set location for Hobbiton, he was apparently looking for three things: a large tree, rolling hills, and a body of water. Those things were all present at this farm. The large tree was where Bilbo’s 111th birthday party was filmed, and we got to see that area as well. The tree was much smaller in person.
Our tour came to a close at the Green Dragon Inn, though this was just the Green Dragon Inn made for tourists to play pretend. With our tour ticket came a “complimentary” beer at the inn, to which I responded IT COMES IN PINTS??? Sometimes I feel like Pippin.
It did not actually come in pints.
The tour bus took us back and I was all like wow in my head. Hayden and I decided that this had achieved the high honor of Best Tourist Trap.