The fantastic sets of the Shire have been turned into a real, functioning resort.
One of the most striking aspects of The Lord of the Rings is how much the Hobbits loved their home, the Shire. From all the scenes set in their vivid green pastures, it’s easy to understand why. The easy-going pace Hobbits are famous for is commonly mistaken for lethargy, but when surrounded by lush, fertile hills that display a prime example of the majesty of creation, it is only natural that a society would learn to take their time and enjoy the sights.
Now, everyone can experience the Hobbits’ fondness for their homeland, as a New Zealand resort has opened at the site of the Shire set. The Hobbiton Movie Set was first discovered on the Alexander farm, a stunning 1,250-acre sheep farm in the heart of the Waikato, in 1998, when Peter Jackson was scouting possible locations for the Shire. With no power lines, roads, or buildings in sight, Jackson was able to leave the 20th century behind and immerse audiences in Middle-earth.
During the first trilogy, the site was constructed mostly with plywood facades. The set was deconstructed after filming, but there was enough left that guided tours through the fake town could be offered. This was the first incarnation of Hobbiton, but it wasn’t until the second trilogy (the Hobbit films) that the site was developed with 44 permanently constructed Hobbit Holes and even the Green Dragon Inn.
Hobbiton is now a fully functioning resort that allows guests to immerse themselves in the Shire. Activities include guided tours through the movie sets and several caves in the area, the world famous geyser Pohutu — the southern hemisphere’s largest active geyser — New Zealand’s national weaving school, and even “black” water rafting.
There are several watering holes in which guests can get beverages Hobbits might drink, as well as a restaurant, Te Puia, the home of Maori culture and cuisine.
The activities all sound fun, but the real draw is found in wandering the grounds and seeing the world through a Hobbit’s eyes. As described it on the website:
An event at Hobbiton™ Movie Set is an experience to tantalize the senses of visitors, as guests find themselves engulfed in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of The Shire™… Nestled in the rolling green hills of the Waikato, visitors are given the once in a lifetime opportunity to see an iconic movie set in its full glory; from wandering the rambling paths of the Shire, to seeing the submerged Hobbit Holes™ that litter the rolling hillsides.