The best thing about travelling is that it can sometimes transport us to fictional worlds that seem far from our reach. If you consider yourself a Lord Of The Rings fan and have always wondered what it would be like to visit The Shire, you must plan a trip to the idyllic Matamata in New Zealand, where the Hobbiton Movie Set is located.
Spanning over a 1250-acre family farm, the set was found way back in 1998 by Sir Peter Jackson's team of location scouts and was developed over the course of nine months to become what came to be known as The Shire in the trilogy. Here, not only can you tour the lush green rolling hills shown in the films, but you can also venture into the quaint hobbit holes and see what it looks like from within for the very first time since it was opened to tourists.
Hobbiton Movie Set's Chief Executive Officer Russell Alexander says, "For two decades, we've welcomed millions of passionate visitors to Hobbiton Movie Set, but never before has anyone ventured beyond the door of a Hobbit Hole like this."
Designed by renowned illustrators and concept designers John Howe and Alan Lee, known for their work on Middle-earth, alongside the renowned Art Director for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and Project Manager for Hobbiton Movie Set, Brian Massey, and Production Designer Ra Vincent, the hobbit holes are exactly like how they show them to be in the films.
If you are already planning your trip to the Hobbiton Movie Set, you can choose to take one of the many different types of tours available—some give you a complete experience by clubbing the tour across The Shire with a grand feast.
For more information on the price, tour duration and timings, visit the official Hobbiton Movie Set website.
To reach Matamata, fly to Auckland Airport, located 125 km away. Several airlines like Air India and Qantas fly frequently from Mumbai and Delhi with layovers in Sydney or Melbourne. From Auckland, you can reach Matamata by either hailing an InterCity bus straight from the airport, which takes roughly 3 hours and costs NZD 37 or INR 1,898.
Indian citizens must apply for a visitor visa on New Zealand Immigration's official website. The visa costs NZD 211 or INR 10,820 and takes approximately 33 weekdays for processing. Apart from submitting essential documents as ID proof, you need to supplement your application with proof of sufficient balance in your bank account.
Where to Stay:
Matamata is unlike the more cosmopolitan Auckland. It is a small town. Therefore, the accommodations available are mostly inns and lodges that come equipped with basic modern facilities like WiFi. The most popular is the Matamata Central Motel, located only 15 minutes away by car.