It didn't take long to get from Rotorua to Matamata so we where there around dinner time whilst it was still light. We parked at a free car park called Pohlen Park in the middle of a housing estate. There wasn't anything there, just houses all around us, which was awkward, a big field, a playground and a sports hall. It was probably the most awkward place we have parked as it was literally in the middle of people's houses but it was very close to Hobbiton and Matamata town centre, so it wasn't too bad just for one night. Other people were in campers and some cars turned up later too and at around 8.30pm a warden came round to check who was self contained and who wasn't, making people move on who weren't. It was the first time we had anyone ask or check anything.
On the 4th we had a walk around Matamata town centre and then drove to Shires Rest Cafe to start our Hobbiton tour! The set was originally built for The Lord of the Rings and took 9 months to build, but it was then taken down and rebuilt using permanent materials for The Hobbit trilogies and then used as a tourist attraction. The set using permanent materials for The Hobbit took 2 years to build. Hobbiton is the most northern location for the films in New Zealand, with 158 other locations that were used for The Lord of the Rings and an additional 27 for The Hobbit trilogies. Most other locations were not actual sets and were used as their natural setting, so if you visit them now they are untouched and the same as in the films. Most of the locations are in the South Island and Wellington has the film set for all of the indoor filming. The Hobbiton set was built on a sheep and cow farm owned by a family in Matamata, that were approached by Sir Peter Jackson to use their farm for his films. It was agreed that for The Lord of The Rings that all the set would be taken down afterwards and the land would be returned as found, but when they then decided to film the Hobbiton films, the family said they could do so only if they left a permanent set behind.
We took a 10 minute coach drive at the start of our tour through the 1,250 acre of farmland, which had brilliant views over the Kaimai Mountain Ranges. We then had a guide that took us around the set for and hour and a half, showing us hobbit holes, the gardens, Bilbo Baggins house, the Mill and finally stopping in The Green Dragon Inn where we had a Hobbiton Amber Ale. The two different ales, one cider and one handcrafted ginger beer are all brewed just for The Green Dragon Inn and are not available anywhere else in the world. We also found out that the tree that is on the hill above Baggins hobbit hole house is worth half a million dollars and was crafted using various materials, with every leaf hand stitched on, only to feature in the films for 4 seconds!
The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour was fun, I enjoyed it more than Nath did, but we both had a good day and found out some good but crazy facts about the films! After the tour we set off on our drive to Waitomo through the lovely picturesque countryside!