For our second attempt to visit Hobbiton we drove for over three hours. We passed the drive by saying aloud the names of towns as we travelled through, rolling their familiar Maori names over our tongues – Te Kuiti, Otorohanga, Te Awamutu.
Our first visit to Hobbiton ended with us leaving before we’d begun, when we turned up the day after boxing day without a booking to be told there was a three-hour wait. We grimaced at each other and Jack said ‘next time’, because there were other adventures waiting for us at Rotorua, Tongariro, and Mt Manuganui
New Zealand in summer is crazy busy, not only do we have the usual tourists from the Northern Hemisphere exchanging their dreary winters for some southern sun, but we have New Zealand tourists too. The roads are caked with families on holiday, students busing to music festivals and everyone else is in a Christmas frenzy. Restaurants are packed, museums are full of queues, and everything requires a pre-booking, so really, it’s not surprising we were turned away. This time we picked winter to visit Hobbiton, and we sacrificed sunny skies for crowd less photos – a fair exchange I think.
The thing about a tour like Hobbiton, is that it’s not the kind of travel to inspire great travel writing. It’s a structured tour, and while I enjoyed photographing the colours, the whimsical doors, I have very little to write about. In fact, the most interesting event of the day happened when Jack left the car lights on and we ran a dead battery. Luckily it happens every day - the staff brought out a battery pack and we were on our way again.
Is Hobbiton worth the $79 entrance fee?
If you’re a big fan of the movies, or (and I’m a little hesitant to write this) if you want to boost your social media accounts like Instagram, then you’ll have fun, perhaps learn something new and come away with some magical shots, it’s expensive, but what isn’t in NZ these days. Although, just because Hobbiton is considered a ‘hashtag NZmustdo’ destination doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be worth your money, and you may prefer to spend it elsewhere.
Things to know to ensure your Hobbiton trip goes as smoothly as possible:
The weather can change in the space of a few minutes, there are free umbrellas to use by the entrance – so grab one and make sure it works (we picked a dud).
The entrance to Hobbiton is not very well signposted, so if you don’t have a Sat-Nav, you should turn off State Highway 29 onto Puketutu Road just before Matamata, then left onto Buckland Road.
You HAVE to pre book in the summery months (Oct to March). In the winter (mid-year) you can just show up anytime and get on the next tour (the tour groups were about half full).
The cats name is pickles – keep an eye out for her in the Dragon’s Inn, you’ll probably find her in the armchair by the fire
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