Are you starved for more Lord of the Rings? Are you chomping at the bit for new seasons of Rings of Power?
We feel you. As we try to quench our thirst for more Middle Earth, we've decided to take stock of some fun tidbits from Tolkien lore as an appetizer before our next meal.
An adventure to one of the series' most famous filming locations in New Zealand might lure fans out of their Hobbit Holes. Let's look at some fun facts you may have yet to learn about Hobbiton.
1. Yes, It’s a Real Place
Though practical considerations often require a soundstage, that wouldn’t do for the idyllic home of Middle Earth’s most peaceful beings. While location scouting in the late ’90s, an aerial search drew Peter Jackson and co. to Alexander Farm, a 12-acre sheep farm in Waikato, a region just south of Auckland on the North Island. With lush pastures and rolling fields for miles, they immediately knew this was their Hobbiton.
2. It’s Been Open Since 2002
After most of the set was taken down when filming concluded on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a few structures were left standing, and this formed the basis of the initial Hobbiton tours, which began sometime after Fellowship of the Ring was released.
When the crew returned to work on The Hobbit films, the village was reconstructed and made into the stunning Hobbiton movie set you see there today.
3. A Fellowship Is Required for This Particular Journey
Unfortunately, Hobbiton has a “no admittance except on guided tour business” policy. As tempting as it might be to venture into Hobbiton, only Gandalf the Grey can ride in on his horse and cart. For the rest of us mere mortals, the only way to experience Hobbiton is with a guided group tour. Private tours are available as well, though, for a merry band of travelers to a small group of up to six.
4. Second Breakfast Is a Very Real Thing in Hobbiton
Have you had a second breakfast yet? Hobbiton offers visitors a tour of the movie set first thing in the morning, followed by breakfast at the brand-new Millhouse on select weekends. At only an hour longer than the standard tour, it still gives you plenty of time to ensure you get another 5 square meals that day.
5. They Brew Their Own Ale
Ale, beer, cider. The ABCs of brewing are all here and all locally made. Drinks from Hobbiton’s very own Southfarthing Range are included with every tour, but for those who might like to sample more than one beverage, the Evening Banquet tour allows you to do just that.
The evening tour includes dinner and drinks at the Green Dragon Inn and the chance to walk around the set by lantern light.
6. You Can Visit for the Holidays
Not content to just be a set tour serving food sometimes, Hobbiton hosts several celebrations throughout the year, from their beer festival to Christmas to the Summer Harvest Festival in February. But before you think they forgot the biggest celebration of them all…
7. You Can Celebrate International Hobbit Day
When is International Hobbit Day, you ask? And what is it, for that matter? International Hobbit Day, September 22, is also the birthday of none other than Bilbo Baggins himself, as well as his nephew Frodo Baggins. At five hours, this is the longest of the tours offered, though granted, most of that time will be spent partying, Hobbit-style, including a large cake.
8. You Can Get Married There
If you’ve ever wanted to live out your Samwise Gamgee/Rosie Cotton fantasies, Hobbiton actually offers wedding packages to give your special day that Middle Earth flare.
9. There Is No Gift Shop on the Premises
At least not quite. While Hobbiton is confined to the movie set and the dining experiences, a gift shop sits a short distance away at Shire’s Rest. Fortunately, Shire’s Rest is the pick-up and drop-off point for the busses that carry all would-be Hobbits into town. As the busses are no longer picking up from Rotura or Matamata, all tours depart from Shire’s Rest, which features a gift shop, a café, and a meeting space known as The Hub.
10. Take a Banquet Tour
Fans interested in learning about Hobbit cuisine or dining rituals will want to check out the evening banquet tour. Every tour pass includes a special tour of Hobbiton by day, a two-course meal, a drink at The Green Dragon, and a special moonlight tour of the set.
11. It's an Ecological Refuge
Hobbits and the New Zealand locals that aid them designated Hobbiton and the surrounding area an eco refuge, and to date, have planted more than 3000 trees and other plants to keep the area ecologically sound for local flora and fauna.
12. It’s Not the Only Thing the Area Has To Offer
The convenient location of the Hobbiton set and the tour only taking two to four hours, depending on your experience, means that there’s plenty of time to experience the other wonders and beauties of New Zealand. For those interested in maintaining a fantastical tone to their trip, consider making the relatively short drive to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, home to a species of glowworm found only in New Zealand.