The Shire Really Exists, And It’s Way More Beautiful In Real Life

Most of Lord of the Rings’ (LOTR) world of Arda and its inhabitants are imaginary, but what’s not is the charming Alexander Farm in Matamata, New Zealand. Doesn’t ring any bells? Well, that’s because you probably know it as Hobbiton, the quaint hometown of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.

Hobbiton: The Heart of The Shire

In the fantastic Middle Earth of Lord of the Rings, Hobbiton is located in the center of the Shire, and is where the hobbits live.

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Did you know? The hobbit holes are constructed to differ in size. It is meant to play with the perspective of the actors, making them appear taller or shorter whenever needed. (Image credit: David Broad, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1998, director Peter Jackson was scouting for suitable filming venues for the first LOTR film series, when he chanced upon Ian Alexander’s farm. It was a 500ha rolling grassland that Jackson commented looked like “a slice of ancient England”.  How apt indeed, considering that J. R. R. Tolkien reportedly described the Shire as “a Warwickshire village” from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee era.

The team materialized the hobbit village from Tolkien’s literature, filmed there, and then removed the structures once the LOTR trilogy was done and dusted. The film site gained popularity with fans of the series, and Alexander conducted guided tours around the remaining hobbit holes and more. In 2009, they rebuilt the Shire on the farm for the Hobbit trilogy, this time, with the agreement that it would be permanent.

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A fascinating fact: The crew had to have someone dedicated to catching frogs because they were croaking so loudly it disrupted the filming! (Image credit: Tom Hall / CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

And that’s the story of how the Hobbiton came to be!

Some of the most popular landmarks include:

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The Green Dragon Inn is often referred to as a “great” place in the movies, and there is even a Green Dragon Song!

The Green Dragon Inn: In the movies, you’d recognize this bar as a popular gathering spot for the little people to eat, drink, and be merry. You can do the same—opened in 2012, the Green Dragon Inn serves beers and light bites.

The Mill & Double-arched Bridge: These structures get a reasonable amount of screen time, and when put together with the cobbled paths, picket fences, and mini mailboxes, add life to the pseudo medieval landscape.

The Party Tree: This massive tree is where Bilbo Baggin’s farewell birthday party was held. The iconic tree is also the one that fell after the War of the Ring, devastating Sam Gamgee.

Ready for a Middle-earth adventure? Good!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Available at Changi Recommends here.
Tour runs daily, all year round (except Christmas Day).

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The Changi Recommends Hobbiton Movie Set Tour includes not just a tour of the movie set, but a feeding session with the farm lambs, and light refreshments. (Image credit: David Broad / CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

This half-day tour takes you around the Hobbiton movie set, with an experienced and knowledgeable guide to share insights on the building of this picturesque facade, as well as fun facts about it.  It departs from Rotorua, passing by the scenic Mamaku Ranges and through the Fitzgerald Glade before reaching the Shire. Alexander’s farm rears sheep and cattle, which you will see as well. In fact, after visiting the key highlights of Hobbiton, you’ll even get to bottle feed the lambs!

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Ready to embark on your adventure?
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