All you need to know about Matamata, New Zealand

July 13

Once upon a time, Matamata was a sleepy rural town in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s still in the middle of the North Island, but since the birth of Lord of the Rings, things have changed a wee bit in Matamata.

What is Matamata known for?

Matamata, in the Waikato region of the North Island, is most famous for being home to the Hobbiton movie set. The 12 acre set is a hobbit-lover’s dream come true, with rolling hillsides of tiny dwellings. The Matamata locals aren’t particularly small, and they don’t have hairy feet, but a whole bunch of them did find work when the Hobbiton movie set was set up and Peter Jackson and his crew rolled into town. The Hobbiton movie set is open all year round. If New Zealand is Middle Earth for Lord of the Rings fans, Matamata is the palace at the nucleus of the action.

There are a bunch of ways to tour Hobbiton, and we’d highly recommend ending your exploration with a trip to the Green Dragon Inn, which was the meeting place for all residents of Hobbiton and includes a menu of ales and ‘fayre’ to enjoy by the roaring fire.

How far is Hobbiton from Matamata?

Hobbiton is close to Matamata, just 15 minutes south west of the town on a once family-run farm. The site is now the centre of Tolkien Tourism in the country, offering views across the rolling green countryside of the Waikato region and tours, evening banquets, mid-winter feasts and festivals. This is the glory of fandom at its finest.

How much does it cost to go to Hobbiton?

The Hobbiton Movie Set tour is about $90 per adult, youths are about $44, and kids under 8 are free! These tours usually leave from The Shire’s Rest, which is HQ and about 15 minutes from Matamata Town. The bus from here takes about 10 minutes into Hobbiton itself.

The other tours range in price, so depending what you’re after, it’s worth a search on their site.

Are there special events on at Hobbiton?

Yes indeed. From Evening Banquets to the Summer Harvest Festival and the Hobbiton Christmas, the yearly calendar is packed with events to completely immerse in the world of Hobbiton, and to share the stoke with fellow fans. Events in 2021 include the Mid-Winter Feast, the Hobbiton Christmas and International Hobbit Day. It might be time to plan your next Hobbit-themed vacay.

When is international Hobbit day?

International Hobbit Day will be on September 22nd, 2021, celebrating the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo. Needless to say, this is a big day in Hobbiton, usually with media attendance, and a tour of The Shire will be followed by a small but bustling marketplace at the Green Dragon Inn, and plenty of banquet tables and ale-filled kegs to share along the way.

How far is Matamata from Auckland?

Matamata is found just two hours from Auckland by car, which makes it an easy day trip or overnight visit if the wide rolling pastures are calling your name.

Where should I stay in Matamata?

There are plenty of options for accommodation in Matamata, but the best way to properly see the area has got to be a farmstay. Farmstays are a fantastic option to get immersed into New Zealand culture and share the real experience of life on a farm. Go luxury, or opt for a more rustic option where you might get a chance to chip in and contribute on the farm. Most are close by to both Matamata and the Hobbiton site, and the accommodation price will be including a hearty breakfast.

What are the best hike in Matamata?

Sick of hobbits? Fair enough. Luckily, Matamata is found in the heart of the mighty Waikato, and is full of beautiful hiking trails. The most famous would probably be the Wairere Falls, close by to town. Before you head out, check in at the i-Site, grab a map and check conditions. Their friendly staff are always available to offer help and extra information, too.

Where are the Wairere falls?

The Wairere falls are the highest waterfalls in the North Island and are found just 10 minutes from Matamata. The return hike to the waterfalls takes about an hour and a half, and the viewing platform offers a spectacular view of the cascading water tumbling 150m over the falls. It’s a gentle walk, but can be a sweaty one on hot summer days, and there are plenty of little streams along the way with water just perfect for refreshing tired legs.

Can you swim in the Wairere falls?

Yep, you can swim in the water at the top, but (obviously) don’t go too close to the edge.

What is the Matamata Heritage Trail?

For those who may like to explore some of the region’s non-Hobbiton places and relics, the Matamata Heritage Trail is a self-guided walking tour around the town, and winds through just over 5km of Matamata’s historic sites, parks and gardens.

How far is the Wallace gallery from Matamata?

For the non-hobbit culture-hungry visitors on a search for art, you may like the Wallace Gallery. To get here, take a little tiki tour to Morrinsville, which is about an hour away. Their 2021 exhibitions include Christchurch’s Jane Zusters and Wellington’s Alice Alva.

 


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