Step Inside A Real 'Hobbit Hole' From The Lord Of The Rings At This New Zealand Experience

It's not every day you get invited into a Hobbit's home. For years, fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies have been gazing at such dwellings from the outside as they flock to a former sheep farm near Matamata, New Zealand. Located about two hours outside Auckland, this is where you can take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, home of the diminutive, hairy-footed Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. 

Tours of the Hobbiton set remains began in 2002 before The Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded in 2003. However, when Director Peter Jackson returned to the area in 2009 to shoot The Hobbit trilogy, the full movie set was recreated and left intact as a tourist attraction. Even then, doors to the underground Hobbit Holes burrowed into the picturesque green hillside in the fictional Shire region (New Zealand's Waikato region) were closed to visitors. You could wander through the town and admire the holes from the outside. However, most were just façades built to give Hobbiton the illusion of life and depth in background shots onscreen. 

All that has changed with the opening of two authentic Hobbit Holes, where fans can finally venture inside for the first time. These two immersive spaces have been added to the regular tour of Hobbiton. Now, guests can duck their heads like Gandalf, the wizard, and walk down a round hallway into the heart of Hobbit home life.

Explore a home on Bagshot Lane

The two nearly-identical Hobbit Holes are holding their permanent open house on Bagshot Lane, where Frodo's faithful companion, Samwise Gamgee, lives. You can't go beyond the yellow door to Sam's home since it's a façade, and there's nothing else there, but you can visit his neighbors. Their detailed interior dwellings — complete with enough pantry supplies to feed a Hobbit family seven meals a day — have been designed by members of the same creative teams that brought The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to life.

In a Facebook video, Peter Jackson said that the homes on Bagshot Lane are the "culmination of a huge amount of work." The filmmaker indicated that making the inside tours a reality was something that had been in talks for years. "It was very important for us," he said, "that you get to go through a Hobbit Hole and it feels lived in. It feels like the Hobbit, whoever lives in there, has just gone down the road to do some shopping or go to the marketplace, but will be back very soon."

The full Hobbiton Movie Set tour lasts 2.5 hours, with tour groups being split up and allowed to spend about 16 minutes inside one of the two Hobbit Holes. You can look around, take pictures, and make yourself at home. Just imagine that the Hobbit family who lives there will be coming back soon like Jackson said, and you need to leave before then.

Other highlights of Hobbiton

With the Hobbit Holes on Bagshot Lane, it's as if the production crew behind your favorite Middle-earth movies has built two new working sets where you and your tour group are the stars. Amazon's The Lord of the Rings streaming series may have uprooted its production to the U.K., but for fans of Peter Jackson's films, the real Middle-earth may always be associated with sweeping shots of New Zealand's landscapes. They're what moviegoers saw when the world of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels first made the transition to live action.

Hobbiton is accessible by bus from the Shire's Rest ticketing center. If a 16-minute walk-through of a Hobbit Hole, decorated with a fireplace, family tree, and hand-painted props, doesn't feel like enough time, the rest of the winding set tour may make up for it with other recognizable movie sights. You'll also see Bag End, where Frodo and Bilbo live, as well as the stone bridge and millhouse Gandalf passed when he first entered Hobbiton in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

At the end, you can enter the Green Dragon Inn and enjoy a free drink like Sackville Cider. It and The Millhouse double as venues for add-on experiences such as the Evening Banquet Tour and Second Breakfast Tour. While you dine like merry hobbits, you can do a dwarf sing-along to songs like "Blunt the Knives." For the truly dedicated Tolkien tourist, don't miss our complete Lord of the Rings fan guide to New Zealand.