Country: New Zealand
Closest Town: Matamata
Tour Prices: NZ$75 [adult], NZ$38 [youth, 10-14 years], NZ$10 [child, 5-9 years], free admission for children under 5 years old.
You can access the café without attending a tour – it is open to everyone… so if you’re with a few friends that are LOTR or Hobbit fanatics and you couldn’t care less, you can hang out and wait for them in the comfortable café and relax with coffee and good food. Or grab a something while waiting for your tour.
The Party Tree
The tree was actually a real tree at one time somewhere else on the property. It was then removed, chopped up, and then reassembled above Bilbo’s home in such a way to give it the right shape and size… The limbs were once real, but the leaves are not…There is a tree on the set that Peter Jackson [the director of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit] had specially made for the movie set. It a pretty important part of the story, so he wanted it to be just right – in the right location and right look… to get it just right [and what makes this tree so special], Peter Jackson had the tree designed and handmade! That’s right; the tree that you see above Bilbo’s hobbit-hole is fake! I couldn’t believe it and I was standing directly beneath it!
Each individual leaf is fake, was hand painted and then glued on the tree one-by-one.
It is said [on the tour] that the tree was assembled and used in a few shots of the movie and then, due to the sun, the leaves began to fade in color… faded color is not to Peter Jackson’s high standards of film-making so he had every leaf removed and hand painted AGAIN and then put back… again, one-by-one. Amazing.
Another detail that wasn’t overlooked by Jackson was using the correct sheep. “Romney” sheep are the sheep that are on the existing farm, but these sheep are actually too modern looking so “Heritage Suffolk” sheep were brought in and used on the set instead.
After the tour, you are invited to watch how a sheep is sheared and feed/pet the little lambs.
Tour guides let you know interesting information such as how fences were aged with “lichen” made by spraying on a mixture of cardboard and yogurt – fences are now overgrown by real lichen…
Tourists are also told of how some tourists in past years have attended the tour in full costume – one was an almost seven foot tall European man dressed like a hobbit [most likely the tallest hobbit ever]!
There is Pub on site that [wasn’t open yet when I was there but] should be open now. Imagine going out for the night for some beers with friends and drinking in the pub where the Hobbits drink?! Awesome!