The story of the village
Back to 1998, Peter Jackson visited New Zealand for his adaptation of Tolkien’s book, “The Lord of the rings”. Flying over an isolated farm Peter Jackson found the perfect spot for “The Shire”. After negociations with Hollywood and having the autorisation of the farmer who lived there, the works to build the village started, we are in 1999.
The New Zealand army has been hired for the levelling work, 5000 m3 of soil were moved to build the 39 Hobbit’s holes of this temporary village. Indeed, after 3 month’s shooting they took the village apart and kept only 17 facades. It could have disappear forever and simply become a sheep’s holes for the farm. But that was whitout the succes of the first trilogy and the adaptation of “The Hobbit”. Back to New Zealand to re-build the village and make it evolve from 39 to 44 Hobbit’s holes, permanently this time. In 2012 they added the final touch of the place with the creation of the “Green Dragon” tavern.
To come to the village you will have 2 possibilities, the first one from the town of Matamata nearby, the departure will be at the i-site, you can find it easily as it looks like a Hobbit’s hole. Otherwise you can start from the “Shire’s Rest” which is straight in front of the village. Don’t think about seeing the village from the road, it’s impossible, they keep the village secret. To visit it, you will board a bus that will take you through the private property to the entrance of the village.
Beware, you have to know the departures from the “Shire’s Rest” are every 30 min, the result is a constant crowd on the spot. It’s not possible to visit the park by yourself, we were with a group of 30 people and a guide. To be honest, we don’t know if the first quality to be a guide is to be a real fan but our guide was amazing, energetic and she made us forget that we don’t generally like this kind of tour. What we liked was also that you learn a lot about the secrets and the tricks they used during the shooting, the guide is the connection between the movies and what you can see in front of you, it’s very useful when you have to remember 6 movies!
1h30 is the time you spend for the tour, we chose the earliest possible time for visit, at 9am, and honestly we highly recommend it or else pick the last visit of the day. The place is one of the most famous in New Zealand and even if we were the first group in the village, the following group caught up on us quickly.
When you are inside the village you can observe the facades of the hobbits’s holes, the gardens and other constructions around, build for the movies. And yes, you can only see the outside of the Hobbit’s holes because every indoor scene were shooted in the Wellington studios. It’s possible to see inside one hobbit’s hole where you can take souvenir photoshoots to go back home with your own picture.
We were really surprised about the realism of all the details and the beauty of the park, the place is beautiful and really well maintain, beware if you step out of the path, you always have someone watching !
I have to tell you about the “Green Dragon” tavern, it’s the end of the visit and here you will have a free drink = included in your ticket price. You will have the choice between a beer, a cider or a gingerbeer. They are special drinks from “The Shire” and you cannot find them elswhere. We loved the time we spend there to finish our visit but it’s good to know you will have only 30 min not more.
We loved the place, like we already said, we were like kids, amazed by everything. The scenery is beautiful and the explanations are clear. The drawback is only the price, 84$NZ per personne for 2h it’s a bit expensive even if you can easily imagine the work and the investment in the park.
Anyway we loved it and we recommend it for the magic environment of the place but if you’re not a fan of the movies you can probably skip the place and spend your money in other activities.
To visit “The Shire” you can book here.