Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

During our recent trip to New Zealand my wife and I took part in a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies will be familiar with this unique site.

My wife thoroughly enjoyed the tour, as did I – even though I have not read any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy nor seen any of the related movies.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 23mm, efov 61mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-800

The tour takes groups through the movie set that was constructed on a 1,250 acre sheep farm in the Waikato area.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-160

After using this location for the original Lord of the Rings movies Sir Peter Jackson returned in 2009 to film the Hobbit movie trilogy.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/320, ISO-400

The site features a total of 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes with the same details seen in the movies.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 41mm, efov 109mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 39mm, efov 104mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-400

We found our tour guide to be very personable and knowledgeable and it was fascinating to hear about the attention to detail that Sir Peter Jackson insisted upon during the construction of the movie set and during filming.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 16mm, efov 43mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-160

Individual Hobbit Holes were built to different specifications depending on the height of the actors in order to achieve the size perspectives required in the various movie scenes.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 16mm, efov 43mm, f/9, 1/80, ISO-160

A bus fleet transports people from the main gate and staging area to the Hobbiton Movie Set. It is a pleasant drive through some idyllic New Zealand countryside.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/400, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-800

The cost per person was $79 NZ for adults and $39.50 for youths 9-16 years for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Children up to 8 are free. Some folks may find this a bit pricey, but we felt the tour was very unique and the experience worth the cost.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 7mm, efov 19mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800

Being on a tour with about 25-30 other people in your group does present some challenges from a photography standpoint. You do need to compose and capture images very rapidly if your objective is to have photographs without tourists in them.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 8mm, efov 22mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800

I enjoyed the challenge of walking up to each Hobbit Hole and trying to quickly visualize my shots as well as alternative compositions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-800

At times I only had a second or two to capture my images before tourists entered the frame.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-800

Given the number of people touring through the site at any given time it is best to plan to shoot hand-held. Using a tripod or monopod could be problematic. Using a zoom lens will provide a lot of flexibility with your framing.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, efov 35mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-800

I shot in aperture priority mode to achieve the desired depth-of-field and adjusted my ISO to impact shutter speed in order to compensate for flower and foliage movement due to the breezy conditions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30, ISO-3200

The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour includes a visit to the Green Dragon Inn and a complimentary beverage which includes various beers or hard cider if desired. Food is also available at additional cost.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 69mm, efov 186mm, f/5.6 1/8, ISO-3200

Always up for a photographic challenge, I used some of my time at the Green Dragon Inn to practice my slow shutter speed hand-holding technique with my Nikon 1 J5, attempting some images at 1/8 and 1/15 of a second.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 48mm, efov 129mm, f/5.6 1/15, ISO-3200

It is important to note that one of the conditions of entry to the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is that you are not allowed to use any of your photographs for commercial gain. If you plan on using any images on your blog etc. it is best to contact the owners of the Hobbiton Movie Set site and obtain permission (as I did) before publishing your images on line. Under no circumstances will you be allowed to make and sell prints of your images.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 48mm, efov 129mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-800

I used my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite to process all of the images in this article from RAW files. All were shot hand-held in available light. I applied some perspective control adjustments in OpticsPro 11 to a number of images in this article.

If you are planning a visit to New Zealand the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is certainly worth serious consideration. We had folks from all over the world in our tour group which added to the experience.

If you enjoyed this article you may want to have a look at New Zealand Tip-to-Tip. This 250 page eBook features 89 locations in New Zealand and over 400 original photographs. You can use the link to see more detailed information about the eBook. The cost of New Zealand Tip-to-Tip is $12.99 Canadian.


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5 thoughts on “Hobbiton Movie Set Tour”

  1. I agree with Ray! You did a totally amazing job on this. These are some of the best photos I have seen of Hobbiton! I just LOVE the look of these cute, little, houses and gardens. Your lucky to see them in person. Thanks for posting them here for everyone to enjoy.

    1. Thanks for the comment Joni – much appreciated! It was my wife’s idea to go to Hobbiton and we both loved the experience! It was the highlight of the trip for my wife and ranked right up there for me as well.

  2. Tom:
    Another outstanding collection from your recent tour of New Zealand. This set of images of the Hobbiton movie set allows the viewer to visualize this setting as if they were present with you. The compositions capture the uniqueness of this setting and there is no hint that it is a place just erected for a movie scene. Given the need for speed to compose these images without the intrusion of tourists, you have succeeded in giving us a gift of visual enjoyment!

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