The story of how a working sheep and beef farm in the middle of the New Zealand countryside was transformed into the fictional village of Hobbiton in the Shire is as epic as Tolkien’s tale! Here’s a timeline of the history of Hobbiton and the filming of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies.
September 1998: Peter Jackson’s team spots the farm during an aerial location search and approaches the Alexander family - unfortunately, they knocked on the door while the family were watching an international test rugby match and were told to go away and wait! Eventually they were given an audience, a contract was signed and history was made.
March 1999: Site construction starts at Hobbiton, with the New Zealand army contracted to dig a road into the property.
October 1999: Filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy begins in Wellington while construction and set design continues at Hobbiton.
December 1999: Filming begins at Hobbiton and lasts for three months.
January 2000: Sir Ian McKellan arrives in New Zealand to shoot the first of his scenes as the wizard Gandalf.
December 2000: Filming on the Lord of the Rings trilogy wraps.
December 2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring released.
December 2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers released.
December 2002: Russell Alexander begins running guided tours of the set – at this stage mostly deconstructed with empty Hobbit holes, paths and the party tree, but word spreads and the tours become very popular.
December 2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King released.
2004-2008: Tours of the set continue with visitors coming from all over the world to see the home of the hobbits.
2009: Construction begins in preparation for filming of The Hobbit trilogy. The set is rebuilt in permanent materials.
2011: Parts of Hobbiton begin to close in preparation for filming for The Hobbit trilogy.
March 2011: Filming starts at Hobbiton. The site remains open throughout, with some filming and photography restrictions.
July 2012: Filming on The Hobbit movies ends.
November 2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey released
December 2012: The Green Dragon Inn opens at Hobbiton. Visitors can now enjoy traditional pub fare as well as special 'Southfarthing' beers and ciders locally brewed and only available at Hobbiton.
July 2013: The last additional shots for the Hobbit trilogy are filmed
November 2013: Finishing touches on the permanent dwellings are completed, including night lighting and other effects.
December 2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug released
December 2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies released
March 2015: Hobbiton welcomes its one millionth visitor!
Take your place in Hobbiton's history with a visit to this amazing movie set and natural attraction on a GreatSights Hobbiton day tour.