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Dec 2016: Hobbiton Movie Set wins top awards at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards

Who would have thought 16 years ago that a bare hillside out of Matamata would house a tourism business attracting almost 500,000 visitors annually? Thanks to the perseverance of the Alexander family, devoted staff and the support of Sir Peter Jackson, that’s what Hobbiton Movie Set has achieved.

Hobbiton Movie Set wins top awards at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards

Russell Alexander, General Manger of Hobbiton Movie Set was honored to win the Business Growth Award, Marketing awards and the Supreme Award at the Waikato Business Awards at Claudelands early this month. Adding to the impressive array of awards already collected by the business at the Tourism Industry Awards earlier this year.

Marketing collaborations with Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand and the Waikato RTO have enabled Hobbiton to cut through the noise to build brand recognition internationally. Visitors to Hobbiton Movie Set have grown almost 10 fold over the past four years.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive William Durning said the award reflected a lot of hard work.

"The intense competition and quality of entries, coupled by the fact that the judges deliberated long and hard over selecting winners should give great pride to Russell Alexander and all the team from Hobbiton Movie Set," he said.

"Hobbiton Movie Set has re-directed tourism flows in New Zealand and catapulted Matamata into the spotlight. Hobbiton has become one of the 'must see' destinations in New Zealand with approximately one in eight international visitors visiting Hobbiton during their trip.

"This success is attributed to a focus on continuous improvement, staff quality and revenue diversification. With 460,000 visitors in 2016, the company has worked tirelessly to realise the vision of an authentic and informative visitor experience within a living movie set.

"The business is delivering across customer experience, growth, and bottom line performance targets. It has effective strategies to continue a high rate of growth into the future. It gives back to its local community on multiple levels. Hobbiton is a stunning, well run business that is delivering not only regionally but to the New Zealand economy as well."

Russell Alexander, Managing Director of Hobbiton Movie Set, said, “we are excited and humbled to receive three prestigious awards. It’s also fantastic to be recognized by our industry peers for our efforts in business and marketing. Hobbiton is proud to be based in the Waikato region, which is strongly emerging as an international visitor destination”.


A long yet rewarding journey

It has been a long journey since a location scout first came knocking on the Alexander farm door in 1998. Back then, the fertile green paddocks on a quiet back country road were home to the Alexander family, and their grazing livestock - 13,500 sheep and around 300 cattle.

Hobbiton was then created by director Sir Peter Jackson to depict the home of the Hobbits for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

In December 2002, Russell Alexander conducted the first tours of the movie set, which was rebuilt out of permanent materials from 2009 to 2011 for The Hobbit Trilogy.

Since then, tourists from all over the world have been flocking to Hobbiton Movie Set to get their own insider’s view of the epic filming projects, making it the largest permanent film set to visit in the world. The two-hour tour shows tourists around 44 Hobbit Holes dug into the green Waikato hillside, Hobbit orchards, the Party Tree and party field, and finishes with a pint in The Green Dragon™ Inn.

“I can honestly say I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be this big. From where we began in 2002, running a couple of tours in our small van, to where we are now is very humbling and a true testament to the great team we have here at Hobbiton Movie Set. It doesn’t stop here though, I have made it a personal goal to do something new every year. We have some very exiting additions to be unveiled in the next 12 months, so watch this space,” says Alexander.