Local craftsmen and builders combined old-fashioned methods with modern technology to create the eye-catching Middle-earth-themed exterior of the Matamata i-SITE on the main street of this Waikato town.
With the perfect combination of rolling hills and fertile plains, Matamata, meaning headland in Māori, has its rural roots in the thoroughbred horse breeding and dairy farming sectors.
- Hobbiton Movie Set
- Firth Tower Museum
- Middle-earth themed Matamata i-SITE
- Horse Races
- Gourmet Ice Cream and produce
- Wairere Falls & Walk
- Heritage Trail
- Hauraki Rail Trail
For many visitors the main drawcard is the HobbitonTM Movie Set on the Alexander family farm, a short distance from the town of Matamata. First the location for Sir Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, the farm then became the location for The Hobbit trilogy with the set constructed to be a permanent attraction.
A fully guided walking tour takes you around the Shire where you can check out the hobbit holes and gardens, and hear the entertaining stories about how the set was designed and built. Afterwards, drop in to the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary beverage from the Hobbit Southfarthing range - two traditional ales, an apple cider and a non-alcoholic ginger beer. There’s also delicious fare available for purchase - does a traditional beef and ale pie appeal, or perhaps the ploughman sandwich?
Other options include an evening banquet tour and a second breakfast tour, along with special events and celebrations - for example, the biggest party of the year to mark Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthday on International Hobbit Day in September.
Beyond the Hobbiton Movie Set, also popular with visitors to the Matamata area are walking and cycling trails, including in the nearby Kaimai Ranges where one of the highlights is the highest waterfall in the North Island, the Wairere Falls - 135 metres of cascading water surrounded by native forest.
In Matamata, where large trees line the wide main street, the eateries and bars are ready with a warm welcome, great food with an emphasis on locally grown and craft beer and cider. Also worth exploring are the town’s boutique style shops, many of them locally owned.
The iconic Firth Tower Estate and Museum, in its park-like setting, gives insight into the area’s pioneering history with heritage buildings, including a homestead, school and jail.
Historic sites and place names honour the legendary Māori chief Wiremu Tamihana. He was a major force in establishing the Māori King Movement (Kīngitanga) in the early 1850s to help protect against European encroachment on Māori lands at that time, as well as maintain peace amongst the different tribes.
About a 30-minute drive from Matamata is Morrinsville where there’s more for visitors with shopping in mind - from antiques and local fashion to local arts and crafts.
How far to:
- Auckland: 160kms 2 hours
- Rotorua: 72kms 1 hour
- Tauranga: 50kms 44mins