Welcome to the enchanting town of Matamata, an unassuming jewel nestled in the heart of New Zealand's North Island. Known globally as the setting of the Shire in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Matamata is a haven for both film buffs and nature enthusiasts. Here, storybook landscapes come to life, delivering an unforgettable blend of cinematic history and natural beauty.
The Story of Matamata
Matamata, initially a Māori pā (fortified village), has evolved into a captivating rural town over the centuries. However, it wasn't until the 1990s when the area was transformed into the magical Hobbit Town, known as Hobbiton™, that Matamata started drawing global attention. Today, this charming township is a must-visit destination, offering a vibrant tapestry of experiences.
The Unique Charm of Matamata
Matamata's charm lies in its lush, rolling hills, quaint town centre, and the warm hospitality of its locals. From the minute you arrive, you'll feel as though you've stepped into a different world—one where hobbits dwell, and adventures await around every corner. The town is also a gateway to the Kaimai Ranges, offering stunning outdoor experiences to those keen to explore beyond Hobbiton.
Getting to Matamata
Travelling to Matamata from Major Cities
Conveniently located, Matamata is just a two-hour drive from Auckland and a one-hour drive from Hamilton, making it an easily accessible day-trip or weekend getaway. Those journeying in the comfort of a campervan can use Campervan New Zealand for reliable rentals.
Transport Options within Matamata
Once in Matamata, getting around is a breeze. The town centre is compact and walkable, with key attractions like the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre and local eateries all within a short stroll. For exploring further afield, including Hobbiton, it's best to have a vehicle.
Unmissable Attractions in Matamata
Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tour
Undoubtedly, the star attraction, the Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tour is a must when considering things to do in Matamata. Step into the world of Middle Earth, wander past Hobbit Holes, and immerse yourself in the magic of the Shire. End your tour with a pint at the iconic Green Dragon™ Inn, just as a true hobbit would! Tours run daily, rain or shine, reflecting the true Hobbit spirit.
Wairere Falls Adventure
If you're a nature enthusiast, the Wairere Falls walk is an unmissable experience. As the highest waterfall in North Island, it provides breathtaking views of the Waikato plains and the mountain ranges. The trail can be tackled year-round, but visiting after rains allows for the most spectacular waterfall view.
Exploring Firth Tower Museum
Travel back in time at the Firth Tower Museum, a fascinating collection of historic buildings showcasing Matamata's rural heritage. Experience how the early settlers lived, worked, and played, through well-preserved artifacts and stories.
Outdoor Activities: Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park
For those seeking more adventure, Matamata serves as a gateway to Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park. It offers an extensive network of walking and tramping tracks, taking you through lush forests, alongside clear streams, and up to scenic lookouts.
Matamata's Local Cuisine
Top Matamata Eateries and Cafés
Matamata may be small, but it boasts a range of delightful cafés and eateries. For a meal fit for a hobbit, visit The Redoubt, known for its hearty dishes and cosy atmosphere. Meanwhile, Workman's Café is a local favourite, offering delicious food and excellent coffee.
A Taste of Local Specialities
While in Matamata, tasting local specialities is a must. Make sure to try New Zealand's classic pies, fish and chips, or the iconic Kiwi burger. And for those with a sweet tooth, the traditional pavlova and hokey pokey ice cream are not to be missed!
Accommodation Guide for Matamata
Best Hotels and Lodges in Matamata
From luxury lodges to cosy B&Bs, Matamata offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveller. Tower Road Motel is a favourite, with comfortable rooms and excellent service. For those seeking a more luxurious stay, the De Preaux Lodge offers high-end amenities with picturesque views of the surrounding countryside.
Unique Stays: Hobbit-Inspired Accommodations
In the spirit of Matamata, New Zealand, consider booking a hobbit-inspired accommodation for an unforgettable stay. The Hobbiton Haven is a perfect example, offering a hobbit-hole-like stay that makes you feel like you're part of the Shire.
Matamata Event Calendar
Popular Events and Festivals in Matamata
Matamata's events calendar is teeming with exciting activities all year round. The highlight is the International Hobbit Day, celebrated on September 22nd, with grand festivities at the Hobbiton™ Movie Set. Keep an eye on the official Hobbiton events page for up-to-date information.
Practical Tips for Visiting Matamata
Best Time to Visit Matamata
The best time to visit Matamata depends on what you want to do. The Matamata weather is generally pleasant year-round, but for outdoor activities, spring and summer offer the most favourable conditions. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, visiting on International Hobbit Day (September 22nd) can add extra magic to your trip.
Local Customs and Etiquette
Kiwis are known for their friendly and laid-back nature. While visiting Matamata, a simple smile and greeting can go a long way. When visiting natural sites, respect the environment and follow the "leave no trace" principle.
Embrace the Magic of Matamata
Whether you're a Tolkien enthusiast, a nature lover, or a traveller in search of unique experiences, Matamata offers an unforgettable journey. This quaint township, with its rich history, charming landscapes, and warm hospitality, captures the hearts of all who visit. So, why wait? Hire a motorhome in New Zealand and start planning your magical Matamata adventure today!