One Million and Counting


For well over a decade tourists have been visiting a small pocket of green farmland in the depths of Middle-earth New Zealand, which recently celebrated a milestone with its one-millionth visitor.

Hobbiton Movie Set, near Matamata in New Zealand’s Waikato region, has welcomed its one-millionth visitor in a celebration that coincided with the very reason for its existence. As the movie set milestone was reached in the lush hills of the real Middle-earth New Zealand, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” – the final film in Sir Peter Jackson’s epic Trilogies adapting the timeless novels of J.R.R. Tolkien – was being released to the world on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Hobbiton Movie Set is now one of New Zealand’s most visited tourist attractions and has become an international bucket-list travel destination. Since filming wrapped on The Hobbit Trilogy, New Zealand has seen an unprecedented increase in the flow of fans and tourists to the country, with more visitors than ever before citing the popular films as an influencing factor when choosing New Zealand as a holiday destination.

Pictured, Dan McCormack, the Hobbit Movie Set’s one-millionth visitor, with his wife and Hobbiton Movie Set general manager Russell Alexander

Tourism New Zealand’s chief executive Kevin Bowler says that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, more recently, The Hobbit Trilogy gave New Zealand a unique opportunity to showcase itself as a visitor destination by leveraging off one of the largest movie franchises in history.

“The Trilogies have put New Zealand and its stunning landscapes centre stage for movie lovers world-wide, and Tourism New Zealand’s work has been to connect the landscapes of Middle-earth with the experiences of a real life New Zealand holiday,” he said. “And while the Trilogies are complete, New Zealand’s association as the home of the cinematic Middle-earth will live on. The establishment of Middle-earth tourism experiences – the most famous being Hobbiton Movie Set – ensures the legacy continues.”

The Hobbiton Movie Set covers approximately 12 acres and features 44 Hobbit Holes, as well as a 70- to 80-metre-tall Party Tree. The set is a two-hour drive from Auckland and within easy access of other tourist destinations including Rotorua, Waitomo, Tauranga and the city of Hamilton.