Located in the Waikato region, Matamata is famous for the Hobbiton Movie Set, but beyond hobbit holes and wizarding fun there are a host of great things to do and see in this Kiwi town.
Those who enjoy a good hike can head out into the surrounding Kaimai Ranges to walk and cycle on routes that crisscross the mountainous landscape. Or, immerse yourself in the rural way of life and stay on a local farm.
Hobbiton Movie Set
One of the biggest attractions in New Zealand, the Hobbiton Movie Set is a real-life recreation of the Shire from Middle Earth. This 12-acre site is located on a sheep farm near Matamata and it's only accessible by guided tour.
This unique filming location was built for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and it's now one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand. The Alexander family who owns the farm started running tours in 2002 and this has become a successful tourism business.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is a truly magical place to be in, with incredible detail that brought it to life on screen. Visitors see 44 Hobbit holes, gardens, wandering pathways, The Party Tree and lakes that all come together to create a Middle-earth fantasy world.
Take a two-hour walking tour to immerse yourself in the real-world landscape of Middle-earth. Afterward, sip a refreshing drink at The Green Dragon Inn.
The highest waterfall on the North Island is the 153m Wairere Falls, a must-see on any New Zealand trip. Its vista from the top is absolutely worth the steep climb up.
The walk takes about 45 minutes to reach the lower falls lookout, and then another hour-and-a-half to get to the top of the falls. The track winds through native bush and crosses the Wairere Stream several times via bridges, affording lovely views of little cascades along the way.
The track passes through groves of nikau, puriri and kohekohe trees. During the hike, you’ll pass by moss-covered rocks, tree roots and other natural features that make this one of the most scenic walks in New Zealand.
The Waikato town of Matamata is well known for its Lord of the Rings movie sets, but it also has plenty more to offer – including fantastic hikes, fascinating historical sites, delectable treats and more. The area is also a great place to stay and explore by bike, with the Hauraki Rail Trail providing an easy way to get around.
One of the best ways to learn about Matamata’s rich history is to visit the Firth Tower Museum. The site features historic buildings, vibrant gardens and displays.
A short walk from the centre of Matamata, the tower and 13 surrounding structures are now home to exhibitions. Visitors can wander through the colourful gardens or pay a small fee to tour the buildings.
This tower was built by Josiah Clifton Firth in 1882 to provide a lookout over the countryside. It is now the museum’s centrepiece and a valuable resource for those interested in learning about the area’s pioneering history.
Matamata Heritage Trail
Whether you’re into hobbits or not, Matamata is an excellent place to visit. This Kiwi town has awesome walks, historic sites, tasty treats and more besides.
- The 5.3km Matamata Heritage Trail meanders through the town’s parks, gardens and historical sites. It’s a fun way to explore the city and get a feel for the area.
- Another way to enjoy Matamata is to hike the highest waterfall in the North Island, Wairere Falls. It falls from a height of 153 metres and creates a spectacular view over the Waikato Plains.
- There’s also the Firth Tower, a picturesque tower built in 1882 with 13 surrounding buildings full of exhibitions. You can wander the colourful gardens for free or pay a small fee to see the building.