Hidden deep in the hills of Matamata, New Zealand rests an iconic piece of film history, overrun by lush greenery and grazing sheep. Once a popular filming location for the beloved Hobbiton of the Lord of the Rings franchise, the hillsides sat abandoned and dilapidated, losing most of their fantastical luster. Several Hobbit houses remained, bleached white and left to rot into the hillsides with doorways and windows still looking outward onto the sprawling meadows—at least until around 2009 when the area was revived once more for filming during the Hobbit trilogy. This beloved location has had a turbulent history, rising to great fame, then left behind to decay, then was once again brought to life in the 2000s… so let’s take a look at the fascinating history of Hobbiton’s highs and lows.Back in 1998, 1,250 acres of farmland were scouted by Sir Peter Jackson’s team. With an abundance of sprawling fields and hills, lush green pasture, and captivating natural beauty to work with, this location was determined to be the ideal place to build The Shire.For nine months, the crew worked hard to transform these New Zealand hills into Hobbit Holes, and by the end of the construction period, thirty nine homes were built into the hillsides across twelve acres. Filming at the location lasted for three months, and once it was finished, parts of the set were demolished. The remaining seventeen homes were left behind, stripped of their recognizable features and abandoned to become shelters for the pasture sheep. The once-Shire would then remain mostly abandoned with scattered tours taking place until 2009.Tara Hunt, San Francisco, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0Then, when Sir Peter Jackson returned to commence filming for The Hobbit Trilogy, the hillsides were once again painted and transformed into Hobbiton. This new trilogy breathed life back into the area, and once filming had ended, a beautifully decorated set remained in tact for fans worldwide to visit and admire in person.For those interested in visiting Middle-earth in all its glory, Hobbiton Tours offers a detailed look at all their attractions on their website.For a price of $120 per adult and $60 per youth (children ten and under are free), guests can get the full Hobbit experience by taking a tour of the interior of a Hobbit Hole, decorated intricately as one would see it on the big screen. Guests will also learn how the film was made and the tools that were utilized to bring the magic of Middle-earth to life.Hobbiton ToursAlong with the beautifully decorated landscape, the property also features Bag End, which fans will remember as being the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the Green Dragon Inn where one can indulge in various beverages exclusive to Hobbiton, and other recognizable locations from the films.Lastly, there are fitting food options available for an additional price. A splurge on the evening banquet tour offers an exclusive tour of the set in the evening, a two-course feast in the Inn, and an after dark stroll through the set.If second breakfast is more your thing, consider the Second Breakfast Tour which includes a morning tour of the set and a breakfast feast with tea and coffee served in the Millhouse.For those with a love of the Lord of the Rings franchise or those with an interest in film history in general, a trip to the Shire is a great way to pay homage to one of the greatest fantasy series ever.