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Plans approved for Hobbiton visitor and event expansion

Plans approved for Hobbiton visitor and event expansion
January 20, 2020

Matamata-Piako District Council has approved New Zealand's third largest tourist attraction, Hobbiton, to operate under their new development concept plan which will allow 3,500 visitors per day and a million per year, up from 300,000.

Sir Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies and the subsequent opening of the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, saw Matamata, a town in the shadow of the Kaimai Range Mountains, on New Zealand’s North Island, become home to the vibrant visitor destination of "Hobbiton", attracting visitors from all over the world.

The purpose of the development concept plan was to provide a site specific planning framework to regulate the ongoing operation and growth of visitor numbers and tourism activities at Hobbiton. 

At the hearing, an independent commission heard and considered matters such as visitor accommodation and associated noise, traffic, visual and other effects.

The new plan sees the loosening of noise restrictions thereby creating potential for more events to be held at the tourist destination.

Locals were given a period to oppose Plan Change 50 after a hearings process, but no appeals were received.

Commenting on the approval, Hobbiton Chief Executive Russell Alexander advised "we are keen to keep working closely with the community here in the Matamata area to ensure we continue to make a positive contribution and we can carefully manage the impacts caused by the high number of visitors to our region.”

Matamata-Piako Mayor Jan Barnes added "I felt my community was listened to which was very important for them. Council didn't get all the things they wanted either, but I feel it was a compromise that works for everyone."

The plan change will include a cap of 3,500 visitors per day for tours, up to 12 events a year with each event allowing up to 500 people per event, and day-time noise extended to 10.30pm.

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