Matamata was just one of those pleasant, horsey country towns you drove through until Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy The Lord of the Rings put it on the map. During filming, 300 locals got work as extras (hairy feet weren’t a prerequisite).
Following the subsequent filming of The Hobbit, the town has now ardently embraced its Middle Earth credentials, including a spooky statue of Gollum, and given the local information centre an appropriate extreme makeover.
Most tourists who come to Matamata are dedicated Hobbit-botherers. For everyone else there’s a great cafe, avenues of mature trees and undulating green hills.