Matamata is a town in the Waikato Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is located near the base of the Kaimai Ranges, and is a thriving farming area known for Thoroughbred horse breeding and training pursuits. It is part of the Matamata-Piako District, which takes in the surrounding rural areas as well as Morrinsville and Te Aroha. State Highway 27 and the Kinleith Branch railway run through the town. The town has a population of 7,840 as of June 2017. A nearby farm was the location for the Hobbiton Movie Set in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. The New Zealand government decided to leave the Hobbit holes built on location as tourist attractions, since they were designed to blend seamlessly into the environment. During the interim period filming The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey they had no furniture or props, but could be entered with vistas of the farm viewed from inside them. A "Welcome to Hobbiton" sign has been placed on the main road. In 2011 parts of Hobbiton began to close in preparation for the three new movies based on the first Tolkien novel, The Hobbit.
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