Friday, January 30, 2015

New Zealand's Hobbiton again on film as famed director continues Tolkien odyssey

We stopped for a spot of ale, after
touring Hobbit homes. Where else,
but at The Green Dragon?
A trek through Hobbiton in New Zealand's lovely South Island attracted our travelers to visit the Hobbit holes and homes.


Visitors from around the world come to be Hobbits for a day.

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WHEN SIR PETER Jackson found his ideal setting for "The Hobbit" movies, he was anxious to get moving.  The year was 1998 and he'd coaxed the Alexander family in the south of New Zealand's lovely north island into sharing their spectacular 1,250 acre sheep and beef ranch with show business. His lure to the ranch couple:  a long, paid vacation to anywhere!

 Just clear out and let him do his thing!
Jackson was so smitten with the scenery that he canceled other land deals, made the Alexanders that offer (which they couldn't refuse) and set to building his spectacular sets in New Zealand's verdant south forests.
BY 1999, earth moving machinery began constructing a road into the site and creating 39 Hobbit holes and homes, a double-arch bridge, elaborate gardens and footpaths, The Green Dragon pub and fabled Mill.
A stunning oak tree overlooking Bag End was cut down and transported from nearby Matamata. Authentic looking leaves were crafted in Taiwan, flown in and individually wired onto the spectacular tree. Few people can tell the difference.
This venerable oak tree, top right, is really
an oak brought in from nearby Matamata with
hand-painted fake leaves. No one notices.
"The set is maintained to keep the magic of the Shire alive," our guide said. At its peak during filming, 400 people were on site, including Jackson, actors Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Sam), Ian Holm (Bilbo) and Sir Ian McKellen, who played the wise wizard Gandalf.  "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" opened in theaters worldwide just days before Christmas last.
When director Jackson began filming 17 years ago, dispatching the Alexanders to a glorious months-long all expenses paid trip, he sequestered himself on the set,
Keller emerges from tea and crumpets in a Hobbit home.
appropriated their home for his quarters and built a movie studio for viewing dailies.
THE BUCOLIC film setting for the famed Shire, home of the Hobbits, has thus been immortalized and Jackson was knighted for his Oscar winning film work. Under his artistic direction, "The Hobbit" became a movie series of three epic fantasy adventure films based on the 1937 J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
The property-owning family is happy with the results: their land looks good and people don't mind the hour-plus drive from the nearest big city,Wellington. The farm is still operational and one of the Alexander sons runs the profitable tourist destination of Hobbiton, which has entertained thousands of Hobbit-loving visitors since opening its doors to tourists.

An uncle and one of his nephews greet visitors to a Maori village near Napier.
COMING UP:  The Maori people of New Zealand have their own magic -- in music, stories, weapons, games, dance, food (yes, cannibalism at one time) and their intricate tattoos.  Come with us to two Maori villages, where Cookie gets a tat and we sing, play games and touch noses and foreheads with our hosts, young Maori school children. Explore, learn, live and visit us Wednesdays and weekends at:

And watch for a new blog:
www.lilianslastdance,  about our new ebook, soon to be a paperback. We'll let you know book tour dates, signings and more!

1 comment:

  1. Aussie Traveler in Kiwi CountryFebruary 2, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    These beautiful photos of "Hobbiton" caught my eye while looking for Tolkien history. I am researching for our upcoming visit to Hobbiton, which I've long wanted to see. Thank you for the encouragement.