The Hobbiton in Matamata
Another item in my travel agenda to New Zealand is to visit the rolling hills of The Shire where the home of Bilbo Baggins and other hobbits lie.
Films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, even The Chronicles of Narnia have placed New Zealand in the map. It has now been dubbed as ‘Middle-earth’—the imaginary world created by author J.R.R. Tolkien in his literary works. The director Peter Jackson, being a native in NZ, insisted on shooting the entire trilogy in New Zealand, making this the Middle-earth, to take advantage of the country’s spectacular scenery and the special effects production facilities available in the country.
We booked in advance The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour online. Come New Year’s day, we drove to Matamata where a bus took us to the site is located in The Alexander Farm. This was discovered by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema during an aerial search for suitable film sites for the LOTR series. It is the perfect setting for the movies with its incredible views and the rolling countryside. Check these out…
This is Bilbo Baggin’s hobbithole, the spot where he first met Gandalf and blew smoke rings.
Bilbo’s hobbithole. One cannot go inside the hobbitholes though. The interior shots in the films were made in a studio.
At the Party Tree, where Bilbo Baggins celebrated his magnificent birthday, and a gathering place for merriment, eating, and storytelling.
At the Old Mill.
The movie set tour provides a complimentary beer in the Green Dragon Inn. The bar serves brewed ales, cider and non alcoholic ginger beer, which is not served anywhere else.
At the Green Dragon, a local meeting place to drink, enjoy a meal for the residents of Hobbiton. The inn also makes an appearance in The Hobbit.
Overlooking Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo Baggin’s home).
How to photograph a hobbit. ;)
Weta Cave in Wellington
On a different day, we came to see the Weta Workshop—a conceptual design and manufacturing facility which services the world’s film entertainment and creative industries. The Weta Cave is in Miramar, Wellington, which has a mini-museum, displaying some of the characters, props, and displays from the movies made by the production house. It also has a screening on the interviews with the Weta co-founders and behind-the-scenes look at how their films and characters were brought to life. Some of the past movies they’ve done are Avatar, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Adventures of Tintin, District 9, King Kong, The Chronicles Of Narnia. There are also a wide range of merchandise such as limited edition sculptures, clothing, jewelry, books, DVDs, and other collector items. The multi-million dollar studios, sound stages, and pre- and post-production facilities are based here that’s why it’s also called “Wellywood.”
Getting inside is FREE! :) No wonder New Zealand is becoming the world’s “coolest little film capital.”
Some swords prop replicas from the movies.
The contract of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.
The One Ring to Rule Them All. (Now for sale! :P)
Oh! Meet William, Tom, and Bert (left to right below)–the trolls in The Hobbit, currently displayed at the Te Papa Museum: