When director Peter Jackson spotted the Alexander Farm during an aerial search of the North Island for the best possible locations to film The Lord of The Rings film trilogy, he immediately thought it was perfect for Hobbiton, the central village of the movies’ Hobbit civilization. Nevertheless, a lot of work was still needed to be completed before it was up to the director’s high standards.
Site construction started in March 1999, and filming commenced in December of that year, continuing for three months. Below is a summary of the major components that were needed to create the Hobbiton Movie Set:
- The New Zealand Army was contracted to build 1.5 km of road into the site and the initial set development. They brought diggers, bulldozers, loaders, trucks, rollers, graders and other heavy machinery to the site.
- Barberry hedges and trees were brought in and gardens were nurtured throughout winter.
- Thirty-seven hobbit holes were created with untreated timber, ply and polystyrene.
- The Mill and double arch bridge were built out of scaffolding, ply and polystyrene, then glued and painted.
- Thatch on the pub and mill roofs was cut from rushes around the Alexander farm.
- The oak tree overlooking Bag End was cut down and brought in from near Matamata. Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (weighing 26 tonne).
- Artificial leaves were imported from Taiwan and individually wired onto the dead tree.
- Generators were brought in to run the base camp and filming equipment. Logistics of power, water and sewerage all had to be considered.
- Catering was organised for up to 400 people a day, with three 2-course meals required for all of the cast and crew.
The fictional Hobbit village is situated on a working sheep and beef farm, where it is advertised that guests can learn to shear sheep, and perform other agricultural duties before satisfying a well earned appetite at the on site Shires Rest cafe, which features fresh regional cuisine and provides unparalleled views of the Kaimai mountain ranges.
And at reasonable rates starting at two hundred New Zealand dollars a day for a tour and an overnight stay, this place is a deal, especially if you’re into the movie series. You can even buy a miniature version of the Bag End tree from the films, made especially for visitors to the site. Of course, even if you haven’t seen the films, like me, you can just take a deep breath and appreciate the surrounding landscape that is considered to be among the most lush and beautiful in the world.