Many of you know I just returned this Thursday from a 17 day trip to Australia and New Zealand. Fair warning: I am sure I will be talking about this trip and posting pictures for weeks to come.
Today, for Saturday Snapshot, I thought it would be fun to share with you my husband and my trip to Middle Earth, the bookish tour we were able to take part in New Zealand…. yes,
I absolutely would not be me if I did not take the opportunity to get my geek on. We were not the only ones… 1,500 people a day, seven days a week, on average visit this site. At $75 a person… that’s a lot of “cha-ching”.
We were lucky enough to have out tour guide be a nephew of the owners of the property the Hobbiton movie set and tour is on. The story of how this came to be the permanent movie and tour set is an interesting one.
When Director Peter Jackson was flying over New Zealand looking for a potential spot to shoot parts of the film, The Hobbit, he could not believe his luck when he seen a piece of property that had the makings of covering the Hobbit Village. The property is owned by a family named The Alexander’s and when Peter Jackson came knocking on their door with their idea they pretty much told him they were busy and shut the door. Peter Jackson showed up the next day with more people and more money…. and so it began.
The project was a BIG secret. Peter Jackson even had the air space above the property as a “no fly zone” to keep what was happening under wraps. The New Zealand Army brought the set up to the property in army trucks and if people asked questions, they were told it was exercises for the NZ Army.
Note: During filming two pilots did fly over the set. They were tracked down, made to give up any cameras, film, and memory cards they had that could carry pictures of the top-secret set. These pilots also lost their licenses to fly in New Zealand forever. It was that serious.
Initially the set was to be built, filmed, and then tore down restoring the land to its natural state. When it came time to tear it down, New Zealand was experiencing extreme weather conditions and the project was delayed by three weeks. During this time a few of the people on their tear down team went into town to a pub and proceeded to drink a little too much ( true story!). While in this pub they said a little too much about the filming of the movie on the property. Neighbors went nuts wanting to see the set, demanding to see the property and initially it was opened up a tour only for those who lived around the area.
Then, a different idea came to be. With the potential of future movies being made, the set was rebuilt using sturdier materials and this time built as a permanent set. The windows to the hobbit houses were real glass heated to give the wavy “aged” look they have. Thatched roofs were built on some, the hobbit homes were painted and then sprayed with vinegar purchased at the local stores to give it the worn and aged look.
As seen above in the movie clip, Al and I walked on the bridge to the Hobbit Village where we had a snack along with special made beverages made only for the Hobbiton Village. I tried the cider beer and Al tried an Ale, both were very good.
This was a great tour! If you are ever in Matamata New Zealand I highly recommend you experience this village. I can only imagine how blown away JR Tolkien would be.
Thanks for visiting Hobbiton with me! 🙂 Here is a link to the tours and more information.