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Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome to Hobbiton


Now B and I have both, at some time in our lives, read the Lord of the Rings books. We were aware that they were filmed in New Zealand and were curious about the sets. We were fans of the movie but weren't fanatics. (at that point anyway)

But Mimirickets sent me all the information for the Hobbiton tours and then later on told me that I had to go see it. She is a smart woman so I adjusted our activities and booked a tour.


The driver Ben picked us up in Rotorua and drove us the 45 minutes to Matamata. Ben was a wonderful tour guide on the way to the Shire's Rest Cafe (how cute is that!) as he knew the history of every place we passed.

Ben was also an extra in the Lord of the Rings. He played an orc in the battle at Helm's Deep. I thought that was pretty darn cool.


Hobbiton resides on the Alexander farms. When they approached Mr. Alexander to ask him if they could tour the farm he sent them away because rugby was on TV.

Weeks later, after they had toured and approved the location, they told him they wanted to film Lord of the Rings there. His response was "Lord of the what?". The man had no idea what he was in for.


This is Eric our guide. He really liked us and he gave us the special treatment.

He would send the group to the next stop and then take my hand and say "Stay here, I'm going to do something special just for you". Eric was the one who took pictures of B and I throughout this post. Lovely man.


The pictures don't do this place justice. It really did feel like you were in a different world.

New Zealand is very aware of preserving their landscapes and most of the LOTR sets were completely dismantled. In this case as they were taking down Hobbiton there was a week long storm that came thru halting the process.


During that time locals kept calling the Alexanders to see if they were able to catch of glimpse of Hobbiton. And the Hobbiton Tours were created.

Actually we saw Craig Alexander drive by on his little 4 wd gator-type vehicle with his daughter and their dog. He waved as he passed us. Just another day on the farm, with Hobbiton, tourists, 300 cattle and 13,000 sheep.


What's that you see? OK all you Lord of the Rings nerds.... here is your sneak peak.

If you look closely at those boards you'll see they have sketched out hobbit holes and windows. They are starting to place around for the making (and re-making) of the set for the upcoming film The Hobbit. Filming starts in June and the book will be broken into 2 movies.


Do you recognize this tree? It was the great tree that Bilbo Baggins stood in front of for his birthday speech. It was right here that he slipped the ring on his finger.

Apparently he wasn't the only person slipping a ring on here. There have been quite a few proposals near both this tree and in Bag End (his house).


Peter Jackson had been a long time fan of the books and went to incredible lengths to recreate the exact vision portrayed in Tolkien's books.

Everything had to be authentic to the world that had been created.

Did I thank you Mimirickets? I completely and totally enjoyed this little tour. Oh and it was here that I got to feed the leetle lambs.


Peter Jackson brought in 2 amazing artists who had both illustrated the LOTR books and had them sketch out the town using the landscape on the Alexander farm.


This is the before and the after, or actually the after and the before. I think its incredible that this space held that little town.


For those of you who are unaware of the cult following these books and movies have... let me just say that its the reason some people travel to New Zealand.

They come from all over the world, they speak elvish, they come dressed in costume, they have the books memorized. Its a big deal.


BREAKING NEWS: Recession hits Hobbiton!

The hobbit houses were really only built to last 6 months. They've been trying to maintain them but this is what they would look like otherwise.

In any matter, they'll all be brought to life again for the new movie. Since I've now been converted to a full Lord of the Rings nerd I will willingly admit I would LOVE to go back to see it after the set has been resurrected.


Look we're hobbits!

Tolkien was a genius. The man not only created a world with its own detailed history, he created 16 different languages. There is a lot of detail in his work, so much detail it mkes my head spin.

If you are a fan and know some of my tidbits to be wrong... let me know so I can fix it!


This would be the view from one of Bilbo's windows.

With the exception of Bag End all of the hobbit holes are about 1 foot deep. You'll notice that in the movie you'll see hobbits opening the door and just stepping inside. The rest of the shot was done in a studio.


I got the biggest kick out of being inside. I could totally picture the little rooms around me. I could imagine sitting in them with the smell of food in the air. I could see the garden out front.

I want to live in the Shire. Really, I do. I totally want to live the life of a Hobbit, what with all the meals they have in a day.

Unless I have the option to live in Rivendell. That's a tough call.


"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."


This is the view from where Bilbo and Gandalf sat and smoked their pipes. Its a wonderfully peaceful and content moment in the movie.

The clearing down there is where the festivities of Bilbo's 111th birthday commenced.


Here is a perfect example of commitment to detail Peter Jackson made.

In the book there is a very large oak tree on top of Bag End. Unfortunately there was not a very large oak tree on this particular hill. So, they searched out a nearby oak tree and paid the farmer who owned it $11,000. They cut it into pieces, numbering as they went, transported it back here and reassembled it.


By then the tree was dead so they ordered 275,000 oak leaves from Taiwan and attached them to the limbs of the by one.

Jackson didn't want to create the computer generate the tree because it wouldn't cast a shadow and the leaves wouldn't flutter just right.

If you watch carefully you'll see the tree in the movie. For about 15 seconds.


As we walked Eric told us more and more amazing details about the movie. It took roughly $400 million to make and the movies in theatres alone have brought in over $4 billion.

There are many countries that place the movies in theaters every Christmas.

I have no idea what the numbers are when you take into consideration the DVD sales and LOTR products.


The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.


Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,


Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way


Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.


  1. Oh! I am totally jealous of your having been to the Shire! What fun!

  2. Oh my, Chris would be so love to be there! He is totally into Tolkien.

  3. Do you KNOW how jealous I am at the moment. You cannot possibly know. OHHHHHHHHHH I have been a Tolkien fan since I was in 6th grade and that was a LONG time ago. Cartoon Girl would also be green with jealousy if she saw those pictures.

  4. I totally forgot that Lord of the Rings was made in NZ! What an experience to pretend to be a Hobbit! What a glorious trip you had!

  5. I said it before and I'll say it again, just love looking at the pictures, absolutely gorgeous. I love the ones taken of looking out.

  6. Okay, that was AWESOME! I'm not a LoTR diehard or anything, but I still think it's incredible!

  7. I'm not really a LOTR fan.. never read the books and didn't really get into the movies.. but that place looks so neat! I'd love to visit!

  8. I never read the books but really enjoyed the movies... and began doing Smeegle impersonations to freak my husband out. (and I got incredibly good for some really ODD reason that I can't explain.) LOL

    Thanks for the fun tour!

  9. ZoMg!!!1one!!

    No seriously I'm squeeing like a 13 year old!

    That is so cool, I'm SO glad you went! And woohoo about The Hobbit getting made... I think perhaps a trip to San Fran is going to have to be planned around its release. You in? :)

    Stunning location; it's so nice to see that it wasn't all CGI and that such a beautiful place really does exist in the world.

  10. This is SO cool! I'd be depressed though that Aragon wasn't lurking around. haha (he's hot!)

  11. Jay & I LOVE LOTR so this was a fascinating post for us. How FUN!! I love that people get engaged under the Bilbo ring tree. That's so clever. What a neat place. So glad they're doing the Hobbit movie. Cool.

  12. PS The first picture is awesome!

  13. I have never read those books or seen the movies but I enjoyed your photos. LOL!

  14. Incredibly cool! So glad you did this!

  15. Im so glad you went there! I was going to mention it and completely forgot! Going on the tour was one of my favorite parts of New Zealand :)


    okay so I dont speak elvish but I would if I wasnt busy raising hobbits of my own you know? I looooove these movies and watch them a leetle too often.

  17. WOW! That is really so very cool. Neat. Amazing. I didn't read them until I was an adult, but they are truly wonderful stories (a truly wonderful book, depending on how you look at it). How fun that you were able to go see that.
    And you are right about his genius...I am captivated by people with minds like that.

  18. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

    If we were neighbors I would have already delivered you a S'more Coconut Cupcake :)

  19. oh wow... that place looks fun. Love the 1st picture :)

  20. I love the pictures of you guys peeping out of the Hobbit holes. :-) Looks like a really cool place to visit! Dwight Shrute from the Office would be sooo jealous.

  21. The male twin wants me to tell you that he wishes he could live in the Shire too, "that would be awesome". : )

  22. Y'all really had a wide range of activities on your honeymoon. My kids would love that - I'm going to show them this post after school.


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