A slice of the real Middle-earth in Hamilton and Waikato  Region

July 11, 2012
A slice  of the real Middle-earth in Hamilton and Waikato  Region

Peter Jackson found Matamata in the Hamilton and Waikato as the setting for one of the first scenes of his epic adaptation of the JRR Tolkien classic, The Lord of the Rings. Visitors can follow Peter Jacksons footsteps and hear how movie magic was made on a guided tour through the Hobbiton Movie Set.

If the Shire is at the heart of Lord of the Rings, then the Hamilton Waikato region is at the heart of the Shire. When scouting around for settings for his epic three movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Kiwi director Peter Jackson found just what he was looking for in the green paddocks of the Waikato just outside Matamata.

The bucolic setting for the Shire, home of the Hobbits, including Bag End, was right there, and just waiting for his magical directors touch.

Visitor today can imagine Hobbits going about their business, as the set was rebuilt in 2011 for the filming of the story that started it all, The Hobbit.

A tour gives first-hand insight into filming and the way things looked when shooting was in full swing.It gets up close with over 17 Hobbit holes from the filming including Bag End. Another feature that has remained throughout is the long-established pine tree by the lake (pictured)that helped convince Peter Jackson to choose the location in his initial location scouting, and which became the party tree in the Middle-earth trilogy. It goes to show that Jacksons vision was not only realised by way of special effects.

Tour groups can now experience the permanent set recreated for filming of The Hobbit, directed by Sir Peter Jackson and get a sneak peek into the extraordinary detail required to create the magic of Middle-earth. For Lord of the Rings, that included buying and shifting an oak tree to overlook Bag End.

The tree was cut into pieces, then bolted together again and covered with thousands of artificial leaves; a meticulous approach that still applied for filming of The Hobbit.

The farm, which is owned by the Alexander family and has views of the Kaimai Ranges, is still a working sheep and beef farm, and along with the Lord of the Rings tour, visitors are also offered the New Zealand Sheep Farm Experience, including shearing displays.

There is also a caf and function centre on site called, naturally enough, The Shires Rest. Visitors can enjoy the Hobbit-like Kaimai Room or take in the views from the balcony. Its all just a Hobbits hop, skip and jump well, a short drive from the town of Matamata.

Authentic farm stays can also be organised by the team at Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours if visitors are keen to observe or participate in daily farm life experiences.

The world of the Hobbits
The world of the Hobbits

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