"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Shire

Here's the van that picked us up at our hotel, it was an approximate 1.25 hour drive from Rotorua (where we were staying) to the Anderson farm (which is just outside of Matamata). 

I have so many pictures of Hobbiton, that I've decided it would be best to first show you the most memorable scenes from the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring today.

According to our guide, this lane was in one of the very first opening scenes.

Frodo: "You're late."
Gandalf: "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. 
He arrives precisely when he means to."

Frodo then jumps into Gandalf's cart. 

They cross this bridge, where banners are being hung in a field for Bilbo's 111th birthday party.

This road leads to Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins. The tree at the very top of the hill (just to the right of the chimney) is artificial. Made of aluminum and latex, it's 10,000 leaves are plastic and were individually hand-wired in place. If our guide hadn't pointed this out, we would never have known - it looks incredibly realistic.

The home of Bilbo Baggins... my life is complete, haha!

You will recall this is the stoop where Gandalf stands when he raps on Bilbo's door with his walking staff. There are just over 40 hobbit homes in Hobbiton! I was very surprised how big it was - I'd expected perhaps a dozen at best. 


As per the contract with New Line Cinema, a full-time staff of gardeners are employed to maintain a very specific 'look' 365 days of the year, right down to the height of each shrub, plant and flower. That way, whenever the studio needs to resume filming, there are no inconsistencies. To give the 'town' a true lived-in feel, the landscaping and plantings were in place 2-3 years prior to filming. In order to avoid detection, the gardeners are known for quickly hiding in the homes as tour groups pass by. 

The homes are unfinished inside. All interior scenes were shot in a studio in Wellington, NZ. However, for photo ops, Bilbo's is panelled the first few feet in and the door is kept open.


The bench Gandalf and Bilbo sat on while blowing smoke rings.

Sam's house. You may remember the moment at the end of the Return of the King, when Rosie and Sam come out of their home with their children. Each of the actors' children in real life were utilized for this scene.

All the wood used to build Hobbiton was new, but aged with a special vinegar solution.

Each and every prop in Hobbiton, be it leaded windows, hardware on the gates and doors, or a simple basket, was handmade by local artists in New Zealand. 

This is what Gandalf and Bilbo would have seen from their bench. The Party Tree and grassy knoll where the party was held, are in the foreground.

The Party Tree

Me and the Party Tree - it's so much bigger in real life - it's gynormous!

Bilbo's birthday party was held on this small field (the Party Tree is to our left). The fireworks in the movie were all real, the only CGI used was for the 'dragon.'

That's all for today! I hope you enjoyed the tour. A few more adorable homes and Pickles the cat tomorrow.

28 comments:

  1. Hello Jane,
    Welcome back to blogland.
    You are looking lovely in the photos.
    Massive place there in NZ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I really missed being part of 'blogland'!

      Delete
  2. You know I've never seen these movies Jane, but after seeing your photos I might have to now! Your enthusiasm really is infectious. They obviously went to a LOT of effort to set the scene and it looks beautiful.Glad you're back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sulky, I must say I'm shocked! A pop-culture affectionado like yourself needs to stay informed. How ever did you miss all the hub-bub that surrounded these movies? Too busy drooling over Tom I suspect, lol!!

      Delete
  3. Wow, amazing! I can just imagine you struggling to breathe as you must have been hyperventilating from too much excitement...LOL... Believe it or not, I’ve never seen these films (just like I’ve never seen the Blues Brothers that Kay wrote about on her blog). Sad, isn’t it? I'm going to have to make an effort now (for both). Hobbiton looks beautiful. What a quaint little area. Wouldn't you love to have one of those little homes? They're adorable. I am looking forward to more photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, You are another person that I am totally surprised hasn't seen these movies. Do yourself a favour and rent the first one (The Fellowship of the Ring) this weekend - you won't be disappointed, I promise :) I would die to live in one of these homes - I have almost convinced JJ Hubby to modify the trim on my garden shed door, so that it appears round when the doors are shut. I'm planning to paint the door a rich moss green.

      Delete
  4. It is quite incredible the detail that goes into film sets, no wonder we get caught up in the magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracey, I totally agree. I'd also love to see the Harry Potter World in Florida.

      Delete
  5. How wonderful and magickal! I'd love to see Hobbiton myself some day. Thanks so much for sharing these terrific photos and explanations!

    P.S. I have seen the LOTR trilogy but I'm thinking perhaps I should watch it again now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debra, Thanks, I have to thank JJ Hubby for most of the explanations - I was too busy taking pictures and dragging my jaw along the ground to absorb what our tour guide was saying, haha! I'm glad to hear that you've seen the movies... I was beginning to get worried what with Sulky and Martha fessing up! I watched The Fellowship on the plane coming back :)

      Delete
  6. Alright, now I need to see these movies...cause I love love love these pictures, so full of fantasy! And that tree is amazing...like you:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh, Thanks, but you STILL get a thousand lashes with a wet noodle!! You need to watch these - at least give the first one (The Fellowship of The Ring) a try. Let me know what you think :)

      Delete
  7. Truly amazing!! I also appreciate all the added information--like the fact that a team of gardeners maintain Hobbiton to specific standards!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dianne, I will admit that we can all thank JJ Hubby for most of the added information - I wasn't absorbing much at the time, haha!! I did however manage to catch the gardeners trivia at the time and was impressed. What a great job.

      Delete
  8. Hi Jane, glad you're back! You are so lucky, what a beautiful trip! Now I want to watch the movies all over again, after already watching I don't know how many times! Your pictures are gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dorothy, thanks :) I know what you mean - this has renewed my interest as well and I plan on doing a marathon weekend watching very soon.

      Delete
  9. Welcome back Jane! Thanks for this amazing tour! Loved the book (read many years ago) and the movie. What a lovely place to visit, the hobbit homes are so cute! Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Diane, It was a dream trip and visiting Hobbiton was definitely the cherry on top :)

      Delete
  10. OMG...it is almost unbelievable!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patty, It was and I'm still in shock, lol!!

      Delete
  11. What an amazing place. I'm afraid i never did see the movie(s?) however I did read the books decades ago so I at least know the story. However I can certainly understand the appeal of such a unique and 'hidtorica'site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Francie, they did a fabulous job on the movies. I was worried they'd spoil the story, but it was exactly as I'd imagined. I challenge you to rent the first one and then see if you can resist the other two... ;)

      Delete
  12. Jane, these pictures are wonderful. Its just like a fairyland! A tremendous amount of work went into it and keeping it maintained is no small feat I'm sure.

    You look like your in your glory going around hobbiton. We sure want to hear much more about your trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lorene, Thank you - it seems like you can't take a bad picture in Hobbiton - it's too magical of a place! We were there mid-late afternoon on a sunny day, so it was a perfect photo-op. I was in my glory - I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for days.

      Delete
  13. So beautiful, so happy you got there. Crossed off the bucket list, Now your eyes have seen the beauty and absorbed the wonder of such inspiring films. I think this trip probably planted a little travel seed in your heart of hearts and you know what seeds do-grow. Better get on planning your next there and back again <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Caro-Cat :) You may be correct about the travel seed being planted, now I just need it to rain money!!!

      Delete
  14. This is so fun. I'd love to go to NZ to see it. (I have to admit to not being surprised by the detail or size, however, but I live in H'wood, land of extremes.)

    I love, love, love these pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The party true is really amaing. I would love to have something like that in my backyard.

    ReplyDelete