If you are going to visit NZ, this is definitely one of the must-sees, even if you are not a Lord of the Rings-fan. It's a beautiful, beautiful area, and the story behind how they built this whole set up not just once, but twice, is rather amazing. Do make sure you book in for your visit in advance, as it is an extremely popular place.
I apologize in advance for the photo bomb, but it is such a photogenic place! Even though you might think we were all alone there during our tour judging from my photos, that's far from the truth. I guess I just got my angles right when taking my pictures!
Every 30 minutes a bus load of tourists would leave the Visitors Center to go out on set, and all over in the Shire area there was different groups walking about. The tour guides kept a strict schedule for the different photo stops etc.
On the way to and from the set itself, we were shown a few movie clips in the bus, of some of the scenes that were filmed here.
We were then walked around the set together with our guide, a girl from Scotland. She told us endless facts and stories from the filming.
This farm where the set is built up, was discovered by Peter Jackson in 1998. The first construction started in 1999, with the help of the NZ army who built a road into the site and undertook the initial development. Back then, 39 temporary Hobbit Holes were created and the Mill and the bridge were built out of scaffolding and polystyrene. All of these constructions were then removed after filming, according to the contract that had been made with the Alexander family that owned the farm.
Nathan and I visited here in 2005, and could then see what was left from that first filming. I remember that visit as really interesting too, but it was nothing there compared to what you can come and see today. Below, the frog pond and the apple orchards:
The second time the team came to film, for The Hobbit Trilogy, it was decided to rebuild all the structures out of permanent materials. Building took two years, 2009-2011, and by then 44 Hobbit Holes were rebuilt, together with the Green Dragon Pub, the Mill, the bridge and the famous Party Tree. The set is today maintained to keep the magic of The Shire alive, and the attention to detail is amazing around the set. Here below for example, you can see part of the vegetable garden:
The big tree is the Party Tree, situated in the Party Field. In the distance across the lake you can see the Green Dragon Pub:
Four little happy Hobbits!
This is the Hobbit Hole where Bilbo lived, Bag End, and the tree on top of it is the only artificial tree on the set. It's an oak that was cut down and transported in, and artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired onto the tree.
Here is Sam's house:
Linnea having a chat with our tour guide Heather, about to cross the famous double arched bridge taking us to the pub:
Inside the Green Dragon Pub. We got treated to special Hobbit beer, a pale ale and the kids got ginger beer, all handcrafted and exclusive to Hobbiton.
It was so beautiful down there by the lake, with the views of the mill, and the jetty:
What a great day we had!
Just for comparison, I found a few photos from our last visit here in 2005! Quite different!