Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day 3: A Hobbit Village

Thursday, March 12

We checked out of our fancy hotel in Auckland and made our way to Hobbiton, Middle Earth (aka Matamata, New Zealand).   
What?   You didn't know this place was real?  

Well, it is, and it's as charming and beautiful as it looks!

The stunning location  was discovered by a location scout in a helicopter and somehow the film producers talked the owners of the working sheep farm into giving up a portion of their bucolic little paradise to build a hobbit village.    The knolls, the pond, and the  rustic trees provided a perfect backdrop for the hobbit homes and it's not hard to see why Peter Jackson (producer of LOTR and Hobbit trilogies) ultimately picked this location over other potential sites.    

The hobbit houses were made in 60-100% scale, so that people could be made to look taller or shorter based on which size of house they were standing next to.   For instance Gandalf would be filmed next to a 60% scale house, so it would look like he was towering over it.   Hobbits and dwarves were filmed next to the 90-100% scale houses to make it look like it was just the right size for them.  Interestingly all the outdoor shots were done on-site there in Hobbiton, but all of the indoor filming of hobbit houses was done in the studio in Wellington.

This hobbit house was  built to 60% scale…making us look like giants! 

This house, however, was at 90% scale, which made Cami look just about the perfect hobbit size!  

For the Lord of the Rings movies, the hobbit village was created using temporary  materials, which meant that they didn't last long past the filming.  After the smashing success of the LOTR movies, they decided that for the Hobbit series,  they would use materials which could potentially last about 50-years.   The farm owners and Peter Jackson now have a lucrative partnership going that keeps this location hopping with tourists from all over the world.

Even if you weren't a huge fan, it's not hard to be enchanted by Peter Jackson's attention to detail in the creation of the individual hobbit homes.   There are curtains and knickknacks in the windows…

flowers and gardens blooming…

…and props in the yard to show what the livelihood of the hobbit was that "lived" in that house...
Outside a beekeeper hobbit's home
They even artificially aged everything to make it look even more realistic.   The moss on the fence is actually a mixture of paint, glue, and sawdust...

We were interested to learn that all hobbit extras used in the films were hired from the surrounding community, and had to be 5'4" or under, with naturally curly hair, and couldn't have too straight of teeth.  Ellie was tickled to know that she would have qualified on 2/3 of the stipulations.  :)   

All in all, even though the tour was canned and touristy, it was still completely delightful to see the charming scenes from a well-loved movie come to life.   Ellie enjoyed trying on hobbit clothing at  Green Dragon Inn and everyone was happy to have the opportunity to "meet" Gandalf the Gray!

To me, this visit to Hobbiton encapsulated a lot of what New Zealand is all about…beauty, ingenuity, and charm.   It's one of the locations that we visited on our trip, that I would actually go back and happily visit again someday.   If nothing else, just to take in the loveliness of the surroundings! 

 After that, we drove an hour or so  to our new place of habitation ( a house on Lake Tarawera) and Glen and the girls prepared  coconut crusted mahimahi for dinner.   Glen, Adam, and Spence had caught the mahimahi just the day before and it was surprisingly delicious, especially considering we rarely eat seafood because of Glen's allergy to a lot of it!

The new house was beautifully situated overlooking the stunning Lake Tarawera and we liked having the room to spread out.   The only couple of things that left a little to be desired, was the fact that  the wifi only worked in a 5-foot radius around the router and the water pump wasn't working at all for the first 12-hours we were there, which meant we had no water to flush toilets, to brush teeth, to drink, or to wash dishes.   It was a long, thirsty first night there, but thankfully it was fixed first thing in the morning and it proved to be a great homebase for the 2nd leg of our New Zealand adventures.

Stay tuned for more!   


annalisa said...

I love that first picture of Hobbiton!

It looks like a really cool place! Were there other tourists there while you were there?

Charlene said...

That looks awesome! What a fun experience!! Put that down for my bucket list!

Pulitzer Mama said...

This is excellent and wonderful in so many ways. . and I just love that you used the word bucolic. I am so envious and thrilled that you got to visit such a place!

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