a.k.a. The Shire!! For all those The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans – you will absolutely love this shore excursion when stopping in Tauranga! So, if you read my post last week, you will remember that I said there are 2 things that I highly recommend to do in Tauranga. Mount Maunganui was one, and Hobbiton is the second :). I’m going to try and give fun facts and info about Hobbiton that we learnt on the tour:
– When this farm was chosen to build The Shire for the movies, it was a well-kept secret for a long time, even nosy neighbors didn’t have a clue
– There was a 3mile no-flying zone around the site, and your pilot license and cameras were taken if you were caught
– The owner of the farm gave permission to build the set for The Lord of the Rings, but it was a temporary set, and was broken down after the movies were done. When they wanted to do it again for The Hobbit, he agreed but on the condition that they build it to last for 50 years (he was obviously thinking of his early retirement)
– The military helped to make the necessary roads to the set
– 300 hobbits were used for the making of the movies, of which 7 were locals
– The set (Hobbiton) is only the ‘outsides’ of the hobbit houses and the cute gardens, the shots ‘inside’ the hobbit houses were done in a studio in Wellington
– There is a whole reserved section with extra hobbit houses never used, but made ‘in case’ the director wanted something else
– There are different sized hobbit houses on the set to get the proportion right for when a hobbit enters/exits, and when Gandalf enters/exits the door… so they used 90% sized houses for the hobbits, and 60% sized houses (or doors really) for Gandalf
– Every morning before filming started, fire crackers were used to scare away the birds, as these birds are not consistent with the birds of ‘middle earth’ as described in the books
– All frogs had to be removed from the ponds because the noise was too loud when filming
– The trees on the set are actually pear and plum trees, but had to be stripped down before filming, and fake leaves and fruits were attached to make it consistent with the book’s description of The Shire
– On the set there are small walkways in the grass from the front doors of the houses to the washing lines, between houses etc… there were people who had to walk from front door to washing line for 2 weeks, to make it look authentic.
– The most famous tree in New Zealand is the fake tree built on top of Bilbo Baggins’ house! 2 days before filming, the director decided that the color of the leaves were not quite right because it had bleached in the sun, so every single leave had to be repainted!
– The sunset scene in The Lord of the Rings, was actually a sunrise
– The Green Dragon was really burnt down for The Lord of the Rings, and then rebuilt for The Hobbit.
Now, I know there were a lot more, but this is about what I can remember for now. Truly an amazing experience! Even if you are not a big fan, you will still definitely enjoy the scenery. And, included in the tour, is a beer or cider in the Green Dragon before heading back :). I hope you get a good feel for the place when looking at the photos – the detail is just unbelievable!