Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Pilgrimage to Middle-Earth; Ann Rickard Travels to New Zealand for a Hobbit Experience

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Pilgrimage to Middle-Earth; Ann Rickard Travels to New Zealand for a Hobbit Experience

Article excerpt

Lights, camera...

The New Zealand Army built 1.5km of road into the site.

Oak tree overlooking Bag End was cut down and brought in from near Matamata. Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (26 tonne).

Artificial leaves were imported from Taiwan and individually wired onto the dead tree.

Generators were brought in to run the base camp and the film equipment.

Meals were prepared for up to 400 people per day during construction.

The 37 hobbit holes were created with untreated timber, ply, and polystyrene, glued and painted.

The Alexander family still run the property as a sheep farm.

More on hobbitontours.com

IF Hollywood came knocking on your door with an offer to use your property as a backdrop for a mega-movie would you turn them away?

That's exactly what the Alexander men did. These are, after all, New Zealand country lads. Sheep farmers no less.

There they were watching the rugby and enjoying a well-deserved break from tending their flock, when Hollywood arrived at the door in the form of Peter Jackson's people from New Line Cinema. They'd spotted the lush Alexander farm during an aerial search for a suitable place to film The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Alexander men listened to Jackson's people and then politely asked them to leave and come back later when the rugby had finished.

Fortunately Jackson's people understood a Kiwi's passion for rugby and willingly came back later and a deal was brokered.

The luxuriant undulating countryside near the Waikato town of Matamata in the North Island a a property suitably lacking power lines, roads and other pesky modern-day clutter a was as close as it could get to resembling Tolkien's vision of Middle-earth.

But the real deal clincher was the imposing pine tree perfectly placed in front of the lake on the Alexanders' 500 hectare property which would become the aparty treea where the hobbits danced 'til they dropped.

This was in 1998. Then the New Zealand army marched in to assist with set construction and over nine months 400 people toiled to complete the hobbit movie set. …

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