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Code Blue – Hobbiton – Film Location for Hobbit and Lord of the Rings April 30, 2017

Posted by steveandjudy in Code Blue 2012.
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Bridge and Mill* — The first bridge was made of polystyrene foam,
plywood, and scaffolding the second was more permanent materials of there
own bricks so they could make them lighter.

To Code Blue Folks – 30 April 2017

“HOBBITON” From Auckland we went to a holiday park in Cambridge and stayed the 16th of March. This is near Hobbiton. We had tickets the next day on the 17th (Saint Patrick’s Day) for 12:10pm. This is the 1250 acre Alexander sheep farm that was picked by Peter Jackson and crew for The Hobbit and also for Lord of the Rings trilogies near the town of Matamata. The owners of the ranch provide tours of the movie sets that are in the area. 44 Hobbit homes, mill and Green Dragon pub are offered up in this $79 NZD tour. A bus picks you up and takes you to the area. At the end you get a drink at the Green Dragon pub. A guide walks you thru the area and offers up
bits of movie lore.

The house as you head to the movie set is where Craig, the eldest of the
Alexander brothers lives. Craig runs the farming operation and his younger
brother Russell runs the tourism business. As we come around the corner
you can get an appreciation of why Peter Jackson chose the location, it was
the rolling green hills and the Kaimai ranges in the background that first
attracted him to the area. The location scout first started looking in the
Waikato region as it was known for its lush green pastures. The
Alexander’s spotted him on the hill with binoculars one day but didn’t
think too much of it. After first spotting the property they hired a plane
and flew over which is when they saw the tree and the lake.

One Saturday afternoon Ian Alexander had a knock on his door. He remembers
it was a Saturday because at the time Ian had just sat down to watch a game
of rugby. The location scout introduced himself and asked if he could look
around the farm, Ian said “Yeah go to it as long as you shut the gates so
the sheep don’t get mixed up”. Mr. Alexander then sat back down and
watched the second half of his rugby game; just as well it was half time
when he knocked on the door!

They didn’t think too much of it then but about six weeks later the
location scout rang again and said he wanted to bring a group of people
with him including Peter Jackson, Dan Hennah the art director, and Allan
Lee and John Howe the conceptual artists and representatives from New Line
Cinemas in Los Angeles. They spent the day here walking around the farm,
taking photos and drawing concept pictures. At the end of the day the
producer called in and asked for a meeting the next day. The Alexander’s
agreed but no details were discussed until they had all signed
confidentiality agreements. They were then told they were wanting to film
Lord of the Rings, Ian Alexander’s response was, “Lord of the what”? The
Alexander’s are certainly well aware of them now! The Alexander’s and the
film company worked well together and had many discussions about how it
would all work. The contract was signed in March 1999 and the next day the
New Zealand Army arrived in a convoy of vehicles including trucks,
bulldozers, graders, rollers etc. As they came up from the center of the
North Island one of the neighbors ended up in the middle of their convoy
and saw them all pull into the Alexanders farm. The Alexanders were then
fielding phone calls from neighbors wanting to know what was going on. Their
response was they were performing an exercise. With a bunch of army boys
staying in a small town it didn’t take long for word to get out what was
happening so the next morning the Alexanders learned the meaning of a new
word “paparazzi”. They had media at the front gate wanting interviews,
helicopters, planes you name it because “Hobbiton” had finally been found.
So by lunchtime the film company had employed a security guard who lived in a
caravan (trailer) at the front gate. They had a security guard that lived
in that caravan 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and was there for 13 months
with the exception of one week off! The film company was able to have a
special act put through parliament to declare a no fly zone over the area
which prevented anyone from being able to fly over and see what was
happening and prevent filming problems.

It took Russell Alexander eight months to negotiate the rights to do the
tours after the release of the Fellowship of the Ring. He then had four
months to get the set ready for tourists. The first tours took place on
the night of the premiere of The Two Towers, in December 2002.

For those that visit in the future if you are Top Ten Holiday Park members
you can save $7.50 off the price of the tour.

From Hobbiton we visited the town nearby that has an Info Centre that has
been remade into the theme of Hobbiton. Then we headed to Lake Taupo for
a couple of nights at the Lake Taupo Top Ten.

Steve and Judy Dauzenroth
s/v Code Blue

Our plans have changed and we need to go back to Seattle via airplane. We’re
hauling the boat out in Whangarei, NZ. We hope to catch up with friends
and family in Seattle. And we’ll keep you posted as we have more
information. As they say you make plans at low tide in sand and they
might change.

 – s / j –

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Comments»

1. adamscissy@gmail.com - April 30, 2017

Hi Steve and Judy, what are your dates in Seattle? Cissy

2. Marie & Greg - April 30, 2017

Pretty neat story. See you soon. Marie

3. Richard Carter - April 30, 2017

Enjoy hearing about your travels.


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