Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Visit to Hobbiton

Back in January, we celebrated our Anniversary by visiting the Hobbiton set in Matamata, north of Taupo. I had wanted to show the photos here much earlier, but was unfortunately prevented from doing so by the Non-Disclosure Agreement they made everybody sign there (as you buy your ticket).

However, it seems that Common Sense has prevailed, and they're now allowing people to show their photos finally. It's not like we haven't already seen what it looks like in the Lord Of The Rings movies, a decade ago!

So, this will be a lengthy blog entry - there's almost 50 photos here. I'll add the occasional comment but in general I'll let the photos do the talking.

As always, the photos are mine, and I retain my copyrights. The sets themselves (and the rights to them) belong to the studio - but I took these pictures. If you want to use them, please check with me first, and also the Hobbiton people themselves. They still don't want them to be shown commercially (so, not in the general media).

As always, click on the pics for better quality. The detail is terrific!

The road to Hobbiton is (coincidentally!) named Buckland Road.
My wife Alex, in front of the bus named after her favourite Middle-earth citizen.

A chair, ready to be relaxed in. If it wasn't half-sized.

The ladder reached to my chest. So good to be "tall".

A yellow door.

The garden needs some work. Apparently there are lazy hobbits also.

A blue door.

A green door.

"Just check if anyone's in?"

Another yellow door.

Another green door.

The wood neatly stacked ready for winter.

I love the little overhang so the rain doesn't get in.

A much tidier garden. Obviously well-to-do hobbits.

Another yellow door.

Yellow is obviously a favourite colour in this part of town.

The fence has been made to look much older and moldier.

Gorgeous house, with chimney.

Presumably the house of the cart-maker. Note the rounded gate and the squared door. A bit of a rebel hobbit, this one. Square doors are all the rage in Bree, don't you know?

Another blue door.

The fence is kept shut with an old horse-shoe.

Fantastic gardens everywhere too. Rows of cabbages and other vegies.

The view across the lake. On the other side, still off-limits, is the bridge-house, the Green Dragon pub, and the mill.

Three hobbit-houses at the lakeside. Behind it, a familiar sight!

Going uphill now, with houses uilt in to the hillside, and chimneys everywhere from the houses beneath.

The view from the hill.

More gardens near the top. To the right of this hobbit's abode, a beehive.

More detail. By the way, the tree at the left is fake. Could you tell?

I don't need to describe this one. We all know who lives here!

We felt an overpowering urge to knock on this door. With a staff. Incidentally, I couldn't find any "secret signs" on it (but then it wouldn't be secret, would it?)

No really, it's fake. Trust me. It's life-sized.

Signs everywhere, in case you get lost. The writing is in the unmistakable script of Daniel Reeve.

After a visit to the Green Dragon, you might need the signs to get home, I'd imagine.

And that's where Mr Bilbo lives!

The road to East Farthing. Gandalf came in through here on his cart.

The magnificent Party Tree. It's real, don't worry (but it's a Pine Tree, not an Oak).

The Honey Factory. Two hobbit-child's toys on the left.

Two beautifully painted See-Saws, on the Party-Field.

The mold is real mold, artifically grown.

And the cabbage is real too. A whopper!

Warning - Hobbits Underfoot!

A special sight. The tour went past this but didn't go into it. Apparently this much more overgrown section was Guillermo del Toro's vision of the Shire. It looked a lot darker and more mysterious!

The wood-shed.

A wishing well, covered to make it safe for hobbit children.

And one more child's toy - a swing under a tree. I'd imagine it would be a nice place to enjoy a pipe as well.

Back in the Shire's Rest, everything was Hobbit-themed. The clock...

...the Fireplace, ...

...and even the Toilet-roll Holder had the right shape.

The Shire's Rest is the cafe, by the way.

I'd love comments! Are they on the right track? Are you green with envy? Better yet, are you planning a visit?

Leave me your thoughts!


  1. Nice photos:), I visited in November as part of a road trip for my 21st birthday! ( OK, so yeah...the whole trip was actually planned around going to Hobbiton:). I took my Irish Tin Whistle and played Howard Shore's Hobbit/Shire music in front of Bag End for our entire tour group of about thirty people!! It was amazing! Apparently (as of November 2011) I was the first and only visitor to have played music on the set!! The guide was so impressed that he let me sneak past the boundaries and have my photo taken in front of one of the holes:) Hobbiton is officially the coolest place ever!

    1. Wow, that would have been cool...!

      At last month's Welly-moot (Wellington's Tolkien Society meeting), Jens Goetz from the German Tolkien Society turned up in full Gandalf costume. He wore that at Hobbiton as well, and had the photos to prove it!

  2. Nice photos, Jack. John and I went there in'09. Must try and come back soon.

    1. I'd love to see you both back in NZ, Ruth! Come soon! :)

  3. Yay, cool photos! The set looks more complete than in November 2010 when I visited. I have to post my photos to my own blog soon... Any idea if they will make the inn an actual functioning pub/inn/restaurant and when that would happen?

    1. Basically, these photos should show a completed set - after all, the filming had already been completed at that stage (exept for possible pickups later maybe).

      I have also heard the rumours about the pub/inn/restaurant, and also about the eight allegedly complete hobbit holes opening for a Bed & Breakfast. I don't know anything about the accuracy of these claims. Here's hoping!!

      How's things in Finland, by the way? :)

    2. Things in Finland are looking up, spring is coming! Still planning my next visit to NZ. :)

    3. Here are some of my Hobbiton pictures from November 2010. Unfortunately (for some :P ), the text is in Finnish, but I'm sure the pictures will do the talking.

      There are pictures of other LOTR locations in the blog as well. The posts they're in are all tagged "LOTR", in case anyone wants to take a look. :)

    4. Very nice, especially as a comparison of "then" and "now"... rhanks for the link! (recommended, everyone!)

      - Jack

  4. Nice photos, looks very different than a year ago when I visited. So is everyone now allowed to post those photos on blogs and Facebook or was this a special privilege to a few? :)
    to U: the tour guide told us last year that the inn would eventually be a place to hire for example weddings etc.. Ideas popping into my mind immediately, only to be crushed by the other member of these possible future wedding plans.. ;)

    1. This is the statement they gave on their facebook page:

      "Hobbiton Movie Set wishes to announce that the Non Disclosure Agreement that many of our visitors have signed when visiting the set has been lifted. This means that you can now publish or post your images online. The lifting of the NDA applies for non commercial use only. The NDA still applies for any commercial, promotional or media use."

      So, I think I'm good. (1) I'm not making money on this site (losing quite a bit every year, actually); (2) considering my views on how the studio is treating its fans, I can hardly be considering a "promotional site"; and (3) I've never been treated as "media" by the studio - for instance, they won't send me media updates, or press releases, or whatever. In that respect, TORn is media, and promotional.

      This blog entry is about my personal visit to Hobbiton. It was on our anniversary - you couldn't get a lot more personal than that.

      I'm not sure what they're hoping to achieve with a "commercial NDA". They're not asking anyone to sign anything anymore. Or are they saying "don't promote The Hobbit, we don't want anyone to know about it"? Odd.

  5. Well, I think that I could think of a few ways to breach the commercial NDA...

    1: Take a private tour of the set for the 300 odd dollars that it costs and film a commercial within the time it takes to be on the tour.

    2: Use your photos or video taken while there to advertise your own product (say a "New Zealand" product).

    3: Advertise yourself as being able to do professional photography (that others are paying you for) on the set, like wedding photos or portraiture.

    So yeah.....I can see why they have the commercial NDA still. The professional photography on the set thing is something they could very well have as a service at some point....

    1. Fair call... :) I'm a bit jumpy at the moment with Tolkien related matters and lawyers...

      On a related note, I see Ian McKellen has also jumped in to the "Hobbit Cafe" mess that Stephen Fry has commented on earlier...

  6. Fantastic pictures.Very jealous of your trip

  7. Thank you Jack for these pictures! - A Tolkien fan from Finland

    1. You're very welcome...! It seems there are LOTS of LOTR fans in Finland!

  8. Wonderful photos!! Thanks for posting! Takes me back to the feeling of watching it :)

    1. I'm glad it had that effect... I think it's time for us to watch them all again soon, too... I'm halfway through setting up a new home cinema here - I'm just hanging up the (bedsheet) screen for the old projector. LOTR may have to be first billing!

  9. Very cute! I'd love to go!

    1. You should! In the meantime, gaze at the photos till you can't stand it anymore, and come over already! :)

  10. omg I needed that! It totally warmed my heart.

  11. Thank you for sharing those! I'm absolutely green;D

  12. Wow great photos! I've been wanting to go to NZ since the first time I saw FOTR Over 10 yrs ago..specifically to see Hobbiton :) unfortunately I haven't made it there yet, but I'm holding out hope I will someday. It just looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  13. I have loved looking at your pictures! Very cute, and in my case inspirational...Thanks Jack!

  14. Good Blog Jack,Great Pictures,
    I Hope P.J. Could Rebuild Rivendell one day too : )

  15. amzing!!!! my partner and i are saving up right now to come over to new zealand from old blighty to get married at hobbiton and do the whole lotr tour. excited, can't wait.