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October 20th 2006
Published: November 15th 2006
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Okay, so I'll try to make this brief because not everyone is a massive LOTR geek like me and probably wouldn't spend the 50 NZD to see a field, some plywood boards and a big tree. I myself thought it was a bit steep but since the place was on private land, it was the only way.

The Hobbiton set outside of Matamata was chosen by Peter Jackson because of its green rolling countryside, the absence of man made clutter (i.e. roads, power lines or buildings) and the large pine tree or "party tree" as it was known. After filming was completed here the set was to be removed, as agreed in contract but bad weather prevented the job from being completed and the demolition team had to come back at a later date. In the interim period, loads of LOTR pilgrims visited the farm owners asking to see the set. Seeing the potential in preserving it, the Alexander family who own the farm, went to New Line Cinema and asked for it to be saved - beats sheep farming I guess! Lots of legal chit-chat ensued but within pretty strict terms the visits were agreed.

That was then
Looking Out Over The Party FieldLooking Out Over The Party FieldLooking Out Over The Party Field

Where Gandalf and Bilbo smoked the pipe weed.
and moving forward to now, the tourists still flock in bus loads to see the only remaining set - even in its greatly reduced and partially dismantled form. Hug the tree, dance in the party field, visit Bilbo's hole - you can do it all and with the added bonus of anecdotal commentary from the local guides. The only thing it's missing are some hobbits - a few out of work actors could surely be brought in to complete the experience?!

Additional photos below
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A LocalA Local
A Local

A little robin red-breast.
The Firework TreeThe Firework Tree
The Firework Tree

Watch the movie again - this is where Gandalf lets off the fireworks for the kids following the cart.

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