Traversing Middle-Earth

Traversing the Middle-Earth

A journey of discoveries into the world of Tolkien.
J. R. R. Tolkien revealed to us a magical land known as Middle-Earth. Here hobbits reside within cute cubbyhole houses amidst sprawling greenery. A land where formidable craggy mountains house quarrelling stone giants, limestone cliff shelter ill tempered trolls, and fire breathing dragons guard towering mounds of gold.

He regaled us with tales of wise old wizards with long white beards, anecdotes of an army of brave dwarves plotting clever escapes, and accounts of an enchanted gold ring possessing untold dark powers. But as soon as the last page of the last book was flipped, it was all gone.

Thanks to director Peter Jackson’s spectacular portrayal of Middle-Earth in New Zealand, Tolkien fans have the chance to relive their favourite fantasy novel in real time – from stepping foot inside the familiar green door of Bilbo Baggins’ cosy hobbit hole to enjoying a Hobbit-themed beer (served in human sized beer mugs, thankfully), and a banquet feast at the Hobbit-themed Green Dragon Inn.

While one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does simply drive into the rest of Middle-Earth. The Hobbiton™ Movie Set is located a mere two hours from Auckland in the Waikato region, inside the Alexander family sheep farm. Situated amidst green rolling pastures with lambs frolicking, flower and vegetable gardens flourishing, and the Kaimai Ranges looming in the distance, it’s not hard to imagine why Frodo and his friends were homesick so often on their quest to Mount Doom. 
Through a fully guided tour, you will discover all the intricate detailing that went into creating the elaborate sets. The hobbit sized installations, complete with clothes hanging off the clothes line and used pots and pans on the front porch, make the ‘Shire’ seem so lived-in, you would almost expect to see a short man with hairy feet scuttle by. The realistic-ness of the set is no miracle. Every last detail is meticulously maintained by a team from Weta Digital, the original designers of the sets.

If the Hobbiton™ Movie Set alone doesn’t quench your Tolkien thirst, Wellington’s Weta Workshop just might. Explore the models of the various weapons used by the armies in the movies, pose with the many props, and take a hands-on workshop for a truly immersive Tolkien experience.

New Zealand is riddled with sites that served as Middle-Earth backdrops to many iconic scenes in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. The Fiordland National Park in Te Anau was portrayed as the Fangorn Forest, the limestone cliffs of Piopio served as the backdrop for the scene where Bilbo and the dwarves are
captured and nearly cooked by trolls, and the Pelorus River was used in parts for filming the scene where Bilbo and the dwarves escaped the elves in oak barrels.
With real life scenery so closely mirroring the fictional one, you’d well advised to keep an eye out for the Black Riders.

To create a movie based on a book that is the very embodiment of the genre of fantasy fiction calls for a location that is beautiful beyond the realms of imagination. And New Zealand born Sir Peter Jackson knew exactly where to look. 

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