North Island: On the Trail of the Hobbit in New Zealand

North Island: On the Trail of the Hobbit in New Zealand

Long distance travel North Island

On the Hobbit Trail in New Zealand

The final part of the “Hobbit” trilogy is coming to cinemas. Tolkien fans can take a behind-the-scenes look at the film's film sets in New Zealand and enjoy a Hobbit beer at the 'Zum Grünen Drachen' pub.

WWhen Shane Forrest leads visitors through the set of The Hobbit, he regularly experiences a full range of emotions. “Some of our fans even shed tears of joy. “They've waited a long time to come to Middle-earth,” smiles Forrest, who is marketing director at HobbitonFacility in New Zealand. “Some die-hard Hobbit fans even come in costumes – it's always fun,” Forrest says.

In the final part of the “The Hobbit” series, now showing in cinemas under the title “The Battle of the Five Armies,” the lush green hills in front of the city of Matamata were the setting for Tolkien’s hobbit village. The film, set in the North Island, is now one of the most popular travel destinations in the country.

In the permanently recreated fairytale village, visitors can also visit the hobbit tavern “Zum Grünen Drachen”. As in the movie, the innkeeper serves specially brewed hobbit beer. The spectacle doesn't just attract die-hard Tolkien fans. “Forty percent of our guests don’t know the movies or the books,” Forrest says. According to him, the number of visitors is expected to reach 300,000 this year.

A look behind the scenes

Tolkien tourism is big business in New Zealand: since the first Lord of the Rings film hit cinemas in 2001, visitors have been flocking to the film's filming locations. For many vacationers, the fantasy series is the reason for their trip.

Visiting the film series offers a look behind the scenes Special Effects Workshop, Weta, in Wellington. Here guests learn how to make heroes' weapons and armor.

Source: World Infographic

“Chain armor, such as those worn in the Middle Ages, would be too heavy for the actors,” armor expert and tour leader Daisy Jane explains to her visitors. “That's why Weta makes its own designs out of plastic.”

READ  Iceland - review - movie

One participant was amazed to learn that weaving plastic rings is hard manual labor. “This difficult work requires patience and is not for everyone,” Jane admits. “After long days of work, weaving haunts my dreams,” she says. For the technicians, it is an honor when every prop, every mask and every helmet leaves the workshop in perfect condition, even if the part can only be seen later in the background.

The enthusiasm for Middle-earth continues

The locations of the “Hobbit” films are spread throughout the island nation. With travel guide from Ian Brodie Fans can get an overview and explore a version of Middle-earth set in the South Pacific.

The author and illustrator is a devoted Tolkien fan himself. “Since I first read The Lord of the Rings in 1972, I've always imagined Middle-earth to be like the New Zealand landscape,” he enthuses.

After 13 years of “The Hobbit” hype, tourists remain just as fascinated by Middle-earth. Even if some New Zealanders are tired of the hype surrounding the fantasy series, that shouldn't dampen visitors' enthusiasm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *