CRUISE DAY 8 – Tauranga, NZ, November 30, 2015.

This was one of our most anticipated stops on the cruise. Today we were to go to the Hobbiton movie set where filming took place for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. We were not disappointed.

On the bus ride out to the movie set we learned about the history of how the area was discovered by Peter Jackson’s crew on the Alexander Family Farm. The farm still exists and thrives around the movie set.

When work first began, the New Zealand army built the 1.5 kilometer road into the area as a training exercise. They also helped with some of the original excavations before the set crew built the facades for the 37 Hobbit holes dug into the hills.

Our local guide, dressed up in suitable Hobbit garb, took us around the set, explaining where various scenes were filmed. He also told us that the original set created for the Lord of the Rings scenes was torn down and then had to be rebuilt for the Hobbit movies. It was decided during the second build that the Hobbit holes would be left in tact for fans to see after the fact.

We started in the gardens at the bottom of hill and worked our way slowly up to Bag End. There were beautiful touches on the set everywhere you looked. A few of the Hobbit holes had clothes lines set up with clothes hanging to dry in the wind. The baker’s shop had a table with various breads (fake of course) on display.

We were told how some Hobbit holes were guilt on a very large scale to make the Hobbits seem shorter, while others were built very small to make Gandalf seem taller. We learned how perspective was used throughout the filming to maintain the illusion of the size difference between the various characters.

Filming of the indoor scenes at Bag End were done off site in a movie set, although the interior hallway inside of the door at Bag End was finished so that scenes filmed outside the open round door looked as if the interior was finished.

From Bag End we went down to the party field overshadowed by the party tree. Here they had several decorations set up like a may pole, a party tent, and a string of colored lanterns strung between two poles.

We finished the tour outside the village tavern with a nice snack where you could have tea, coffee, or a glass of local beer along with choices of several snacks.

I took many pictures with a specific purpose in mind. Yesterday I watched The Fellowship of the Ring where we first see Hobbiton in the initial trilogy. I paused the movie at several points to compare the set with the pictures that I took. It was marvelous to experience the movie once again after being on the set.

This is another stop to put on your bucket list if you were ever a fan of Peter Jackson’s two trilogies.

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