Note:A photo gallery follows the text and videos, click for larger versions.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
NEW ZEALAND — During the world premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” New Zealand wisely took the opportunity to show journalists from around the world (and Australia) a lot of the amazing things its island nation has to offer. TheOneRing.net was part of one of the tours and rather than regurgitate all the footage, photos and writing we gathered at once, exactly when all the other journalism outlets of the world did, we thought it would be great to disperse it and share it over the course of 2013 in the lead up to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
After all, Tourism New Zealand’s motto is “New Zealand is Middle-earth” and this is true in so many ways and for much longer than just the weeks after the debut of the film. For example, above is the video made for TORn by fellow filmmaker Dan McBride who shot and edited the video tour you probably have already watched. We, and a gaggle of other media, toured the Hobbiton Movie Set and witnessed Prime Minister John Key open the new Green Dragon building accompanied by a bunch of actors who reminded us a whole lot of a company of Dwarves. (Incidentally, we had just talked to him the day before so when he showed up again, we wondered why we were being followed and what we had done wrong.)
The video speaks for itself but this remarkable property is, as far as I know, unique in all the world for its ability to transport visitors inside a book, or a movie for that matter. Being there doesn’t feel like walking on a set, rather it feels like immersion. It looks, smells, sounds and feels like one imagines Hobbiton would if you could take a magic wardrobe to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The Hobbit holes scattered about are, more or less, as they were for filming of “The Hobbit,” movies. It seems safe to assume we will see more of The Shire in subsequent movies and in the Extended Edition on home video before the end of the year.
At the Green Dragon
Meanwhile, not far from Auckland, sits this unique and amazing tourism experience. The still functioning sheep and cattle farm where the now-permanent movie set is placed, is owned by the Alexander family, as it was when discovered for “The Lord of the Rings,” films. Their television rugby match interrupted by strangers led to parts of the family farm being among the most beloved locations in fantasy film and literature. Now visitors take tours daily, either by booking directly through the farm or through travel agents, tours or cruise ships. There are several options available, including overnight farm stays, private tours and lunch options. Matamata, as authentic a small New Zealand town as you will find, serves as a gateway to the farm, offering transportation daily and had just opened a visitor’s center when we visited.
Hamilton is also near with more accommodations and an airport. Not far from Auckland, 160 kilometers in fact, visitors can easily manage the two hour car ride. It goes without saying that driving through the countryside is spectacular as well. My dream would be to meet with TheOneRing.net staff and friends in The Green Dragon, which can be reserved for private functions. They serve food and drink and I just bet you can guess what size the ale comes in. Weddings have and will happen here. The atmosphere and the finish on the place are just as good as you hope they are. In truth, for movies fans and Tolkien fans, the entire movie set experience is simply magic.
Waitomo Caves Black Water Rafting
Some tourists will hop off the cruise ship or land in Auckland and make the farm their only stop in the region and in my opinion if you made it all the way to New Zealand and don’t see more of the region you are doing it all wrong. The tour also provided us the opportunity to visit the world famous Waitomo caves. They contain the exceptionally cool glow worms and there are different ways to experience it all, including the black water rafting experience that I couldn’t resist. Hamilton serves as a good gateway to both spots and neither is to be missed. In the gallery below I will drop in a few Waitomo photos but it is an entirely different story to be told and if there is any need to explain the importance of caves to Middle-earth, you might be at the wrong website.
The region is full of food and drink, excellent accommodations and plenty more worth-while excursions. We will tackle them all in a future story. But add the farm visit and Waitomo Caves to your bucket lists. They really are wold-class destinations not to be missed but especially not by Tolkienites.
While you are here, please enjoy other videos from the premiere. First, actors talking about rings:
And Red Carpet highlights.
A map of the New Zealand region with Auckland and Matamata.
A detailed map of where The Hobbit Move Set is located near Matamata.
The door of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Seems like a good place for a party
An average human male (Dan McBride) stands in front of a small Hobbit door.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
Water at Hobbiton Movie set
They may not like boats but Hobbits have docks.
The visitor’s center in Matamata, New Zealand.
Flower at Hobbiton Movie Set
Actors look on at the opening ceremony of the Green Dragon
Still water, a view of Hobbiton Movie Set
For scale, an average sized adult (MrCere) at a Hobbit door.
A Hobbit window at Hobbiton Movie Set
Flowers and door at Hobbiton Movie Set
The interior of the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
By the lake and the mill sits the Green Dragon
The exterior of the Green Dragon
The bar at The Green Dragon
Detail of the carved green dragon in the Green Dragon
Floor plan on the wall of the Green Dragon of the Green Dragon.
Inside the Green Dragon
Door and menu at the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
Interior of the Green Dragon
Waitomo Caves black water rafting with glow worms.
There will be four dwarves attending at this years’ Armageddon Expo held this weekend March 9 / 10th at the The Stables, Addington Raceway, in Christchurch, New Zealand.
They are Hobbit actors Dean O’Gorman (Fili), Jed Brophy (Nori) William Kircher (Bifur) and Peter Hambleton (Gloin). There will be signing and photo sessions on both days. On Saturday each actor will hold their own individual panel talk, and there will be a final group panel on Sunday.
For further information, tickets and session times click here
For those who are (Fili) Dean O’Gorman (hot dwarves fans) please note that he is only able to attend on Saturday.
Welcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!
Kiwi actor William Kircher returned from a whirlwind 10 days at Hobbit world premieres to news he has landed a lead role in a new Hollywood movie. Kircher — who plays dwarf Bifur in the latest Peter Jackson fantasy hit — returned to Wellington on Wednesday after mingling with the stars on the red carpet in New York and London.
He hardly had time to draw breath before being told about his plum part as a smooth-talking villain in an upcoming American thriller, alongside an Oscar-winning actress.
“It is really exciting to get a break like this and I hear being in The Hobbit certainly helped,” Kircher told The New Zealand Herald on Sunday.
greendragon with actor John Bell, who plays Bain in The Hobbit movies
On 12th December staffer greendragon was lucky enough to attend the red (well, actually it was green!) carpet in Leicester Square, London, for the Royal Film Performance of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Many of the film’s stars – and other celebs who were there to see the movie – stopped by to say hi, and were delighted to see TheOneRing.net (‘our special friends,’ as Peter Hambleton said) represented there. This is because YOU, our readers, are all so fabulous – everyone involved with the films knows that the best fans are the ones who visit TORn. So here, as a little festive mathom offered to you all from us, the staffers at TORn, is a video of some greetings (and some ‘woohoos’!) to you all, from the folks who work in Middle-earth.
After a little footage of the set up in Leicester Square to set the scene, you’ll see John Bell (Bain) and his parents, Graham McTavish (Dwalin), James Nesbitt (Bofur), William Kircher (Bifur) and his beautiful wife Nicole, artist Alan Lee, Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Jed Brophy (Nori), Adam Brown (Ori), and of course Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin)- who were there to see the movie and revisit old haunts! Enjoy! Wishing you all happy holidays!
IGN.com has a great video interview with the dwarven cast of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ that is well worth 8 minutes of your time today. Watch the company squibble and squirm as they try to answer a variety of Tolkien trivia. In-between the humorous answers, you’ll see some great clips from the film. (Who knew Galadriel was the name of Gandalf’s sword? ) Enjoy! [Video]
With the public screenings now on in New Zealand and England and a day away in the U.S. and Canada, it seems a good time to continue to celebrate Hobbit Week and share some of the footage we gathered on the red carpet in Wellington, New Zealand. And this time instead of speaking to the media in general, they are speaking directly to you, the community that makes up TheOneRing.net. We have saved this footage for just the right time but here in the states it feels like ‘Hobbit Eve’ and there hasn’t been a lull in the media for weeks so it is now or never! Hope you enjoy some short visits and appearances by Adam Brown, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, James Cameron, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Martin Freeman, Peter Hambleton, Richard Armitage, Stephen Hunter and William Kircher. Enjoy!
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