A few weeks back, we posted a story from the NZ Post about how the Aratiatia Rapids, a popular tourist destination, would be shut down for four days during peak tourist season for The Hobbit filming. Adding further credit to that report are these images from Ringer Spy Hobbitwatch. In the photos, you can see a crew performing some kind of tests with pink barrels at the Falls.  Here is the full report from Ringer Spy Hobbitwatch:

Just sending you a few pics of the activity going on at the Aratiatia Rapids where they have started filming for the barrell scenes in The Hobbit,  they had heaps of safety people there as pretty dangerous stuff, mostly all wound up when I took the pics, but shows the barrels they were using for when the Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves, rode the rapids in barrels to get away from the orcs I think it was.  the barrels are pink so as to allow for them being digitalized apparently.  the hyab truck was in place to maybe film up the rapids, anyway, they used both ends of the rapids to do the job, as you will see. there are big barrels on the truck, plus a small one, I guess for scaling for Hobbit size??  A couple of pics also of the crew, both safty and filming by the looks of it having smoko.

Dont’ forget to see all the photos after the break!


  1. I am glad that the pieces are moving :).

  2. Very cool. I can almost see the barrels racing down the river to Lake Town now!

  3. Gerdamarz

    Great photos. Oooh I think I’m beginning to come down with Hobbit fever. 😀

  4. Gerdamarz

    Great photos. Oooh I think I’m beginning to come down with Hobbit fever. 😀

  5. Robintaylorjenkins

    YEAH!! Cant wait too see what it looks like on film, im sure PJ’ll oull it off!

  6. Robintaylorjenkins

    YEAH!! Cant wait too see what it looks like on film, im sure PJ’ll oull it off!

  7. The small barrel is too… small. A Hobbit wouldn’t fit inside it.

    Next time try to take pictures of the crew working. I like to see the guys behind the magic. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Be glad your getting to see anything at all.

    • Mattforce7

      ya, i felt the same way about the scaling size in these photos, but i have a feeling he wants the river to feel even bigger than it actually is. There’s my justification 🙂

  8. Jesse Campfens

    A barrel for a Hobbit scale would be bigger than the original size; making Bilbo look smaller in a same size barrel as the dwarves. Nice to see the action on teh Hobbit production has started!

  9. Gandolfs apprentice

    I think they were escaping the wood elves and not the orcs. Great job hobbit spy. Keep up the great work!

  10. Garrett

    “…rode the rapids in barrels to get away from orcs, I think….” What?? You call yourself a Tolkien fan? They ride in barrels because it’s the only way to escape from Thranduil’s dungeon in Mirkwood. Come on.

  11. Brendan

    Bilbo never went into any barrel. He rode on top of the barrels

  12. Lmcpferreira

    Weren’t they rolling on top of trolls to escape from the wolves?

  13. Autumn Loamsdown

    Bilbo rode ON the barrel not IN for a while, then he put on the ring and rode on the raft with the elves, great to see things moving along on the movie. Thoughts and best wishes to our Kiwi friends.

  14. Anonymous

    First off, they were not escaping from any orcs when they rode the barrels down the rapids, they were escaping from Thranduil’s castle/prison, in the dungeon area by the cellar.

    Second, Bilbo never rode inside any Barrel, only on top, so the smaller barrel is not a “Hobbit” size barrel for him to fit inside. Instead, it’s being used for force perspective…..aka, and this is just my guess, to make the rapids look bigger than than actually are. If you send one of the big barrels down stream those rapids are going to look pretty puny……but if you send a small one down the very same rapids, the rapids will look huge!

  15. Anonymous

    Looks like things are moving along nicely with the film, I wonder when they launch the theme park ride! Seriously they have chosen another lovely NZ location.

  16. Siobhán

    Yeah, gotta argee with the comments below… Call yourself a Hobbit fan, and yet you get the story wrong! They were escaping from the dungeons of the Wood Elves not Orcs! ….may I suggest keeping the book with you, so can refer back to get and get it right!

  17. Rosie

    To get away from the ELVES!

  18. Gorgeous “swift forest river”…so that’s how Legolas got to be such a good paddler (quote from LOTR mentions he knows boats and has paddled the “swoft forest river”). I’m packing my kayak….

  19. Helen Hope

    Forget pedantic nit picking, I just think the location is awesome, and when Sir Peter Jackson works his magic on the raw material it is going to really confirm New Zealand as majestic and magical Middle Earth. Well done crew!

    Helen Hope

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