Hobbiton Movie Set
One can only imagine what the site must have looked like from the sky - no roads, no power cables, no houses just fantastic views, rolling countryside and a huge pine tree which was later to become the Party Tree.
Peter Jackson and his team discovered the Alexander Farm during an aerial reconnaissance flight looking for suitable sites to film. The site began construction in March 1999 and much of the heavy work was done by the New Zealand Army. The total construction took nine months and filming began in the December. The site was kept under strict security from the outset and with filming lasting three months that must have been some feat.
Nowadays people come by the bus load to visit the site, the groups are carefully moved through the site to ensure maximum enjoyment and uninterrupted views of the Shire wherever possible. The creativity and ingenuity that has gone into the creation of the set is awe inspiring. Who can pluck such things from their head, with such detail and make it a reality?
There is even an oak tree whose leaves had to be wired on by hand individually. The time, patience and dedication that has gone into building this set is evident as you walk around. Hobbit sized garden furniture and tools can be found by the front doors of the Hobbit holes, Hobbit sized clothes dry on the clothes lines and it looks as if someone was just working the vegetable patch. In fact, the whole set look very lived in, as though the Hobbits have all just wandered off for tea somewhere and will soon be back.
I have a private tour of the Shire ending in lunch across the bridge at the Green Dragon Pub. The Green Dragon is now a fully functioning and fully licensed restaurant. Needless to say the food and drink is Hobbit style. I opt for a steak pie, a ham and cheese "mousetrap" and a jar of home brewed ginger beer, hearty sustenance for Shire folk. I soon have the Green Dragon to myself, apart from the cat who has taken up its position in an armchair by the fire, clever cat.
This is the only permanent movie set in the world and even if not a Tolkien fan, it is certainly worth the visit, in fact a large percentage of the visitors have never seen any of the movies but I imagine they do watch them after their visit.