Hobbiton visitors sworn to secrecy

The Hobbit stopped shooting in July - the first of three "blocks" of shooting in Wellington and elsewhere - and resumes on September 5. Expect a lot more shooting.

Sir Peter Jackson has said it will be about 250 days in total, the equivalent of about eight months! There's still a little under 200 days to go.

In the meantime there is a way anyone can get a glimpse of The Hobbit. We've known for ages that a farm near Matamata was used for Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings.

The skeleton that remained of the set has been a very popular tourist attraction. We also know that it has since been rebuilt for The Hobbit - and that this time it won't be removed once filming is completed. It's been designed to last 50 years.

But what surprises me is that the public can visit the rebuilt set right now before the cameras roll.

Ian Brodie, author of the detailed and very handy Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook, is the media and communications manager for the Hobbiton movie set.

He told me that multiple tours continue to visit the set each day. "The only thing they [visitors] have to do is sign a non-disclosure agreement.

They can take as many photos as they want, they just can't post them up online or do those sorts of things. Certainly they are seeing it at its best."

I confess that I was amazed to hear this. Understandably there's a lot of secrecy around The Hobbit, even though the public knows Hobbiton well from the Rings movies.

But to be so trusting - especially these days with digital cameras and social networks - that not one of those visitors will break the non-disclosure agreement and post some photos online somewhere.

It must be tempting. There haven't been any reports of any, so I guess so far, the agreement is working.

Brodie says the original plan was to shoot scenes in Hobbiton earlier this year, but it was postponed after Jackson had to have surgery and will be later this year. The Hobbiton Tours website says the set will be closed to vistors from October 5 until November 8.

So if you want to have a close up look at Hobbiton and then be able to boast "I've been there" when The Hobbit comes out, now's your chance. You just can't splash your photos around.

The Dominion Post