Hidden Hobbit movie set stay extended

A Hobbit movie set discreetly hidden in the Maupuia bush will remain for up to 16 extra months and walkers may be able to get close enough to check it out.

Resource consent to keep the set at the site until December 31 next year has been approved by Wellington City Council.

The site, on the ridge between Massey Memorial and Mt Crawford Prison, was used as a set for King Kong, Kingdom Come, and for the first two Hobbit movies.

It was recently announced the Hobbit films, intended as two movies, would be made into a trilogy. The first Hobbit movie premieres in Wellington in November, the next opens the next December, and the final instalment in July 2014.

According to the resource consent, the set had been due to be removed by August 31 this year, but that date would be pushed back to December 31, 2013 at the latest to shoot the ''second'' film.

This means it will be used for the making of Desolation of Smaug which - if the title is a reliable clue - will deal with the dragon Smaug, which the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins battle in the climax of the book of The Hobbit.

It could also be used as a set for the village of Dale, which Smaug demolishes in the book, though the scene is only referenced as a past event in JRR Tolkien's version.

The site has already been used to film scenes set in the Dale.

The consent says the site, 200m from any public roads and further from residential properties, cannot be seen from anywhere in the Mt Crawford area. However, glimpses of the site ''may be possible'' from sites in Evans Bay and Roseneath.

The site is privately owned, but walking tracks in the area are open at the owner's discretion.

''While there will be the need to restrict access to the film set, the applicant does not seek to preclude access beyond the subject site. The surrounding walking tracks will remain open, and access to and along these tracks will remain at the discretion of the land owner.''

During filming, up to 600 people would be on the site.

Contact Tom Hunt
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

The Dominion Post