What lies beneath Sir Peter Jackson's house

An aerial shot of Peter Jackson's Wairarapa retreat, taken in 2002, during renovations.
Kevin Stent

An aerial shot of Peter Jackson's Wairarapa retreat, taken in 2002, during renovations.

Artist Bino Smith helped create some of the playground at Sir Peter Jackson's Wairarapa estate.
Bruce Mercer

Artist Bino Smith helped create some of the playground at Sir Peter Jackson's Wairarapa estate.

Pull the right book in Sir Peter Jackson's house and the bookcase will open to Bag End - the home of Middle Earth hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

The Wellington movie director may have finished creating trilogies set in J R R Tolkien's Middle Earth but he's turned his home into a fantasy playground complete with underground tunnels, castle ruins and a liveable hobbit hole.

A former gang member who earned the trust of Jackson has shed light on the personal fantasy land which he helped bring to life in the movie director's backyard.

Bino Smith, who now lives in Hamilton, worked with Jackson on Lord of the Rings, then later King Kong.

When they'd finished painting polystyrene castle walls for Middle Earth, Smith said he and some of the LOTR crew headed down to Wairarapa "to do Pete's house".

The eastern entrance to the tunnel that was built on Sir Peter Jackson's property.  This image was taken in 2006.
Kevin Stent

The eastern entrance to the tunnel that was built on Sir Peter Jackson's property. This image was taken in 2006.

As a set finisher, Smith was experienced in carving, plastering and painting.

"[Sir Peter Jackson] bought a two-storey, 1930s mansion, just out of Masterton, he got the boys up first to build this giant roof."

It's no secret Jackson fell in love with the set of Bilbo's home while making The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so he asked New Line studio if he could have it once filming finished. Smith said he was one of the people who helped recreate Bag End in a hill on Jackson's farm.

"His eye for detail, was such that we had to build it right down to the feather, so everything is exactly the same as the movie - but it's liveable. 

"There's nothing like it in this world. People can stay there.

"Bag End is underground. You have to go under tunnels to get to it.

Sir Peter Jackson at the premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies' in Hollywood.
Getty Images

Sir Peter Jackson at the premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies' in Hollywood.

"You got the house, then you go down to the wine cellar and you pull a bottle, and it opens up a door, then you step out a look down this corridor - about 35 metres, we had to create it, then you go down one part, then there's a skeleton and some bodies, then you come out to a mock 'torture chamber', then you pull a book in a bookcase and the bookcase opens, and you walk into Bag End."

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Open up the front door to Bag End and across the grass and through the trees castle ruins can be seen, Smith said. 

"It's a playground. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are over here all the time. Danny DeVito is one of his best mates. And it's just for them. And they got the shelterbelt and everything.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in his home at Bag End on the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Director Sir ...
James Fisher

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in his home at Bag End on the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Director Sir Peter Jackson has his own replica of Bilbo's house under his Wairarapa home.

Smith left Wairarapa for Hamilton eight years ago after a family tragedy. He said Jackson's estate was far from finished and that the director had plans to eventually house his collection of World War I warplanes on the site. The planes are currently housed at Hood Aerodrome near Masterton.

"In 2002 we were told there was 10 stages, and by the time I left [in 2007] we had only finished stage 4. 

"It will be a lifelong thing."

"He wants to build an airport up there, he wants to do a train track."

 - Stuff

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