Renovating Hobbiton

IT'S BACK: The farmer's paddock made famous as Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings movies is being resurrected for two The Hobbit prequel films.
IT'S BACK: The farmer's paddock made famous as Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings movies is being resurrected for two The Hobbit prequel films.

The hobbit holes of Matamata are coming to life again.

The farmer's paddock made famous as Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings movies is being resurrected for two The Hobbit prequel films.

The Waikato set was stripped in 2002 except for the frames of 17 hobbit holes underground houses for the fictional creatures.

But now fruit trees are being planted, hedgerows are being groomed and new hillocks are being marked off as the sites of more hobbit homes.

Earthworks have also started to clear a road where the wizard Gandalf and hobbit Frodo Baggins rode into the Shire on a wagon.

Red Carpet Tours owner Vic James estimated about a dozen people were working on the new site. "They've started off by planting and then they'll move on to building the sets."

The work had begun a few weeks ago, but tours of the area were still going ahead, he said.

"The first time around, everything was very secretive, but I guess it's not so much of a surprise this time," Mr James said.

Photographs of the Hobbiton developments had attracted about 500 comments on fan website theonering.net.

"I think is great to see how the new Hobbiton is born," one fan wrote. "Like Gandalf was sent back to finish his work in Middle-earth, Hobbiton is back to finish its work in Middle-earth."

The Matamata farm, owned by the Alexander family, was found by film location scouts in 1998 and was the site of three months of filming with up to 400 people the following year.

Filming on the two Hobbit films is set to begin in March.

The Dominion Post