Hobbit location taking shape

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2011
The Hobbit
TIM CLAYTON/FAIRFAX NZ

THE HAMMERS FELT LIKE RINGING BELLS: Film crew members, including builders carry out construction and finishing work on a Hobbit set.

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The "slow buildup" expected on Wakatipu Hobbit sets is hitting overdrive as anticipated local shoot dates for the mega-movie loom.

In September The Hobbit's production company, 3 Foot 7 Ltd, received resource consent to build sets and film in locations in Arcadia Station and nearby Paradise, both of which are near Glenorchy on the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu.

Consent applications state there will be a "slow buildup" in activity from October 3, culminating in busy five day shoot period from November 17 to 21.

Photos taken as late as October 24 showed only scaffold and bare board on the Paradise set.

By yesterday, the triple-storied set looked to be nearly complete and consisted of a huge, central fake tree flanked by a stone-like edifice and thatch-roofed structure. The set nestles into the treeline of a thick stand of native evergreens and rolling farmland.

Large cranes were lifting large thatched panels onto the gabled roof of a nearby house frame.

The site was buzzing with activity and the thrum of heavy machinery.

Just down the road workmen were bolting together the frame for a huge marquee, one of two to be used for catering, wardrobe and makeup.

A security guard stationed at a gate leading to the set confirmed the location was a Hobbit set, but said he was unable to elaborate.

Construction and Art Department crew, as well as arborists, were busy among shipping containers, large fake boulders, large earthmoving machinery, and more of the thatched panels. All together there were three large-boomed cranes on location.

It is unknown what location the sets will be filmed as.

Peter Jackson's latest blog says the main unit of production is currently shooting in the large Hobbiton set near Matamata.

Jackson's second production blog, released on July 9, said locations for the Anduin Grasslands and edge of Mirkwood were being scouted south of Queenstown. However, Glenorchy and Paradise are north-west of Queenstown.

As well as the two locations cleared for set-building, resource consent was also approved for a unit base on Tucker Beach Road, northeast of Queenstown, on the banks of the Shotover River.

This would be used as a helicopter landing point to ferry cast and crew to the remote Greenstone Station on the north-west tip of Lake Wakatipu.

Up to 180 helicopter launches and liftoffs were given clear-ance.

3 foot 7 has $1 million rural fire insurance cover and $10 million public liability insurance, the resource consent application states.

Three weeks have been allowed for site reinstatement work.

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- The Southland Times

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