Hobbits set up camp on Takaka Hill

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 12:30 12/11/2011
Cast and crew arrive yesterday at Nelson Airport aboard  a chartered jet  on their way to the Takaka Hill to film part of the Hobbit.
ROSS D WEARING/PRO MOTION MEDIA NELSON
MOUNTAIN TREK: Cast and crew arrive yesterday at Nelson Airport aboard a chartered jet on their way to the Takaka Hill to film part of the Hobbit.

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Look down. No, lower. See anything? The Hobbits are here.

Trucks with set-up equipment were expected to arrive at Canaan Downs last night, with filming of The Hobbit in the Nelson region to begin today.

Security staff were there yesterday, setting up and guarding two large marquees, a number of half-moon, hut-like bamboo structures and what looked like utilities blocks.

The Nelson Mail understands filming will take place over the next week, before the crew head further south for more filming.

The 80 hectares at Canaan Downs near the top of the Takaka Hill, where the Luminate Festival is held, is owned by a collective made up of existing owners and new shareholders.

Jules Harper, a co-director of the company, described it as half-and-half rolling and flat open pasture and well-established native beech forest. She said crew from production company 3 Foot 7 were also filming on surrounding Department of Conservation land.

"It's quite intensive," she said.

"They have got a lot of equipment."

Ms Harper said the film crew would be based there on and off over the next couple of months, but she said she was not allowed to give specifics.

When asked if she had seen any Hobbits, she said: "I think Hobbits live up there all year round."

Ms Harper said Canaan Downs lent itself beautifully to being a film location.

"It's a real honour just to be involved," she said, adding that revellers at Luminate often referred to the area as being "just like the Lord of the Rings".

A helicopter pilot from Queenstown is helping 3 Foot 7 with aerial filming, with a camera attached to the front of his Squirrel helicopter. Alfie Speight and a cameraman flew around the Pelorus River and Mt Owen yesterday and he said they "could be" filming in Takaka today.

Mr Speight was also involved in filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Vertical Limit, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong. He will spend two months filming characters and scenery from the air.

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- The Nelson Mail

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