|We were greeted by a sign saying, "Welcome to Hobbiton" as we rolled into the tiny town of Matamata. The main street had a wide grassy boulevard, dotted with the odd blossoming tree. It was a very quite town.
As it was a beautiful day out, we decided not to take a chance on the weather and to book onto a tour of Hobbiton today.
Our tour guide and driver were very friendly and full of anecdotes and information about the filming. Apparently, the section of a sheep farm that was eventually transformed into Hobbiton was spotted by New Line Cinema folks from the air. It had all the attributes they were looking for -rolling hills, and more importantly, a tree by a lake. Equally as important was the fact that there was no evidence of civilization that could be seen from that spot on the Alexander farm.
As our tour took us to the spot where Peter Jackson and the New Line Cinema stood and surveyed the area, we could see why they would have chosen this spot. The hills were a lush green for as far as you could see --it was beautiful.
Our tour took us to various sites such as animal kingdom, where the donkeys, horses, and other animals lived; the massive area that was taken over by the catering folks and the food tent; and to where all the trailers were parked for the cast.
We jumped off the bus and started walking through Hobbiton. Originally, all of Hobbiton was to be taken apart, just like all the other filming locations. However, a long bout of rain storms delayed the scheduled demolition and the crew was to return later to finish the job. In the end, the Alexanders were able to strike a deal with New Line and the rest of Hobbiton remained as it was left at the end of filming. The Hobbit holes were there, but all the fancy wood facade seen in the movies had long since been removed.
It was really neat seeing the large photo boards that depicted what the area looked like in the movie, and then looking at what it is like now. The Hobbit holes were very neat. Aside from Bag End, you can't walk into any of them. In the movies, you would see the door opening, and someone making like they were going into the home. That was as far as they could go, because there was just a wall of dirt on the other side of the door. We were able to climb inside of Bag End and have a look out of Bilbo's front door. We all took turns sitting on the front stoop, taking in the view of the lake and the big 'party' tree. It was a beautiful view.