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From Waitomo we arrived in the familiar town of Cambridge just after lunchtime and pitched our tent at Cambridge Motor Park again, ready for the afternoon visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. The kids remembered the small park on site and entertained themselves. Hobbiton Movie Set is only a half an hour drive from Cambridge.
Before filming The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson’s location scouts set off in helicopters to find suitable locations for the film. When one of the scouts flew over the owners farm he knew it would be perfect for the location of the Shire. He landed, met with the owner and asked if Peter Jackson could come and view the location. Peter met with the owner, who agreed that they could use the land for the Shire in the films. Up until that point they had about ten different locations that would be used. However, the large tree, the lake and the hills on this plot meant that filming could be done in one location – Hobbiton.
The location was used for the Lord of the Rings and then torn down. When Peter Jackson decided to film The Hobbit they needed the location and the Shire back again. At this point the owner of the farm had a proposition for Peter Jackson. He asked if they could leave the set after production of the film and they would make it into a tourist attraction and so Hobbiton came to be.
As we arrived to park the car it was clear just how popular the attraction was. Many people were waiting to be taken down to the movie set by shuttle busses. We had not been able to book a tour when we were first in Cambridge as it had sold out, therefore we had to change our plans to return and book ahead.
Mum was particularly excited to see the set, being a huge fan of the films. Both kids had never seen any of the movies so we were not so sure how well they would receive it. A shuttle bus takes you to the bottom of the hill where the shire movie set is. A guide then takes you around the Shire, explaining how scenes in the movies were filmed, and how they used perspective to create the illusion that Gandalf was much bigger than the Hobbits. Having visited the Weta Studios in Wellington the kids, especially our Son, was keen to learn more about movie making techniques.
The set itself is bigger than it first looks and it took almost two hours to walk around, stopping for photos and explanations along the way. The tour ends at the Green Dragon pub which is a fully functioning pub. Guests receive a free drink of either Ale, Cider or Ginger Beer and get to sit and drink by a log fire!
The tour guides do a fantastic job informing you about the set as much as possible and the attention to detail that Peter Jackson put into the Shire scenes. We came away wanting to watch the movies again with a different view on how the Shire scenes were achieved. The kids also loved the experience. Despite not seeing the films they loved the little Hobbit houses dotted in the hillside and posed for plenty of pictures in front of the many coloured circular doors!
The kids had one last play in the small park on site at Cambridge Motor Park before we had a night’s sleep in the tent. Up early the next morning we packed up and drove north, heading to the town of Thames for the start of five days on the Coromandel Peninsular…