Prequel to the Lord of the Rings, the long-awaited arrival of the new film trilogy The Hobbit is finally here. Encompassing a world of whimsical characters and furry-footed creatures, the adaptation of JRR Tolkien's novel entails cinematic fantasy and fiction, captured in the very real and breathtaking backdrop of New Zealand.
Producer Peter Jackson's stark contrast combining the realistic landscapes with fairytale villages, munchkin-size mills and Hobbit hole houses has a way of sending fans desperately searching for the reality and the imaginary of the epic story, making the journey to see the setting for themselves.
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HELLO! Online explores the exciting film locations of the upcoming blockbuster An unexpected Journey (to be released in December), from Matamata to Wellington, from Queenstown to the luscious surrounds of Tongariro National Park.
North Island – Matamata, New Zealand
After filming the entirety of The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, Peter Jackson was adamant that The Hobbit trilogy (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again) would be no exception, especially since declaring that New Zealand was already ‘the perfect Middle-Earth', and of course since the location is the producer's original home town.
Starring celebrities such as Ian McKellen, reprising the role of Gandalf, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, the A-List crew made the journey to the farming landscape around the Waikato town of Matamata, a two hour drive from Auckland. Here the fictional region of Middle-Earth was filmed in the Lord of the Rings, and the natural landscape has gone on to depict the magical setting for The Hobbit.
It is also where the legendary village of Hobbiton was created. You can even visit the location for yourself – since the first film's release, over 200,000 people have taken a guided tour of the fantastical setting.
New Zealand's capital is located at the southern tip of the country's Northern Island. The forested, secluded lands of Mount Victoria were used to depict Hobbiton woods.
Around 100,000 film fans are expected to turn out for the world film premiere on Wednesday – Wellington was even renamed recently as "The Middle of Middle Earth" just in time for the world premiere.
South Island – Queenstown
The curious adventure of the famous Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who journeys to the Lonely Mountains in the hopes of reclaiming a treasure stolen by the dragon Smaug, owes much of its filming backdrop to Queensland. The Remarkables, a spectacular mountain range overlooking Queenstown, was used for scenery in Lord of the Rings, and the film crew headed back once more to the misty mountains for the latest movie.
Tongariro National Park
Home to one of New Zealand's nine Great Walks and the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the national park features in the new Hobbit film in scenes of the Long Valley and Lonely Mountains.