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New Zealand: Off to Hobbiton

Posted by guest  October 15, 2008 09:47 AM

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A couple hours south and east of Auckland in the North Island takes you through the rolling hillsides and sheep country reminiscent of jolly old England. Here, a few miles from the town of Matamata, ten acres of a farm owned by the Alexander family became Hobbiton. A three-month shoot took place, beginning December 1999, on the largest green set ever used in a movie. Now it's open to "Lord of the Rings" fans as a tourist site. Facades of 17 of the original 37 hobbit holes remain. The grass is a vibrant green this time of year and sheep have taken over the property. Watch for "hobbit droppings" as you take a guided tour through the evocative site which is still a working sheep and beef farm. Naturally, you can buy Lord of the Rings souvenirs at the gift shop/cafe The Shire’s Rest --- gold rings, coffee mugs, and bottles of "SobeRing Thought" low alcohol beer drunk by the actors during filming.

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Posted by Globe correspondent Ethan Gilsdorf, who is traveling in New Zealand to research his book "Escape Artists."

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