By Ruth Atherley
With the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand will once again be spotlighted on the big screen. And for those inspired to take a trip to the country that brought Middle-earth to life, there are plenty of activities in New Zealand related to the trilogies to thrill Hobbit fans.
In the Marlborough region – located on New Zealand’s South Island – in an area known for its fabulous sauvignon blanc, visitors can take an awe-inspiring trip to the spot where a scene from the upcoming movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was filmed. Pelorus Eco Adventures offers guided tours down the Pelorus River to the location where the ‘dwarves in the barrels’ scene was filmed. The three-hour trip – in tandem inflatable kayaks – explores the crystal clear river, stops at beautiful waterfalls and offers guests the opportunity to check out one of the new film locations up close and personal.
In Wellington fans can check out the Weta Cave, which screens a behind-the-scenes look at Weta which features an interview with co-founder Peter Jackson. The attraction has a mini-museum that features props and displays from The Lord of the Rings films. While in Wellington, which is known to many as ‘Wellywood’ because of its flourishing film industry, visitors can also experience the ultimate Middle-earth full-day tour with Wellington Rover Tours.
On the North Island, in the quaint village of Piopio, visitors can experience Hairy Feet Waitomo, one of the newest movie-based adventures in New Zealand. This scenic film location tour provides personally guided visits around the sites used in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. One of the sites that is of particular interest to Hobbit fans is where the troll campfire scenes were filmed. And just north of Piopio, in the world-famous Waitomo Caves, is Ruakuri Cave, which provided the sound for the goblin cave scenes in the same movie.
Northeast from there, near the charming town of Matamata, is the incredibly visual Hobbiton Movie Set. This film set showcases charming specially-crafted Hobbit holes. Spending time at Hobbiton feels like you have stepped right into the movies; it is a must-do for fans of the films.