In September 1998 Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema discovered the Alexander family farm during an aerial search for suitable film sites. The fantastic views and rolling country side of the Alexander farm closely resembled that of Middle Earth as described by The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R Tolkien. The large established pine tree, later re-named the party tree, was already perfectly placed in front of the lake. The surrounding rolling farmland was untouched by the 20th century clutter such as roads, buildings or power lines. The farm was perfect.Site construction started in March 1999. Initially this involved heavy earthmoving machinery provided by the New Zealand Army. Total site construction took nine months. Throughout construction and filming all activity on the site was kept under strict security due to commercial restraints by the movie company.Filming commenced in December 1999 and continued for three months. At its peak 400 people were working on site, including director Peter Jackson, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Frodo (Elijah Wood), Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) and Sam (Sean Astin). The Alexander family has lived on the 1250 acre (approx 500 hectares) property since 1978. The land supports a thriving sheep and beef cattle business. The Alexander farm runs 300 beef cattle and more than 13,000 of New Zealand’s famous sheep on the lush, rolling hills. GOOD TO KNOW THE NEW ZEALAND ARMY ARE WELL-EMPLOYED IN PROTECTING THE NATION AND FIGHTING WORLD TERRORISM. ARMY EARTH MOVING EQUIPMENT IS OBVIOUSLY INTENDED FOR THEME PARK DEVELOPMENT.
Google is obviously your friend, YP. But just a mention; it would be impossible to call 'Hobbiton' a theme park, not even with a big stretch of the imagination. There are just a few ol' hobbit holes left. And lots of lambs. Luckily we don't have lots of wars down here, so the army keep in training by doing other useful things. LOTR was such a help to our economy!Having said that, I believe the New Zealand Army is currently deployed in many places around the world, including Afghanistan.