Milford Sound, perhaps New Zealand’s most famous scenic location, was long overlooked by early sailors and explorers, who didn’t realise the narrow entrance concealed an enormous and beautiful interior.
It wasn’t discovered by Europeans until 1812.
Named the eighth ‘wonder of the world’, its actually one of the wettest places on Earth, with rainfall creating cascades of waterfalls, some reaching a 1,000m in length.
Even before it was retrofitted with several Hobbit Holes to play the part of Hobbiton in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of the classic Tolkien book series, this sheep farm seemed like a perfect stand-in for the famous fictional “Shire,” home of hobbits everywhere.
Indeed, its natural likeness is undoubtedly the reason Jackson and his producers chose the location – with the only other qualification being that it’s located in New Zealand, unofficial real-life location of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
The farm is still an active sheep farm, but visitors can tour the area used for the set.
Most of the Hobbit Holes are fenced off and you can’t enter them, but one is specifically designed for visitors to enter and explore. Tour guides are employed to explain where in the movies each area appears – Bag End is a highlight, along with The Green Dragon, a whimsical old-world pub.
In fact, The Green Dragon is now open for business and at the end of the tour you can have a drink there.
The set is very detailed and the hobbit holes are purposely made to look as though they have been there for years, complete with details like fake moss and many other small touches.
The tree at Bag End is a fake tree intended to preserve the area’s appearance as it was in the film, even though the one featured in The Lord of the Rings was real.
The film version was actually cut down and placed there for the movie.
It died by the time they decided to film The Hobbit, so a fake tree with hand-painted leaves sits in its place, an exact replica of the original.
The gorgeous location makes it easy to see why this was chosen for The Shire.
The farm is in the middle of the countryside, still seemingly hidden from the modern world.
A GPS is helpful in locating it, since there aren’t really any signs directing you where to go.