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.
Lissa Mitchell, Curator of Historical Documentary Photography at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, explores the work of three photographers creating autochromes in early 20th-century New Zealand.
“Cleopatra” in Domain Cricket Ground, 1914, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018196).
Announcements of the Lumiére brothers’ autochrome process were reported widely in New Zealand newspapers during late 1907 and early 1908. The process was described as a dream come true for photographers longing to discover a way of making photographs in a process that was able to represent natural colours.
However, while the process was eagerly anticipated and widely discussed it has remained a minor footnote in histories of photography related to New Zealand.
Like the earlier daguerreotype and ambrotype, autochromes are unique, one off photographs which produce an image directly onto a glass plate rather than a negative, an aspect which no doubt appealed to amateur photographers with artistic aspirations.
Autumn, 1915, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018208).
In early 1908, Wellington photographer Elizabeth Greenwood gave a reporter from the Dominion newspaper a first-hand demonstration of the process.1 Greenwood exposed two plates – one a portrait of a group of girls and the other a still life – giving the reporter the chance to compare the resulting plates with the real subjects in the studio.
The portrait plate was exposed for 30 seconds with the only favourable result being the brilliant reproduction of a blue dress worn by one of the subjects. Meanwhile Greenwood exposed the second plate of a still life scene for three and half minutes resulting in a plate the reporter described as more brilliant than the actual scene – rich in colour and detail including in the shadows.
However, it wasn’t long before the inadequacies of the autochrome process for widespread commercial use was raised. In May 1908, in response to rumours in Auckland, the city’s Star newspaper printed an advertisement in which a monetary reward was offered to the person able to produce a colour print on paper using a process that could be of commercial value.
According to the advertiser someone in the city was claiming to have done ‘what the cleverest scientific men in Europe have so far failed to do, that is, to produce Photographic Prints in Natural Colours.’2 The advertiser, G. F. Jenkinson, stressed he was not interested in ‘an autochrome transparency upon glass, which are now fairly common and of no value except as lantern slides.
From the top of Shortland Street, 1913, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (A.018201).
Trees stand like guardians at the top of Lake Wakatipu on New Zealand’s South Island.
Says Brad Grove, a member of our Your Shot community: “I first discovered these trees by the Glenorchy jetty back in April 2011 and had never really been happy with my efforts to shoot them.”
Grove achieved this HDR image in June 2012, after approaching the trees from a different direction.
“It was minus 4 [degrees Celsius] on a very cold morning, and the sun had just broken the horizon behind me,” he says. “The composition fell into place, and I took seven exposures hoping I had enough data to produce the image I could see in my head.”