Anyone who has had the privilege of watching Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit knows that the beauty of the sets simply can't be denied. What many might not know is that all of that gorgeous scene-setting is pretty natural and displays New Zealand in all its wondrous glory. From mountains to pastures and all that lies in between, the LOTR series is one that was filmed all over, using all this gorgeous country had to offer as its setting.
The Shire, referred to as Hobbiton now, is real, too - you can even visit! We've got all the behind the scene facts on what it took to make these movies, along with some interesting tidbits you may not have known about these novels brought to life.
20 The Shire Is Actually A Working Farm
It's true! This beloved little Shire is actually part of a massive working farm in New Zealand. It's actually a farm filled with sheep but the sheep were removed for movie-shooting purposes. Instead, a different breed was brought in to further echo the feel of a traditional Shire.
19 Watch Out For Trolls At Denize Bluffs, A Real Location
The location in the movie where Frodo was chased by trolls does actually exist, and it's open to the public. You can visit and eat lunch there, all while enjoying a troll-free stroll... we hope. It's tough to tell the difference between fantasy and reality when your movie set is this stunning!
18 The Party Tree Is Actually As Tall As It Looks... And Then Some
While many of the trees in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were actually fake, the Party Tree was real. It does indeed tower at a brilliant height, something fans will be pleased to know. Filmmakers searched far and wide until they found the perfect (real) tree to do the novel series justice.
17 The Shire Was Rebuilt After Being Torn Down
Interestingly enough, the Shire was torn down after its original purpose in LOTR. It was then rebuilt for The Hobbit series and has remained standing to this day, now known as Hobbiton. It's open to visitors and they see an average of over 300,000 people per year!
16 Putangirua Pinnacles Can Be Hiked And Is Just As Creepy IRL
There's even a camping spot in this unique set of mountains. Many of the backgrounds from the movies were true to life, including many of the mountain scenes. Since New Zealand is known for its rocky regions and wilderness, it wasn't too tough to find areas that would suit the world of Frodo.
15 Hobbiton Is Now A Permanent Fixture
It's open to the public and even provides tours for those who are drawn to the tiny village. While many of the homes are staged and not actual houses, visitors can enter one that has been reserved specifically for tours. There's even a pub so you can stop in for a pint on your way out!
14 Take A Guess At How Many Hobbit Homes Exist
There are 44 hobbit holes in Hobbiton, but not all of them are fully-functioning. Some can even be seen as built to scale per the height of the actors. For example, the holes Gandolf can be seen at were built to a 60 percent scale, while the hobbit's homes were scaled to 90 percent.
13 Apples, Pears, And Fake Plums Were All Part Of A Deleted Scene
Size matters when it comes to creating a Shire that's believable, and that means the trees needed to be accurate as well. While plum trees grew there naturally, the director had pear trees brought in so they would be a bit smaller and appear more to-scale with everything else on the set.
12 Interiors Were Actually Shot In Another Part Of New Zealand
Since the exteriors of the hobbit holes needed to be scaled so small as to create the illusions that the hobbits were also small, they were impossible to film in. Therefore, many of the hobbit holes seen in the movies are either empty inside, or are simply fake exteriors superimposed into a hillside.
11 Mount Doom Exists, But Filming Wasn't Done At Its Summit
While it's possible to visit Mount Doom, the reality is that it is an actual mountain whose summit is part of sacred Maori land. For this reason, filming was done around the mountain but when it came to the summit scene, it needed to be filmed in a similar environment before being digitally combined.
10 Hobbiton Requires Year-Round Gardeners
You can't have all these hobbit homes without a floral setting, after all! Hobbits are said to have green thumbs and be very aware of their surroundings, so it's no surprise that the natural beauty around the homes requires plenty of upkeep. Gardeners are hired specifically for the grounds so that they're looking their best during every season.
9 Frog Removal Was Necessary
The Shire was designed around a natural lake and as such, it came with its own ecosystem. While it sounds a bit funny, filmmakers decided that the extra noise from this body of water was just a bit too much for the movies... mainly the lake's frogs. A team was brought in to remove some of them, but don't worry, no frogs were harmed in the making!
8 The Green Dragon Inn Is Legit
The inn from the movies does exist, and it can be visited when fans tour Hobbiton. The interior of this inn is just as quaint and charming as you'd expect and don't worry - the ceilings are a normal height. It caters to all walks of life - hobbits and humans alike!
7 Rather Than Lawnmowers, Production Crews Used Sheep
The reasoning behind this choice is a bit unclear, but we love the natural aspect of it. In order to keep the Shire in tip-top shape, the film crew just allowed the sheep on the property to do their thing. It would likely look too perfect if lawnmowers were brought in and, after all, equipment like that didn't exist in Middle Earth.
6 Fangorn Forest Is Roughly 1.2 Million Acres
It really is just as enormous as it seems in the movies. While the forest is ork-free in reality, that doesn't make it any less creepy. The specific vegetation and plant life that grows in this grove give it a particularly fantasy-feel. Not much needed to be done for the movies to make it believable, and you can visit this location in real life!
5 Most Of The Hobbit Homes Are, Indeed, Just Facades... Sorry!
While many of the doors open, fans would probably be surprised to see that there's nothing but empty space inside. Many of the hobbit homes, which needed to be scaled down to create the illusions needed for the movie, are nothing but facades. They've been incorporated so well into the hillsides so that you'd never know the difference.
4 Hobbits Can Be A Bit Strange... But So Were The On-Set Jobs
Having sheep maintain the grass on the Shire set wasn't the only strange thing behind the scenes. People were also hired to hang laundry! This was to give a realistic feel to the Shire; with people in the background doing normal, everyday things, it felt less like a movie scene and more like an actual town. Still, a strange job nevertheless.
3 Bag End Faces The Wrong Way, So The Sunset Scene Plays In Reverse
A fun fact about both the set and the movie is that Bag End doesn't actually face the sunset. Instead, it faces the sunrise. This means that film crews were required to wake up extra early so that they could film the scene backward. By filming the sunrise, they were able to play it backward so that it appeared to be the sun setting in the distance.
2 No Editing Was Needed For Lake Pukaki
This lake is pretty prevalent in the movie and many may have wondered if it was edited. We're happy to report that no CGI was required to alter this lake's appearance or color. The water gets that color naturally from minerals that are mixed into the water runoff - super cool, and super unique!
1 The Number Of People Who Visit Worldwide Is Shocking
As we mentioned earlier, Hobbiton, specifically, gets over 300,000 visitors or more every year. They recently celebrated their millionth visitor, but what many don't realize is that's not including people who visit New Zealand. The movies were shot all over the country, resulting in a spike in interest from fans of LOTR.