A follow-up to the wildly popular “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” hits theaters this Friday. If you’ve been counting down the days (like we’ve been), you can expect way more adventure, way more danger, and a lot more screen time with of one of its biggest stars – New Zealand.
Just like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit” trilogy was shot entirely in New Zealand, from the hills of The Shire in Matamata, (where you can still visit the 44 Hobbit Holes they built), to the wastelands of Mordor in Tongariro National Park.
We can’t tell you exactly what in the new movie was filmed where (so many spoilers!), but if you haven’t read the books or seen the trailers and want to go in 100% clean, maybe skip this paragraph. What we CAN say is that it involves a daring escape at the Pelorous River in Marlborough, a dangerously inhabited mountain in Ruapehu, and a possibly imperiled town on the shores of Lake Pukaki (keep an eye out for Steven Colbert, who makes a cameo).
Coinciding with the unveiling of a new multi-ton sculpture in Wellington Airport, Air New Zealand also just unveiled their tribute to the movie in the form of a Boeing 777 wrapped with a giant image of the dragon Smaug. And that’s not the only way they’re getting in the spirit:
New Zealand also literally has entire tour itineraries dedicated to visiting the 250 Middle Earth locations around the country. If you’re pressed for time, you can also just pay a quick visit to places like Weta Cave, a museum dedicated to the special effects company behind all six movies, or hop on a helicopter ride above Queenstown to see where the bulk of the movie’s aerial shots were filmed.
So are you going to be in line for The Hobbit on opening day? How badly do you want to see a Hobbit Hole in person? Let us know in the comments!
By Megan Ranney