The Dominion
November 13, 1999

Hobbits Fit Into Conservation Areas
Alan Samson

The hobbits are on the move.

The Conservation Department confirmed yesterday that it has given permission to the Lord of the Rings cast and crew to film on South Island conservation land.

Conservation minister Nick Smith said filming would be allowed during the next couple of months in the Mt Owen area near Murchison, the Wakatipu basin near Queenstown, the Te Anau area and Fiordland.

The remote and sometimes wild territory contrasts with the south-of-Matamata site of Hobbiton revealed this week.

Hobbiton, home of the hobbits. Features only briefly in the Tolkien adventure; the South Island promises a spectacular variety for the whole adventure.

"The South Island is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and will make a wonderful backdrop for the trilogy," Dr Smith said. "It’s easy to imagine walking into a forgotten corner in Fiordland and coming across characters in the book."

"I’m really pleased that conservation land will be able to contribute to the success of New Zealand’s biggest filming project by providing an authentic setting."

Dr Smith said representatives of the film compnay had been working with the department for several months to process consent applications.

He was satisfied filming would not harm the areas involved, but sire monitoring would be conducted.

Lord of the Rings producer Tim Sanders said the dramatic scenery was ideal for the films.

"It’s one of the reasons we chose to film the trilogy in New Zealand and we’re really enthuisiatic about the next stage of filming in the South Island."

"Getting this far has been a a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely been worth it as some of New Zealand’s most beautiful places will be showcased internationally."

Discussions with local Kiwis and various conservation groups had been held, Mr Sanders said.

The producers had been set comprehensive conditions, and had to pay a substantial bond, Mr Sanders said.