Transforming a Matamata farm into magical Hobbiton


The magical set of Hobbiton has brought fame to New Zealand’s rolling hills since the release of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Brian Massey, movie set project manager at the Hobbiton Garden, joins Tony Murrell on Home & Garden to discuss the transformation of the Matamata terrain.

“The landscape was pretty apt for what was required,” he says.

The Hobbiton landscaping team had a 12 month lead-in to develop the set in Matamata, which was a time to prepare a variety of plants to be fully grown before finalising the set.

Two concept designers, Adam Lee and John Howe, came up with the initial artwork for the Hobbiton landscape.

“It was up to us to interpret the artwork,” says Mr Massey.

We took our leads from the Tolkien books themselves.

Mr Massey is an arborist who started out supplying trees for advertisements of the like. But when Lord of the Rings came to New Zealand, he was offered the job as the film’s greens master.

“It’s rambling organic-type garden,” he says, a concept based on Mr Tolkien’s books. “It’s not formal in any way whatsoever.”

The hills of Hobbiton in Matamata. Photo: Getty.

Unlike traditional gardens, Hobbiton displays an organised mishmash of plants in its landscape. Rather than separating the flower beds and vegetable gardens, the Hobbiton garden combines them.

“The hobbits as they were – [they] were intuitive gardeners,” he says. “In some ways, it’s harder to create than a formal garden.”

The iconic rolling hills of Hobbiton were given a lived-in effect, which Mr Massey explains were “not manicured in any way whatsoever.”

Listen to the full interview with Brian Massey above. This interview originally aired on July 18, 2017.

Home and Garden with Tony Murrell, 7am - 10am Saturday and Sunday mornings on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.