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The Hobbit Riddle in Otago

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Here’s a riddle for you: What is happening in Strath Taieri and Maniototo that everyone knows about, but no one can talk about? I won’t keep you guessing…

Trailers, helicopters, and most tellingly, signs from Peter Jackson’s film company 3 Foot 7 Ltd. have invaded the local landscape. But when asked about it, the locals simply respond that they “don’t know” or “can’t say” anything about it. Barry Williams, chairman on the Strath Taieri Community Board, said that though the filming of The Hobbit films was supposed to be secret, it was “pretty well known [as] they are all over the show.”

Ngaire Sutherland, who owns the Otago Central Hotel, stated that she was “sworn to secrecy,” but did mention that some people involved with the films were staying at her hotel. Actor James Nesbitt, who plays the dwarf Bofur, is staying in nearby Naseby. Kirsty Sloan, of the Royal Hotel, called Nesbitt the “biggest name” in town, but said, “We had a lot of them eating and drinking with us.” She could not say where any of the other stars were staying.

Crew began arriving in the area last Thursday, and a “base camp” of trailers and a giant marquee, complete with security guards, was established on private land near Hyde. Though filming had been delayed by rain, the film crew was expected to pack up and move on to other locations as soon as today.

For photos and the original story, please visit The Otago Daily Times.

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