The Hobbit has run into a major setback only five weeks into production! Mt Ngauruhoe took center stage in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy as a smouldering Mt Doom.
The NZ Herald is reporting that local Maori are set to put their foot down and refuse permission for the Jackson to use the central North Island mountains again, because the iwi consider them sacred.
This is a major issue because in The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins and his entourage journey through the Misty Mountains on their way to confront the dragon Smaug at the Lonely Mountain.
All is not completely lost, the production can still use Mt Taranaki and the Southern Alps. Location scouts have visited Taranaki, and it's reported that Jackson has flown into Queenstown recently to inspect the mountain-ringed Lake Wanaka.
This is the most recent setback to the many setbacks of production that is being called the "Curse of the Hobbit". This prompted actor Martin Freeman to joke about the delays this week saying, "There are some bits of bad luck associated with it. We're ready to go - just as soon as 2015 comes around."
Two filming locations have been confirmed by the film's production: the Stone Street studios in Wellington, and Hobbiton in the Waikato town of Matamata.
The Department of Conservation reports that it has also received an application to film at the Aratiatia Rapids, above Taupo's Huka Falls. The rapids may be used as the Forest River, which Bilbo and his dwarf friends floated down on wine barrels to escape the elves of Mirkwood. Location scouts have also visited Wanaka, Taranaki and the Ruapehu district.
I am still extremely excited about this film. What are your thoughts on this news? Will Mt. Doom work if another mountain range is used?
Here is a statement from production:
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Peter Jackson's production company has been allowed to divert water from a Waikato stream to create the lush green pastures of Middle Earth - in the middle of a hot New Zealand summer.
Environment Waikato, the regional council, has granted consent for 3foot7 Ltd to take up to 890cu m of water a day from a lake and stream in the Hinuera Valley, near Matamata.
It will be used to irrigate 4ha of land planted on the Hobbiton set - the home from which Bilbo Baggins will set out on his quest in The Hobbit.
This will give a rich green appearance to Hobbiton, reminiscent of Tolkien's beloved English countryside.