3 exclusive sneak-peek pics of The Hobbit's Middle-earth sets

Hidden on a remote sheep farm on the North Island of New Zealand, the Hobbiton movie set was recently entirely re-created for production of The Hobbit, after having been demolished when filming of Lord of the Rings wrapped up. Check out three photos taken during a guided tour of the set after primary shooting at the location was completed.

The Shire was meticulously reconstructed, including dozens of unique hobbit homes, gardens, lanes, road signs ... even the gardening tools and tiny chairs, which sit right where the hobbit actors left them.

The first photo shows Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins, which features prominently in the beginning of the Hobbit book and The Fellowship of the Ring.

Fans will recognize Sam Gamgee's house, with notable differences in the garden. Sam is not expected to be in residence for the new movies.

The third photo shows the lush Hobbiton landscape, with hobbit holes set on a lake underneath the Party Tree. Bag End sits on the distant hill in the center.

The Hobbiton movie set is open to the public for guided tours in Matamata, New Zealand, when filming is not in session.

Directed by Lord of the Rings alum Peter Jackson, the two-part Hobbit film project is a prequel to LOTR, based on the acclaimed J.R.R. Tolkien book of the same name. The first installment, An Unexpected Journey, opens on Dec. 14, with the premiere expected to take place in Wellington, New Zealand.

—Adam Bray
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