MATAMATA, NEW ZEALAND – A group of students from the United States started out a summer of intern work and study in New Zealand by visiting Hobbiton, the set of the Hobbit village in New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. “The tour was awesome,” said Lisa Dunham, an engineering student at the University of Washington. “It made me feel better about paying the price for the tour when I found that most of the money went to the family that owned the property and the community, which is employed at the attraction.” According to tour guides, the original Hobbiton set was due to be destroyed per contract, but the weather was so bad the work could not be completed. The community asked New Line Cinemas if instead of destroying the prop buildings, the locals could keep them and turn the set into a tourist destination. After negotiations, a deal was reached. “The village is almost surreal, it is so picture perfect,” said Dunham. “There are hobbit holes of different sizes for perspective purposes. Each hobbit hole has the traces of the hobbit that lives in it and their profession.” The village opened to the public in 2008, five years after the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released. The set was also upgraded and used for the filming of the Hobbit trilogy in 2011. Visitors can book a tour in advance by going to hobbitontours.com.