I picked this article up over at Ringbearer.
Filming of wide panoramic scenes started on Wednesday December 8th, in the rolling North Island farmland between Matatmata and Karapiro.
Filming on the fourth LOR set commenced on Wednesday, while crews continued to work at the three other sets (two in the Queenstown/Te Anau area and the other in Wellington).
The countryside in this mid-North Island region is primarily rolling farmland, with a few more rugged hills and is famous for it’s horse raising. It’s bounded by an area of peat bog to the north and the long, narrow Lake Karapiro to the south.
Co-director John Mahaffie (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) said stand-in actors would be used for the stars as the shots were to be “wide, establishing the Hobbiton environment.”
Associate producer Rick Porrs said the brilliant weather was an exciting start to the shoot. “As the light drops, the way this tall grass shimmers – you just can’t beat this anywhere.”
Director Peter Jackson, currently overseeing the shoot through satellite link, is expected on-site next month.