Gatehouse attracts tourists
Fifteen years ago Sir Peter Jackson flew over the outskirts of Matamata and found his perfect Shire at the Alexander Farm on Buckland Rd.
Academy award winning art director Dan Hennah was there with him.
‘‘When I came here in 1998, this town wasn’t vibrant. Believe me Matamata didn’t have that on its own – most rural towns were like that back then,’’ Mr Hennah said.
‘‘ Now, Matamata is a destination town. People come from Auckland and instead of going straight to Rotorua they stop in here.’’
Hobbiton and Matamata’s association with the Lord of the Rings trilogy has paid dividends for the tourism industry in Matamata as has the redesign of the Matamata i-SITE Gatehouse, Mr Hennah said.
‘‘This is Matamata’s point of difference. It now has a statement.’’
Matamata i- SITE Gatehouse manager Sue Whiting said the Gatehouse has definitely achieved its goal, which was to stop traffic.
‘‘Now we have to look at an extension because there simply isn’t enough room for all the people who are coming through the doors,’’ she said.
And that’s what brought Mr Hennah and his wife Chris to Matamata before they headed to the United States for a number of awards ceremonies including the Golden Globes and the Academy Award nominees gathering.
‘‘Along with Brian Massey we came up with the design for the i-SITE Gatehouse, so now we will look at what we can do to extend it,’’ he said. ‘‘I always enjoy coming back here (to Matamata). I have a soft spot for this place.’’