While some Tolkien fans might have been worrying about the prospect of the new The Hobbit adaptation turning into a rudderless ship in the aftermath of the departure of Guillermo Del Toro, it seems the production doesnt need a director in place to have its wheels set firmly in motion and already building up a head of steam.

German fan-site Herr-Der-Ringe-Film.de have posted photos taken in New Zealand in May of the film’s set, whose construction, even back then was well under way, with some of the hobbit-holes of Bagend looking near completion.

Nice, though not exactly surprising, to see that the set remains in-line with Peter Jackson’s original artistic vision for the Shire from the LOTR trilogy (and indeed Tolkien’s own texts), though more hardcore fans will no doubt be able to spot subtle differences in the buildings (mostly in terms of colour).

While the images were taken before Del Toro’s departure, and are not perhaps a true indcation of exactly where the set is right now in terms of construction, they do give an interesting insight into how far the production has come so far. With the announcement by theonering.net that they have insider knowledge that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp will be taking the reigns,hopefully it wont be too long before we have some casting news to go along with these images.

Head over the HDRF for further images. The site is in German, and you’ll have to forgive the woefully comical Google translation is you cant read the language comfortably, but the images themselves tell enough of a story to make the trip worthwhile.