From Taihape we drove to Wellington with stops in Napier, Otaki, Plimmerton and Paraparaumu. We stayed in Wellington for a while, and because we had time, we decided to book one of those movie tours they do, where they take you to visit different filming locations. So not only were we sure to be at the right place (sometimes it’s hard to tell), but we were not alone in fangirling/-boying about them. And they had props so we could re-make some of the scenes, which was awesome.
We started on a quarry outside of Wellington, where the guides told us they had built – and I mean built – the sets of both Minas Tirith and Helm’s Deep. Those fantastic sets, all torn down when they were done. I guess it wasn’t all too good for traffic that people kept crashing their cars cause they were too busy looking at the huge white city being built or the impressive stone wall and castle of Helm’s Deep coming out of thin air. Here’s both a picture of what it looks like in the movies, and then what it looks like in real life. I think that was the biggest disappointment I felt in all of New Zealand (of course I knew that they hadn’t kept the sets built up, but still. I wish they had, I guess).
We then got to Isengard, located in a park whose name I seem to have quite forgotten, silly me. Orthanc was always nothing but bluescreen, sadly, so there’s no huge black building towering over the park – sucks. The gardens surrounding Orthanc, where Gandalf the Gray and Saruman the White are taking a stroll to talk about the One Ring and the return of Sauron, were almost recognizable. There was a bench that didn’t belong there, though, so they cut that out in the movie. Now, let me just take a minute or two here to thank Sir Christopher Lee for all his work and wish him a blistful Afterlife; he will be greatly missed, and always remembered. Rest In Peace, Sir.
Back to happier things. From Isengard we drove to the Anduin, where Aragorn, after falling off the cliff during the attack of the Wargs in The Two Towers, is woken up by the horse Brego. There’s not that much to see; there is neither an Aragorn not a horse, sadly. And, fun fact, the river flows in the wrong direction in the movie – they shot that scene at two different locations, and apparently missed that river number 1 was flowing in the opposite direction as river number 2.
After that, off we were to Rivendell, which was, when they shot the movie, actually built. So there was a set, a beautiful, fully detailed set, and those idjits just went and tore it down once they were done filming! Can you believe that? I get that they had to for whatever reasons the Kaitoke Regional Park made them, but come on! Now there’s just trees and a couple of boards telling you what beautiful building or statue once stood there. Anyway, the tour guides had a wig and bow and arrow, plus cloak and elf-ears for whoever felt like it to try on and pretend to be Orlando Bloom doing a promotional shot as Legolas for The Fellowship Of The Ring. Frodo did it, and those pictures are going to haunt her for the rest of her life – she looked ridiculous but awesome, so I will make sure to take every opportunity to show those pictures. So here you go (sorry, Frodo).
We then left Imladris and drove to Mount Victoria in Wellington, where they shot several scenes, the first one being Frodo and Sam after leaving the Shire, with Frodo smoaking pipe lying on the branch of a tree and Sam cooking, while also smoaking his pipe.
Next scene: a shortcut to mushrooms. You know, where Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin tumble down the hill and end up on the road and find mushrooms.
And then, only a couple of meters away from that, that “get off the road! Quick!” from Frodo, which they shot so that you almost felt like you were getting sucked into the screen. One of the Black Riders stops just next to the Hobbits’ hideaway, and all these insects starts crowling out from everywhere, fleeing from him. Yeah, we did that scene too. But, because there was no actual tree there, Frodo played tree.
The last scene they shot there was the one where you see one of the Ringwraiths in the distance, up a hill. Frodo and two other people from our group re-did that scene as well, with Frodo being the head of the horse. That was fun.
We then proceeded to end our tour at the Weta Cave, one of the most awesome and most dangerous places in all of Wellington – or New Zealand, even. Awesome because they have all these props and jewelry and books and stuff, and dangerous because, well, they sell that stuff. The entrance alone to the Cave is worth visiting, with the three trolls standing there after being turned into stone; it’s amazing. The people working at Weta are like gods, it’s incredible. The things they can do! The things they did do!
And that was that. It was an awesome day, and if you find yourself near Wellington and have about 130 NZ$ to spare, that tour is worth the money. I mean, it’s Lord Of The Rings, hello?