New Zealand 2006: Day 11


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New Zealand 2006: [Day 1: Auckland] [Day 2: Matamata/Waitomo] [Day 3: Waiheke Island] [Day 4: Bungy] [Day 5: Rotorua] [Day 6: Napier] [Day 7: At Sea] [Day 8: Cruising] [Day 9: Dunedin] [Day 10: Christchurch] [Day 11: Wellington] [Day 12: At Sea] [Day 13: Auckland]

Thursday, March 23, 2006: Back on the North Island, our day in Wellington dawned cloudy. It didn't dampen our enthusiasm for the full day Lord of the Rings film set tour we had booked with Wellington Rover Tours.
The tour is called the Ring Rover Tour. Our first stop was the Hutt River, which doubled as the River Anduin. Members of the Fellowship were filmed in elven boats at this location.
Our next spot was Kaitoke Regional Park, which is a rain forest. The rain drops added a touch of sparkle to the flowering trees.
This spot, where two rivers meet, was the location for the Battle at the Fords of Isen.
Just a short walk beyond that is a section of the park that has been officially renamed to "Rivendell." It's on the park signs and everything!
It was here that many of the Rivendell scenes were filmed. This entire area was turned into a set, then dismantled and carefully replanted after filming.
Harcourt Park was the location of Isengard Gardens. If you use your imagination, you can picture Gandalf and Saruman strolling in the gardens here.
Our tour guide, Jack, was incredible. He showed us photos from the movie and behind-the-scenes, and explained to us every detail of what we were seeing around us and how it appeared in the film. I have many more flattering photos of Jack, but this one is a good example of how seeing the movie scene makes it easy to picture where filming took place. The tree to Jack's immediate left is on the right in the bottom photo he is holding.
Our tour took us to the quarry where Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith were filmed, then past several buildings involved in the making of the films, including Camperdown Studios, shown here. If you look closely, you can see an Orc in the window.
Lunch was also a Lord of the Rings destination: the Chocolate Fish cafe, said to be a favorite with the LOTR crew. The food was great and the decor is bright and cheerful.
Because of the rain, we ate inside, but on sunny days, patrons eat at the tables across the street, overlooking the water.
This is the view back across the street to the cafe. After we finished lunch (and picked up a few chocolate fish and a t-shirt), we visited the location of Bree, which is completely unrecognizable now since the set is completely gone and new houses are shooting up all around it.
Our tour continued past the beach where certain Fellowship actors were known to have surfed.
We climbed to the top of Mt. Victoria, where we had brief glimpses of the bay below, in between houses.
Mt Victoria was our final stop of the day, and we were so excited, we couldn't stand it.
Shelob's web? No, sorry. However, the rain and the gloomy weather were just perfect for this particular location.
Yes, this is the very spot where Frodo got tunnel vision when he realized that the Ringwraiths were quickly approaching. He and the other hobbits scrambled off the road and hid beneath the roots of a large tree.
"Get off the road, Orchy!"
Unfortunately, the tree they hid under was trucked in from a different location and mounted several feet above the actual path, so Orchy was not able to recreate that scene for you, Bundlings/LOTR fans, but one look at these spooky trees should give you the urge to get off the road too.
At another location nearby, I thought it was pretty corny that someone put a big plastic toadstool nearby to make it look Lord-of-the-Ringsy. No, it turns out that New Zealand actually grows toadstools this big and this orange naturally. Cool.
This path was used for the Flight to the Ferry scene. Try to picture four Hobbit actors running up this hill for one take after another. This was our final stop of the tour, and we felt it was a day very well spent. We learned more about filmmaking in one day than we had in our entire lives prior to this, and we strongly recommend Wellington Rover Tours.
After reading on Ring Rover's website that they have Hobbit ears available for sale, we knew we had to have some, so we made sure to buy a few pairs before being dropped off at the terminal. Tom looks pretty hot in these, doesn't he?
Back on the ship, we glanced out our stateroom window to see our own personal maritime stalker, MSC Sariska, following us once again. It's over, Sariska. We have a container ship back home that we love more than you. Go home. Wait, no, we didn't mean that, Sariska. We still love you. Can you forgive us?

Day 12 >


New Zealand 2006: [Day 1: Auckland] [Day 2: Matamata/Waitomo] [Day 3: Waiheke Island] [Day 4: Bungy] [Day 5: Rotorua] [Day 6: Napier] [Day 7: At Sea] [Day 8: Cruising] [Day 9: Dunedin] [Day 10: Christchurch] [Day 11: Wellington] [Day 12: At Sea] [Day 13: Auckland]

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