Fellow nerds, read on. If you aren’t a huge Lord of the Rings geek though, this post may bore you to pieces.
The Extended Edition tour with Flat Earth was the best guided Lord of the Rings scene location tour that I’ve done in my whole time here. My guide was clearly just as excited as I was to be there and she was also obsessed with the movies, which made our tour really enjoyable. That, and she played the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit soundtrack music while we drove in the van between locations. What a great idea for road trips!
Our first stop of the day was along the Hut River, which was used to film most of the Great River Anduin and the close-up shots of the fellowship, minus Gandalf, in the boats after leaving Lothlorien. Fun fact: they had to flip the close-up shots of Boromir to look like they were in a canyon. They also used this river (not this exact location, but further upstream) to film the scenes where Aragorn washes up on shore after the warg attack, and where Faramir watches dead Boromir float by in the elven boat (a scene from the Extended Editions).
Then we went to Harcourt Park, or, the gardens of Isengard.
And then we went to Kaitoke Regional Park to see Rivendell! Without the help of our guide and the signs posted around the trail, you would have no clue that they even filmed there. When they came to build the set, any plants that they removed were kept in a greenhouse down the road and numbered so that they could place it back where it came from when they took down the set.
Then we drove over the mountains to the Wairarapa Valley region to visit the next location where they filmed the Lothlorien water scenes from the Fellowship of the Ring, as well as the Smeagol/Deagol Gladden Fields scene from the beginning of the Return of the King.
On our way back to Wellington we stopped outside of the Dry Creek Quarry. Peter Jackson rented out this quarry for a whole year so that they could build sets for Helms Deep and Minas Tirith. It is actually a working quarry so we couldn’t go inside or get any closer, but there’s nothing there anymore to see anyway.
Back in Welly, we drove up to Mt Victoria, which they used for over one hundred shots and scenes in the movies. There was no time to find them all, but we did see where the hobbits take a tumble after being chased by Farmer Maggot, find the mushrooms and then Frodo yells, “Get off the road!” Of course, the tree in the movie was fake—but there’s still a well-worn spot where you can pretend to hide from the black rider.
After a long day, we ended with a tour of Weta Workshop to see the actual props used in the movies as well as props that were made for other movies as well. (I got to hold a gun from District 9!) It was also cool to see them actively working on miniature sets and creating molds for what I’m assuming is a prop that will be used in James Cameron’s Avatar 2, 3 or 4. (The window was darkened so that we couldn’t see much, but I have my suspicions…)
It was fun, it was interesting, it was magical. I am so glad I did this tour. It was pricey and I had my doubts at first, but in the end I was overwhelmed with how awesome everything was.
As the Kiwis say, “Sweet as!”