Shall we just quickly address the elephant in the room? Yes, we’ve been away and no, we won’t be sharing the details of our previous trip on our social media as it was purely a trip to visit family. Yes, Kelly did get the dreaded lurgy on the plane home from a devil child and yes, we’ve been very lazy updating our site since. Here’s hoping we can get back to some level of normality soon.
If you can recall our previous post on our trip in Wellington, you may remember we mentioned we did the Ultimate Movie Tour whilst we were there. The tour is split into four portions and revolves around all things Lord of the Rings. It is as geeky and as awesome as it sounds!
We were collected around the corner from our hostel by our driver and tour guide, Ted. We were driven around in a large mini bus that had had a TV added to the back so that Ted could play clips from the movies as we approached each location. It was really great to see what was actually used for the final movies versus what they were actually working with.
Our first stop was Dry Creek Quarry, which was used for Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers and then converted to Minas Tirith for Return of the King. The set no longer exists, it’s a working quarry after all, but with the use of screenshots from the movies and press shots during the building process, Ted made it really easy to be able to visualise what had been there.
We all piled back into the bus and headed on to our next destination, Harcourt Park. The park was used to film the scenes where Gandalf meets with Saruman to discuss the newly discovered ring whilst walking through the gardens of Isengard. It was possible to still see the path that Gandalf rides down, even though it’s been laid back to lawn, and we also got to act out the famous walking scene. It was great fun pretending to be wizards in the middle of a public park!
Our next stop was on the shores of the Hutt River to re-enact the scene where Aragorn drifts ashore after his encounter with Sharku and the Warg-Riders and his horse nudges him awake.
We drove on to Kaitoke National Park next and stopped for some lunch. Lunch was included in our ticket price and was made up of a whole host of Subway sandwiches, tasty cakes and a variety of beverages. There was more than enough food for our whole group.
The park was the site of Rivendell and it’s actually signposted as such in places. There are various Lord of the Rings markers with different fun facts and on the site of Rivendell itself is a recreation of the archway the fellowship walk through at the end of the first movie, The Fellowship of The Ring.
A number of press shots of Legolas were also taken in the area, so Anthony decided to don cape, ears and wig and do his best elf-like pout. I’m sure you’ll agree, he’s a natural!
After this, we had a little time to explore the park. We did a quick walking trail that took in the river, a great swing bridge and a good chunk of rainforest.
We collected a few more people before our next stop which took in a number of locations around Mount Victoria. We were able to re-enact Frodo and Sam’s relaxing night in the forest, enjoying a fry up and a pipe. We even joined forces with other members of our group to re-capture the “Shortcut to Mushrooms”, “Get Off the Road” and “Race to the Ferry” scenes from the first movie. It was great that our group were willing to muck in and have fun. It would have been a different experience if no-one else would have joined in.
The next portion of the tour was a driving tour around Miramar to take in the studios and various different related buildings.
We then went to Weta Cave, an opportunity to purchase movie memorabilia and to see a large collection of movie paraphernalia. After this, we were taken on a tour of the Workshop itself. We learnt about how the various props and costumes went from concept to manufacture. We even got to handle a number of items that were used on a variety of films, not just Lord of the Rings. It was a great opportunity to be able to see these items up close as well as speak to the artists and sculptures themselves about their work.
Finally, on our way back into Wellington we stopped by the studio to see the world’s largest green screen. Apparently they are currently filming Ghost in the Shell but unfortunately for Anthony, we didn’t get to see Scarlett Johansson despite Ted’s assurances that she was in the city currently working.
Overall, we had a wonderful day and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Whilst the tour was a little more costly than we had hoped, it was worth it to us to be able to see the various different locations we wouldn’t have been able to get to otherwise as well as being able to go to Weta Cave and Workshop. Of course, it does take a little bit of imagination to appreciate the tour since the sets are no longer there but we didn’t see this as an issue.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our video of the tour here. Unfortunately we weren’t able to film everything but you’ll get to join in on most of the fun.