LoTR – real world pics

I meant to post this a few weeks ago, 10 years after I took a trip to New Zealand and managed to visit a few movie locations. I forgot until today and was reminded because some friends posted other pics on Facebook as a #TBT.

A little over 10 years ago, in Nov 2004, I had the chance to travel to New Zealand with two friends. It was a great trip overall, with tons of great memories.

We started planning the trip months in advance, and being an enormous Lord of the Rings fan, I bought the Lord of the Rings Guidebook with the hope I’d get a chance to get a tour in somewhere. I definitely wanted to do it, but I was also touring with my friends and knew that we might not have full agreement or even have time to squeeze it in.

To sum it up, I got a chance to spend an afternoon in Wellington looking for various locations, and later in Queenstown, got to take a “Lord of the Rings” tour. At the time, I wasn’t even playing any MMOs; I had stopped Asheron’s Call nearly 2 years earlier, and had yet to start Guild Wars (I think its release was still a few months away). WoW hadn’t even been released, but that was just days away – in fact it released while I was touring. I visited some friends in New Zealand who showed me the game during the first week it was out, but I didn’t wind up trying it until summer 2007, when I also picked up LoTRO.

Anyway, here are some Lord of the Rings related pics I took while I was there 10 years ago.

Reaching for the Ring
Reaching for the Ring
Nazgûl path
Nazgûl path

This spot on path in a park in Wellington, as far as I could determine given my GPS accuracy, etc. is where the hobbits hid from the Nazgûl. Basically just off the path served as the location. I had a tough time navigating to the “exact” location due to bouncy GPS readings, and unfortunately is was getting late so I had to hurry to beat sundown.

Tour Vehicles
Tour Vehicles

Later outside Queenstown, I took a guided tour to various shooting locations. I rode in the Arwen jeep and this was a tour where I knew more than the guide about the lore of the movies. 🙂

Ford of Bruinen
Ford of Bruinen

This unassuming river (stream…) served as the Ford of Bruinen for the movies. One thing to keep in mind is the amount of post-processing done in a modern movie. According to the guide and the book, principal shooting was done here, and later various digital effects added (foreground, background, etc) so it doesn’t resemble the final product in the movie. Which is good because I didn’t want to be swept away by Elrond invoking the power of Vilya.

Gladden Fields
Gladden Fields

Here is where Isildur was ambushed by Orcs and lost the Ring into a river.

We also saw some mountains that appeared as various background shots, as well as the formation that was used for the Argonath. That one was interesting in that much like the Ford of Bruinen, the filming location was digitally edited to add in the Pillars of the Kings monuments.

Anyway, it was a great vacation in general, and for me in particular the Lord of the Rings tour was a highlight. If I return to New Zealand, I’d like to take other ones. Queenstown alone had ~3 location tours (of which I only had time to take one). The North island had some filming locations too: Lake Taupo and surroundings (Mount Doom and Mordor) as well as Matamata (Hobbiton set); I was fortunate to have some time in Wellington to see some of the film locations in that area but didn’t get to tour Weta Studios. Now there might be a few newer things to see because of the Hobbit trilogy – I see there is a new Hobbit Guidebook!

Maybe I’ll get a chance to return and if so, I will definitely make a point to take more LoTR/Hobbit tours. 😉

Hope you enjoyed the pics!

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