Wed known for a while that some helicopters had
been wanted to take the crew and actors out to a place called Port Waikato,
and that the reason for that was that Weathertop was to be found around there
somewhere. A look on the map revealed that there were the intriguingly-named
Limestone Downs in that area, as well as the mouth of the Waikato,
NZs largest river. I wanted to see if the area would yield a likely
backdrop for the Grey Havens too. Thorongils visit to explore NZ proved
a perfect opportunity to scout around.
Port Waikato wouldnt make any kind of a Grey Haven,
we decided when we arrived. Its pretty in an undramatic sort of way.
Green rolling hills, kids playing round on a wooden jetty, a sandy tidal estuary,
lots of fishing.
We asked the locals at Port Waikato what they knew about the
They said Peter Jackson, the hobbits, and (they thought)
Aragorn had been there briefly.
All they could tell us was that the crew had come out for a
short time to use a strange mushroom-shaped rock on some farmers land. The
rock was as big as a house, apparently.
Filming took place during the day, I believe. How that all
ties in with the set weve seen in the preview, with the ruined pillars and
so on, I dont know. It looks like they might have filmed the hobbits and
Strider before they found their campsite or the ruins on the hilltop, and before
it got dark.. Nobody we spoke to thought there was any set built out on the farm,
so perhaps the landscape was used as the Weather Hills and the party was filmed
approaching Weathertop during the day.
We rang the farmer. He said wed need a four-wheel-drive
farmbike to reach the place, or it was an hour and a halfs walk, and he
wasnt keen to have us there, so we left it. We did drive to the area and
take some photos of the weird limestone outcroppings we saw. Maybe theyll
turn up in the background to some shots.
Shortly after admiring the contains many hazards
sign I walked over some flat grassy ground to take a photo and fell straight into
a series of concealed sinkholes. Thats typical limestone country, I guess.