Wednesday, February 27, 2002
There and back again – a journey to middle earth Part IV - Xoanon @ 19:28 PST
There and back again – a journey to middle earth

I thought I would share with my experience on the Red Carpet Movie Tour’s LOTR ultimate fantasy 12-day tour ( I’m on a small VIP tour of travel agents. I’ll send in updates as time and connectivity permit. This is the fourth installment.

Feb 21st

The day started out perfectly when I woke up in The Hobbit Lodge, in Ohakune. I can’t possibly rave enough about this rustic little motel. The owner is the picture of hobbit hospitality, generous, kind and helpful. I started the day in good hobbit fashion, with eggs, toast, tomatoes and nice crispy bacon, hold the Ring Wraiths, they came later. We took off towards Wellington. On the way, we stopped by the Rangitikei River, part of which was used for some scenes on the River Anduin.

Then we were off to the horse ranch that Chris and his wife Donna own. Their ranch was horse central for the film. Many of their horses were used in the film, and most of the main horses were housed at the ranch during filming. They also helped trained the horses and actors in the movies, which is no small feat. The actors need to be trained in riding, and the horses not only need to be able to do the right thing on camera, but they also need to be introduced to all the frightening things (to a horse anyway) that take place during a shoot. They have a lot of beautiful horses on the ranch, including some that were used in the movie. Chris and one of his head ranch hands, Jay, were both stunt riders as Ring Wraiths. As a matter of fact, Chris was the lead rider. Their friend Jane did the stunt riding for Arwen in the dramatic chase to the river, and she owns the horse that was used as well. We got to meet all of them – what a day!

After leaving the ranch, we drove to Wellington. Since I am on a special tour, I had the privilege of tagging along when one of my fellow travelers went to meet the honorable Pete Hodgson, the minister that is involved with LOTR promotion and development (for example it is his office that is involved with the negotiations on a LOTR museum, and it is his office that puts out ads that say “welcome to New Zealand, the home of middle earth.” Of course he does all kinds of other non-LOTR things, including some cool stuff with NZ industry, and NZ exports). I was introduced as the first official LOTR tourist, and he shook my hand warmly. He is a charming man, and very knowledgeable. He had several WETA workshop statues in his office. He said that he had been giving them out as special ministry gifts to certain individuals. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify. Never the less it was an honor and a pleasure to meet him.

Tomorrow – Rivendell, Helms Deep, and Minas Tirith.