Sunday, March 10, 2002
There and back again – a journey to middle earth Part X - Xoanon @ 19:30 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 tenth installment.

Feb 27th

Today we hooked up with a local guide, Mike (you may have seen an article on TORN a bit ago about him, he was an Uruk-Hai). We started out at Kelvin Heights Deer Park. It is a pretty popular place for filming, since it is easy to get to, has a large expanse of dramatic looking, natural hillside, and fantastic mountains all around (Disney has filmed there as well as others from around the world). The owner led us around and pointed to various spots where filming was done for LOTR. There are many areas where they staged battles, or just had the fellowship tromping through. Mike had been roaming around up there as well and had discovered the lake that Gandalf rides past on his way to the white city after he leaves the long expected birthday party. I didn’t manage to get around the lake to get the correct angle, but I could definitely tell it was the right place.

The owner showed us another area that he knew they had filmed at, though he wasn’t sure what had been shot there. After looking at the rock structure and the background for a bit, Mike and I determined it was that little hillock that they used in the first preview where you see the whole fellowship come up to it one by one. Pretty nifty. The other thing that is really swell about the deer park (other than the animals of course) is that the top of it gives you a fantastic view of Queenstown and the surrounding area. We took off for Closeburn to see another filming location. Since Mike was in the scene where Aragon first met the Uruk-Hai at Amon Hen, he could take us to the exact spot where it was filmed. We found a few remnants of the platform with the stairs and statue that Frodo runs to after Boromir succumbs to the ring. The view is gorgeous and must have been even more stunning with the statues there. Mike told us stories about being an Uruk-Hai in the heat and getting to watch Peter Jackson, as well as Elijah and Viggo, at work.

We spent the afternoon on the Dart River Jet Safari. It starts out from Glenorchy, where you can visit the café where the stars ate. Then you take a jet boat up the Dart River for a fun 75-minute ride. The scenery is gorgeous and off to the side you can see Paradise Valley (part of a large national park) where they filmed Isengard, Lothlorien and some other scenes, including Boromir’s final battle. The trip up the river was stunningly gorgeous. They drop you inside the national park, where you take an easy 20-minute walk back to a bus, which drives you back to Glenorchy. As I walked through the forest, I kept expecting to kind an Uruk-Hai around the next bend! As we rode back through Paradise Valley, Mike pointed out the side of the bus to the forest past a paddock and said that was where Boromir was killed (he was there the day that scene was filmed too).

Lothlorien was also filmed in that same forest in a different spot. We spent the evening wandering around Queenstown’s picturesque waterfront and buying souvenirs as our trip is almost over.

Tomorrow – a quick raft ride, then back to Christchurch