2-22-02 Latest News

There and back again — a journey to middle earth
Calisuri @ 2:44 am EST

I thought I would share with theonering.net my experience on the Red Carpet Movie Tour’s LOTR ultimate fantasy 12-day tour (http://www.redcarpet-tours.com). I’m on a small VIP tour of travel agents. I’ll send in updates as time and connectivity permit. This is the second installment. (Read the first installment here)

Feb 19th
We started out early on a beautiful sunny morning. We headed off to Matamata. Matamata is a fairly small town in NZ’s dairy country that also specializes in raising thoroughbred racehorses. Now they have another claim to fame, they are the closest town to the farm that became the shire. When you enter town, there is a sign that proclaims just that:

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We stopped and took pictures of the sign and the quaint main street around it. Then we piled back into our minivan, and headed for the actual farm. Red Carpet is one of the few tours that are allowed onto the farm where the filming took place. Unfortunately, do to some legal issues, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures, but it was a fantastic experience all the same. First off the farm is beautiful in and of itself. It is a sheep farm, and picturesque flocks graze on rolling hills. You have to drive quite a ways into the farm to see the spots where the filming was done. When you get to the spot that was Hobbiton, the landscape is quite recognizable, even without the buildings and bridges. You get to see the pond, and the party tree, and try and imagine a lot of hobbits near them instead of sheep. The party tree is a magnificent feat of nature — huge and old and beautiful. Seeing the spot where they filmed made me appreciate the work of Peter and his amazing team even more. Sure, the land is pretty, but it takes a team with vision and artistry to truly turn it into Middle Earth. On the way back to the main road, I snapped a quick shot of the countryside.

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We had lunch in Rotorua, and headed out for a non-LOTR event. We visited Hell’s Gate, which claims to be the Rotorua’s most active thermal reserve, complete with mud baths. I must say it was pretty cool, lots of steam, lots of sulphur, and even some boiling mud. The sulphur in the steam was so intense, it tarnished all of my silver rings. Pretty amazing demonstration of chemistry and geology at work!

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Some of our party tried the mud baths, and then we headed back to Rotorua for dinner and to sleep for the night.

Tomorrow — Huka Falls, Rangipo plains and Mt Ruapehu — Mordor!