Here’s another trip update from Arwen as she travels with the tour group from Middle-earth Network’s A Long Expected Journey to New Zealand!
Tuesday in Wellington was filled with the most “ooooooh!” s and “awwwwww!” s I’ve ever heard in my life.
We struck out for our first LOTR location early in the morning, eager to see the sights with our own eyes. But before we got to the spot, we took a sight detour to peek at Mount Victoria, which rests above the heart of Wellington. Looking out from its height, you could see the back of the Embassy Theatre, Te Papa Museum, and the tops of the ‘Hobbit Artisan Market’ tents. The water here in New Zealand is a beautiful turquoise and, with the bright clear blue sky above, the sight was utterly breathtaking.
From Mount Victoria, we moved on to one of the most iconic filming locations which also happened to be the very first scene ever shot for LOTR, the “Get off the road! Quick!” scene. Of course, the tree and roots that the four Hobbits hide under from the Black Rider weren’t there, as it was a prop the crew had to bring in, but the ditch was there and we had tons of fun posing as the Hobbits did.
Further down a steeper slope sits the tree that Frodo sat in, smoking his pipe. That too, endured our fandom while we all climbed up and posed for photos.
After that, we headed to a very beautiful spot lying along the highway headed out of downtown Wellington that was used to film the Anduin River. It had a beautiful rocky shore and, as I mentioned before, because our tour bus carries it’s own tea, coffee, and biscuits (cookies), I was able to enjoy a hot cup of tea (and a biscuit or two) in the nice warm sun, sitting on the banks of the Anduin. Can it get any better??
It did. From there we headed over the hills to one of the most lovely private estates I’ve ever had the privileged to tour. And a privilege it was, as Fernside Lodge has restricted access, so not everyone can get in. But our tour did, and not only were we able to tour the grounds, but we were also able to enjoy a picnic lunch on it’s beautiful lawns.
If you’re thinking, “Yeah, so what? I’ve been to all kinds of tours like that, what’s the big deal?” Well, let me explain. This estate owns the pond and white bridge where Galadriel bid the Fellowship farewell on their journey from the shores of Lothlorien, the Gladden fields shots, and the spot where Smeagol kills Deagol and claims the ring. So, no. Not just any estate with some gardens. The grounds are immaculate, and I can’t thank the owners enough for lettings our group enjoy them.
Our tour group mascott was also crowned on the grounds. The family’s new puppy, Fergus, a great big Scottish Deerhound, won all our hearts, even those who aren’t dog lovers, so that says a lot. We enjoyed his company so much, we filmed him for you all, a star in his own right. Fergus, you rock.
Even though none of us wanted to leave Lothlorien (as I’m sure the Fellowship felt as well), we had Rivendell, the Ford of Isen, and the gardens of Isengard in front of us, all of them just as breathtaking.
One thing before I end this post, props to New Zealand for having “fox lines” (zip lines) as part of their playground equipment. Waaaaaaaay too much fun.
Click here for Arwen’s last post from Middle-earth – Weta, Windows, and Wellington