And so begins our Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand! Our tour started with 16 people and our guide, Julie.
Sorry I’ve become so slow (I’ll be back home by the time I post this), I got into a very important race with Talia to see who could read the Fellowship of the Ring faster and then I was so hype I rolled right on into the Two Towers.
Also, I hope you enjoy the Tolkien and Lord of the Rings movie quotes I’ve put with each day. I tried to make them applicable to what we did that day. You could possibly call it procrastination from actually writing.
Sunday 6/4 – “The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.”
Travel from Australia to Auckland! Our plane from Cairns was delayed because the system was down, so we didn’t get to Auckland until bedtime.
Monday 6/5 – “I am no man.”
We had a free day before our tour welcome dinner, so we went to see Wonder Woman! 10/10 I can’t wait to see it many many more times. We didn’t do much else today, just relaxed then met our group for a welcome meeting then dinner at the hotel.
Tuesday 6/6 – “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit…”
Today we all at some point asked the same question, can it get any better than this? Why, you ask? Because we started our tour with Hobbiton. It’s such a precious place, and even though it’s winter here, Hobbiton is apparently untouched and as green as you can imagine. We had a tour of Hobbiton, then had lunch in the party tent.
Our hotel for the night was in Rotorua, where we went to a show and dinner at the Mitai Maori Village. We were shown several of their dances and traditions as well as a demonstration of some instruments.
After dinner, we went on a night walk and saw some glow worms and nocturnal kiwi birds. We also got to see the Southern Cross in the sky, none of my family has been to the Southern Hemisphere before so it’s really neat seeing a different set of stars.
Wednesday 6/7 – “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”
This morning we visited the farm that was used as Trollshaw Forest in The Hobbit. We had a tour of all the areas that were used by the film crew, and learned a lot about what goes on during filming from the owners.
On the drive to Rotorua, I started reading the Fellowship of the Ring, which as you know started a whole big thing and caused me to not keep up with anything else.
In Rotorua we visited Mount Ruapehu, which was used as parts of Mordor and Mount Doom (long shots of mount doom were Mount Ngauruhoe). We recreated a scene and a few shots from the film, using Julie’s endless supply of Lord of the Rings props.
Thursday 6/8 – “There is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
This morning we went back to Mount Ruapehu, a different section where they filmed the scenes for the entrance to Erebor (The Hobbit trilogy). Nearby, we recreated a scene from The Two Towers where Gollum is fishing in a river.
We spent the rest of the day driving to Wellington.
Friday 6/9 – “Get off the road!”
For our first day in Wellington, we toured Weta Workshop. We couldn’t take any pictures, but we saw a ton of props used in the Lord of the Rings movies as well as others done by Weta.
We had lunch at Richard Taylor’s theater, the Roxy then headed out to a park where some scenes were filmed. we recreated the “Get off the road!” scene from Fellowship, then took photos in a tree that was used for a shot of Sam and Frodo. In the evening, mom went to a party where she met Royd Tolkien and Richard Taylor while Talia and I went to see Wonder Woman (again) at Peter Jackson’s theater.
Saturday 6/10 – “A boy… who spent many hours slaying dragons instead of attending to his studies.”
We spent most of today in the hotel. In the morning we met Jed Brophy and heard his stories of filming the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. Most of Jed’s work was with the horses for the original trilogy, and we learned a lot of cool things about the horses of Lord of the Rings.
He played a host of characters in Lord of the Rings including Snaga, the orc that sent Aragorn over the cliff, a black rider for the Arwen chase scene, two riders of Rohan, a rider of Gondor, and a female elf when Arwen is going to the grey havens. He also played Nori in the Hobbit movies. He also has two sons who played Aragorn’s son in Arwen’s vision and Merry’s scale double.
In the afternoon, Daniel Reeve visited us and told us about all his work in the movies. He did all the calligraphy, map making, drawing, and paintings that were seen in the movies. Most things, he had to make two versions – one normal sized, and one scaled down for when Gandalf was holding Hobbit items.
I bought a map of Middle Earth which Daniel kindly signed and wrote a quote on it for me. Talia and Mom each got prints of paintings he has done that he wrote on too.
Sunday 6/11 – “Don’t be hasty!”
This morning we were visited by two Weta employees Matt and Reece. Reece has been making chain mail for years and years and told us about the different types and how he makes them.
Matt told us about his work on sculptures at Weta then gave us a mini sculpture class with “soft” clay he brought for us. You can see my expert dragon below. Weta feel free to call me with a job offer at any time.
Mom, Talia, and I went to the Wellington Zoo in the afternoon. It had a nice layout and got to hear the male lions roar at sunset. We also took pictures on the dragon sculpture Matt helped make.
We took an Uber back to the hotel and what do you know our driver had been the driver for the actor who played Balin in the Hobbit (for 3 years!). It really is a small country!
Monday 6/12 – “I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.”
We left Wellington early this morning and took a 3 hour ferry to the South Island. We then took a bus for about an hour where I finished reading the Fellowship of the Ring (I won by the way).
We then took blow up two person kayaks (which as far as I can tell are just canoes???) down the river they filmed some of the barrel riding scenes in (Hobbit).
From there, it was a short drive to Nelson, the location of our first South Island hotel. I’ll cover the South Island in the next post.