I went on a Lord of the Rings tour today. Warning, I'm about to write out super nerdy facts that will have absolutely NO context of you aren't a fan. You will be bored if you continue, beware. Nerd gets serious here.
When I booked the tour last night I opted for a half day because it's pretty pricy. -"we only have one spot available in a full day, but you can just pay for a half day." Oh, well twist my arm!
The bus pulled up to The Station in town, the guide greeted me, and he immediately started speaking in Elvish. Okay, I immediately got an idea of what the day would be like.
Bob, our guide, reminded me sort of Stan Shunpike, and/or the actor Mackenzie Crook. One of the most enthusiastic beings I've ever met, and he literally knew every single thing about all of Tolkien's work.
Some highlight sites. Again, this is serious nerd stuff, so if all you're seeing is a picture of some water or trees, that's pretty much what it is if you're not a SUPER LotR fan. Which I happen to be, but I'll probably get some names and spellings wrong, for those reading who are even bigger fans than I. Anyway:
Some famous places I didn't get pics of, but maybe when I walk around town tomorrow. Minas Tirith was filmed here on Deer Park Heights, and in the same place is where most of Rohan is shown, and ALSO where Aragorn gets dragged off a cliff. It's really just a huge grassy hill now, but of course I'll still try for a picture.
The Remarkables, a range along Lake Wakatipu here in Queenstown, were used as the slopes of Drimrill Dale. After the Fellowship leaves Moria and into all the snow.
(Left range. I'll get a better one later.)
The Gates of Argonath, featuring the statues of Isildur and his father, Elendil. (These are actually different people than in the book. But I won't go on about it.)
I learned so much technical filming stuff I can't explain it all here, which was the most interesting aspect of this tour. He literally spent twenty minutes explaining how they shot this scene and which clever perspective camera techniques were used. Which parts were computer added, which angle they went at it, what was a prop, and when they used doubles in scenes.
Spooky forest in the movie prologue where Isildur gets killed and loses the ring.
Where he falls to his death in the water, face down with arrows in his back. Kudos to anyone who is still even reading this far.
Peter Jackson is known for his "jokes" which is really just things he finds amusing, and maybe no one else does. He picked this location to film the scenes mainly for the reason that it is in Arrowtown, in a river called Arrow River, and Isildur is killed with...arrows. Yes, we see what you did there, Peter Jackson.
This is where Arwen calls on the rushing water to sweep away the Nazgul and keep Frodo safe.
Yep. A river.
While we hiked to our last spot, someone asked the inevitable question to Bob: "why couldn't the Eagles just drop the hobbits off at Mt Doom so they can throw in the ring?" And yes, using the Silmirilian and years of nerd knowledge, Bob explained why that couldn't have worked. I have no idea how I can prove it to you, just trust me, it was a convincing reason.
Last spot, Oliphant watching! You know the scene...
I sat where Sam and Frodo sat about 16 years ago.
And then I go to PLAY WITH SWORDS!
Official LotR replicas? Yes please.
So now this is me pretty much geeking out in photo form:
Hunting knife Elrond gives Aragorn. This is the one the Orc threw at his face nearing the end of Fellowship. Aragorn knocks it out of the way. The take was an accident and it was actually hurtling toward him, so Viggo literally knocked the knife away from hitting him in the face, which would have been terrible. He really is Aragorn in real life.
I'm a dead Boromir
Then I broke Aragorn's sword
And Gimli's axe
And Legolas' knives when he became too close to use his bow and arrows
In the morning I walked up Queenstown Hill. You can't tell at all, but this is at about an 80 degree angle. On slick frozen mud and stone. Because snow. It was rather terrifying.
The view at the top was worth it.
Then I headed down to the wharf to people watch.
And I had a Ferg Burger! Very famous place. Busy busy. Was delicious and worth the wait. (Tofu!)
Any bookshops who quotes Black Books is a friend of mine.
Pretty old church
I walked and walked until nighttime.