...in Wellywood ;)
The day before I left Wellington I went on a Lord of the Rings movie tour. As most fans know, Wellington was ground zero for Lord of the Rings production. The studios are there, Weta Workshop is there and countless of editing studios, sound studios and the like. I got picked up at around 10 in the morning by the tour guide, Ted. He’s a really cool guy and his brother works for Weta so he gets all kinds of inside information which is good for his tour company. =)
I had two other people doing the full day tour with me. One was a girl from London and the other is guy who is from Holland but also has American citizenship. He went to school in Pittsburgh and had a football scholarship. So that’s pretty cool.
The tour started with a 20 minute drive outside of Wellington city to go see some sites where movie sets were built and where other bits and pieces of the films were shot. The first place we went to was called “Dry Creek Quarry” and it’s where they built the set for Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. Here are my photos:
And here is photos of when they were building the sets in that area:
...and Minas Tirith. You can even see the Dry Creek Quarry sign in the bottom right of the photo just like in mine!!!
It’s crazy how something can be completely transformed for a film and how you can’t even recognize it anymore. Movie magic. Gotta love it!!!
We then went to a regional park where scenes were shot for Isengard:
The dark green strip down the middle is the path where Gandalf rode his horse up to the steps of Orthanc tower to meet with Saruman. They left the grass darker there as mark to show that they had filmed there. Much like the nail that was hammered into the rocks on top of Edoras!!! Here’s me with some trees:
The big tree trunk in the middle and the tree right next to it with all the branches can be seen to the right of the scene where Gandalf rides up to the stairs of Orthanc.
This is the area where Gandalf and Saruman are walking in the gardens of Isengard discussing how the ring has been found:
The park bench on the left was hidden by a digital bush that Weta popped in there. And obviously all the scenery above the trees was put in digitally as well. Here’s me and one of the other fans “acting out” the scene. It’s one of my favorites in the trilogy:
This is a view of the park from up on top of a hill.
They also filmed the scene where the orcs are chopping down trees to “build an army worthy of Mordor”. They built a fake tree to be put into the ground and then pulled down by the orcs which you can see here:
That was real rain as well, not movie rain.
This is Ted showing us behind the scenes stills of how these particular shots were filmed.
The next stop was a little river where they filmed the scene of Aragorn washing up on to the shore after falling over the cliff in The Two Towers. The rocks were covered with sand to make it more comfortable for Viggo and the horse that rescues him.
These are some sheep that were watching us curiously on the side of the river. They were really cute.
We had a tv in the tour van to show us certain scenes that we were going to see the locations of. This is Faramir’s dream sequence of him finding his brother’s body in the boat that Aragorn put him in:
And the actual river bit:
Next up was Rivendell. YAY!!! Here’s just some random shots of the really pretty river that runs through the park:
Ted showing us the particular areas of interest:
This shot was only seen for about 3 seconds in the first film!!!
Then we went to go see the area where this very famous publicity shot of Legolas was taken:
Which means that we got a go at it as well!!! I was debating wether or not to put these photos in but in the end, I don’t really care cause they are quite funny...
And here’s the sign they put up in the park to let everyone know about the genius that took place there:
Next was another 10 minute drive or so to this empty parking lot...
...where they filmed these scenes:
Again, movie magic!!!
We continued on back to Wellington city and we stopped to look at the view from the top of the hill:
It’s hard to see in this picture but there is a black boat to the right of the big white one which is the boat that was used in King Kong!!! Someone bought it off Peter Jackson for $1.00 just so he could get rid of it. The guy who bought it wanted to sink the boat and make it some kind of diving attraction but apparently there is a lot of legal stuff involved and a lot of cleaning of the boat that has to be done before that can happen so now the boat just sits there.
Next stop was Mt. Victoria where the very first day of filming for The Lord of the Rings took place!!! And also where some of my all time favorite scenes of the entire trilogy took place. It was these scenes that really caught my imagination and where I realized that I was watching something totally different and amazing!!! The first bit we went to was this cliff edge that looks over a little park.
They filmed this scene here:
And this one!!! (One of my all time favorites!!!)
How cool are these trees???
A little sign telling us about Hobbits:
Ted shows us Frodo and Sam’s tree:
Apparently this stick poking out can be seen to the left of the shot:
I love it. =)
This is the hill the hobbits fall down when they are running from Farmer Maggot:
And this is where they land:
“See???” says Ted. You can see the bush to the right.
Yet another photo op, this time complete with props.
This is where Frodo is standing when he senses something not quite right and the other hobbits are worried about mushrooms. Typical hobbits.
And this is where the hobbits hide under the tree trunk. Obviously, a fake tree was built for the scene:
“Okay, I’m getting off the road!!! Sheesh!!!”
Yet another great scene where Frodo and Merry are looking up at the Ringwraith. Surprisingly, the bit where the hobbits are watching isn’t that far from this area but they are looking in the opposite direction (something Donna and I always pondered over).
We then got back into the van and headed towards MIramar, home of Weta Workshop and all other Weta studios. This wall is used to test out green and blue screen for digital shots. Awesome!!! This area actually looks very familiar to me and I think it might be the area where they tested out the scale double hobbits to the actors to see how much they looked alike. It’s a really cute behind the scenes bit.
That big gray building was used to film all of the Skull Island stuff for King Kong.
We then pulled up to Weta Workshop and Ted pointed out this car to us:
This car belongs to Peter Lyon who made all of the weapons for the films. The license plate is appropriate. =) This confirms even more that everyone is getting together to do pre-production work for The Hobbit. How exciting!!!
Then we got to go into the Weta Cave for a browse. I’d already been twice before and you’ve already seen photos from it so I won’t post them again. I got a really cool souvenir, though!!! They took all of the chain mail from the movies and made them into key chains!!! I love it!!! A little piece of the film on my backpack. =)
After the tour, I met up with Sean and Sinead to say goodbye. We had dinner at a place called Fidel’s which the cast and crew from Lord of the Rings visited quite frequently!!!
So there you have it!!! An entire day worth of Lord of the Rings activities!!! Now that is what I call an awesome day!!!
By the by, this blog took hours to put together what with all the photos I had to find and all that. So I better get some SERIOUS comments on this blog.