Monday, November 10, 2014

New Zealand Day 5: LOTR Tour in Wellington

On our last day in New Zealand, we went on a Lord of the Rings Tour with a company in Wellington. We were the only ones on the tour, so the tour guide was really good about being patient with our kids and such. Scott had a wicked fever on the tour, but we had already paid for the tour, so we just dragged him along. On one stop, I just stayed with him in the car so he could have a rest. There was never a ton of hiking or anything and once Scott's medicine kicked in, he felt better. In fact, he asked me the other day about the tour and how he was really sick and how he wanted to do that again. Pretty funny.

Okay, so the tour guide told us all about Peter Jackson's history in filmmaking and his struggles to get the LOTR movies made and everything as we drove around and then just pointed out a bunch of places where they filmed and then showed us screenshots from the movie to show us what we were looking at. I thought that part was absolutely essential because I don't know the movies well enough to just know. Matt was a lot more into it than I was and usually knew what the tour guide was talking about before we saw the pictures. So, I will attempt to explain what we saw and show you all the filming locations where we stopped. There are a lot of places where they combine shots from 4 or 5 places into one screenshot and obviously we could only see one at a time... 

So this is where Frodo hears the ringwraiths coming:
Here's Bobby telling us to "get off the road!"
 Here are the hobbits crouching down.
 Here's us crouching down in the same place. (They added the tree roots in for the movie.)
The small ledge where they fell.  We decided not to recreate the scene after learning one of the stunt people broke their leg after falling (he missed the mat).

Ringwraith spots the hobbits.

They actually shot this during the day and then darkened it during post production to make it look like night time.  This was mostly done for the safety of the actors since they were supposed to be running through the woods in the dark.

 Here's a quarry where they filmed Helms Deep
 and Minas Tirath

 Here's our picture of how the quarry looks now.  During shooting Peter Jackson paid to essentially put the quarry operations on hold for a year.  He was very good about returning things the way he found them.

We went to this river which they used to shoot the fellowship travelling down the River Anduin.  In order to make the river appear longer and to make it appear that they were travelling in a ravine they shot scenes going both directions on the river.
 Here's the river:

Gandalf riding to Isengard.

The mountains and archway (a miniature) were added in post production.  Also, Peter wanted Gandalf to enter from the right side so to do this he flipped the video after shooting.  Here's how the area looks today (it was shot in a disk golf course, hence the basket). 
Saruman and Gandalf walking and talking. 
 Once again Peter Jackson added mountains during post production (most of the mountains are from the south island).  Here's the area today.  The trees have grown quite a bit.
"Camp Ground Rivendell"
Rivendell was probably the hardest area to get a feel for how it was shot.  Peter Jackson was very good about leaving the area exactly how he found it.  This was shot in a national forest and to build the set they needed to remove some of the trees.  When they removed the tree they took GPS coordinates and kept the trees in another area so that they could replant them when they were done filming.  

Also, many of the Rivendell shots consisted of many many layers from all over New Zealand.  For example, in the scene below, the set where Frodo is standing was built in "Camp Ground Rivendell", the buildings and autumn trees are from a model, and the mountains and waterfalls are from various locations in Fiordland which is located on the south island of New Zealand. (We were told multiple times while there that the southern island is much more beautiful than the north island, so we really want to go back to see that...)

So here are some pictures from various locations in Rivendell. 

The boys comparing their heights to the cast of The Lord of the Rings: 

 They were very nice in providing a map to show where things were located.  They even labelled the trees by number to make it easier to match the trees to the movie.  The rest was up to our imaginations.
 These are the trees that were outside Frodo's window when he was recovering.
If you squint your eyes you can kind of see it...
The tree on the left can be seen in the image from the movie below.  It might be hard to tell, but you can trust us that it's the same (the map said so).

They've started to do some construction around the area to recreate some of the sets from the movie. So far they only had this arch partially completed.  I guess we'll have to go back some day.

 The tour guide took us to this tree where they took promotional shots of Legolas.

Matt posing by the tree.

Bobby posing with the ears

The last stop of the tour was visiting the top of Mount Victoria.  We had already visited here the day before, but it was nice to have one last look at Wellington. 

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