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New Zealand.
New Zealand.
Lord of the Rings.
Lord of the Rings.
New Zealand.

Lord of the Rings

Thursday, December 5, 2002
No wonder Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand — this place is nothing short of spectacular.

New Zealand is such a beautiful country it almost screams "please come here to shoot movies" and filmmaker, Peter Jackson, answered the call to make his interpretation of JRR Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

Several locations were used — a farm in the Waikato area was transformed into Hobbiton, Mt Ruapehu and the Tongariro National Park on the north island became Mt Doom. Wellington, Canterbury and Queenstown were magically turned into various streets: White Mountain Foothills, Lothlorien Woods and the Ford of Bruinen, which were featured in the book.

Hobbits, dwarves, elves, wizards and "normal" men were cast in the film which required myriads of costumes, special effects, make-up, creatures, armour and weapons. A Wellington workshop made 48,000 items to be used in filming the Trilogy, including 1600 pairs of individually sized and shaped prosthetic feet and ears, 12.5 million rings for chainmail and 900 suits of armour. In addition, 10,000 arrows were fletched. Stunt weapons were made from skateboard wheel rubber and not one broke in 15 months of filming.

Tongariro National Park was part of Middle Earth and is where the Battle of Mordor was held. Its peak, Mt Ngauruhoe, is New Zealand's most active volcano, and it took many special effects to turn it into Mt Doom.

The little town of Ohakune nearby is usually very quiet during summer, but the Powderhorn Chateau and The Hobbit were booked out during filming and the place became very lively. By the way, The Hobbit has had its name for 20 years!

For a bird's-eye view of the many locations around Queenstown on the South Island, Heliworks Helicopter Aerials Trip will take you over the Kawarau River and Gorge, Skippers Canyon, Te Anau and Waiau River, Lake Alta, Deer Park Heights and Paradise.

For ground level locations, Dart Stables near Glenorchy provided 15 of the hundreds of horses used in the film, and Peter Davies is the only tour operator allowed into The Garden of Eden, the beech forest where The Battle of Amon Hen was filmed. Moss which was removed while filming was happening was placed in a nursery for the duration and replaced at the end.

As you enter Paradise, an old mining town, and the Garden of Eden, you will see old wooden cottages, cabins and a schoolhouse and these are used as accommodation on two and three day rides.

Frodo Baggins escaped Boromir in the hills of Paradise and was confronted by The Eye of Sauron as he was at the Seat of Seeing.

Frodo travelled down the Dart River in a canoe, and you can enjoy the same water injected with a bit of oomph with Dart River Safaris, going through familiar territory in three sections.

You leave Glenorchy in a 21-seater 4WD Mitsubishi coach and go through high country farmland which gradually changes into wilderness forest. The last five kilometres have a few stream crossings and are accessible only by 4WD.The journey takes about an hour.

Then there is a 20 minute guided walk down the Rees-Dart Track through native forest. It is in Mt Aspiring National Park and you walk under the rockface of Chinaman's Bluff, through 800- year-old beech forest. This leads you to the Dart River.

This is where the adrenalin starts pumping. You board the 15-seater jet boat and journey around seven kilometres upstream at a steady pace and then 37 kilometres downstream to Glenorchy. The pace picks up on the homeward run.

The company also has inflatable Funyaks which can also be used to get to Paradise.

A great way to enjoy all that Tongariro has to offer is with Peter Zimmer. He has a variety of hiking and cycling tours, including lunch, transfers and guide.


On location in New Zealand.


Qantas flies daily to Auckland. Prices per person start at $549 from the east coast, $749 from Adelaide and $949 from Perth.
Pete Outdoors tours start at around $135, including guide lunch and transfers.
Dart River Safaris start at around $120 for adults and $60 for children. 4WD, hiking and jet boat included.
Dart Stables tours start at around $110.
Heliworks scenic flights start at around $120 per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Pete Outdoors
Independent Instruction and Guiding
265 Whakapapa Road, R.D. 1, Owhango
Ph: 0011 647 895 4445 Fax: 0011 647 895 4454
Dart River Safaris
Box 76 PO Queenstown 9197
Ph: 0011 643 442 9992 Fax: 0011 643 442 9075
Dart Stables
Box 47 Glenorchy
Ph: 0011 643 442 5688 Fax: 0011 643 442 6045
Ph: 0011 643 441 4011 Fax: 0011 643 441 4012
Find out when the best time to travel to New Zealand is.

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