Friday, November 6, 2009

My Journey through Middle Earth

In this section, I'll show you visits I made to scenic Lord of the Rings film locations around New Zealand.

This post is a while in the making! Now, one of the only things I knew about New Zealand when I was coming over was that they filmed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) here. I mean that was really the only thing I knew. I eventually learned that they have lots of sheep here and that they love rugby, but seeing the sights of LOTR was high on my list of things to do.

That said, it hasn't always been easy. I'm working in Christchurch, on the South Island, and a lot of the film was filmed on the North Island. As well, a lot of the places are only accessible by helicopter or are on private land. I have been able to go to as many of the places nearby as I can (thanks to a book my friend gave me...thanks Sylvie!!), and I took a tour with my flatmates about some LOTR scenes. This is the result of the first batch of locations I visited:

The first is the background for Ithilien, where Frodo meets Faramir for the first time in the movies:
The book in the picture is a scene where Faramir is looking out into the wilderness. Pay close attention the mountains. You should notice that the ranges are exactly the same.

"Hmm, I wonder if Sauron is over there behind those mountains."

The view to the left (it was sunny that day, so the picture isn't great) was also used to portray Ithilien (a region near Mordor).

Pay close attention to the book in the first picture; it's the exact same scenery as the book in the second picture.
The key points are the little island in the middle and the triangular-shaped mountain to the right of that. It was at this point where I was like, "Whoa. I'M HERE IN MIDDLE EARTH!"

*Ahem* The next picture is of the locale for the Dead Marshes.
They say it looks much more ominous in the winter, when all of those small trees aren't green and just dead-looking. Here's a fun fact: the close-up scenes (like where Frodo sees the dead bodies) were actually filmed in a flooded parking lot in Wellington (the capital).

Next up, we go to the a foresty area where they shot some of scenes for Amon Hen.

This next picture of a tree, but not just any ordinary tree. Apparently during location scouting (before LOTR, Peter Jackson had people just drive and helicopter themselves all over New Zealand to look for locations to film), an observant scout noticed this tree and sent it to Peter Jackson:
And it then become the inspiration for Peter Jackson's depiction of Ents. (See the "eye" at the top and "mouth" near the bottom). Very cool, no?

So, if you don't remember the movies, Amon Hen is where Boromir dies trying to protect Merry and Pippin from Orcs.

To honour Boromir's courageous effort (though some would say it merely made up for his trying to take the ring from Frodo), I put myself in his shoes.
Damn Orcs.

There was also this cool tree that reminded me of this scene. Naturally I had go put myself in the shoes of a hobbit:

Lastly, we entered an area that served as the scenic background for Isengard. Now, the tower and the entire fortress was actually a small model, something like 10-20 feet in diameter, that they digitally imposed over the farm where our tour was.
Pay close attention to the mountain above and to the right of Isengard in the book's picture. It has a distinct ridge and then a dip and then another ridge. It's the same mountain above the car in the background!

As well, I took a picture of this:
The forests in the background are where Gandalf rides his horse with haste on his way to seek advice from Saruman in Fellowship.

Aaand that's it! As I continue my journey through Middle Earth, I'll be sure to put up more posts like this...with plenty more scenes of me pretending like I'm a hobbit! Cheers!


  1. Great job Jeff! You made good on your promise (:

  2. LOL, best post ever!!! Very informative 8-)

  3. this is definitely my favourite post of yours. i'm glad you're making use of the book!

  4. why is there no mention of LEGOLAS?