The Middle Earth Travel Guide – An infographic by Cheapflights.com.au
5th October 2012
Oh dear. It all started so well. Then descended into disbelief. As in disbelief that I paid to go on this tour.
As we finished from climbing Mount Victoria and getting nearly emasculated by the girls I was with, Bente and I excitedly awaited to be picked up by Film Tours, who we booked with the day before through our hostel.
A bubbly, chirpy woman breezed in through the door and asked if we were on her tour. Of course we were, if we had the money, we would have dressed up as hobbits, ears and everything!
The first thing we should have noticed what was wrong that we were bundled in very tightly (Bente and I became a lot closer than intended) in a plain white van, with very low windows, and a massive tv hanging precariously from the ceiling over our heads. Oh, and it was flashingly tell us it was disabled most of the time.
Despite the initial misgivings, both Bente and I were still looking forward to the day ahead. We were the last to be picked up and so we headed straight to the first destination around Wellington. I leant forward to pick up what the tour guide was saying only to start listening to some inane banter between her and another guy who was too busy trying to flirt with her and possibly succeeding. Okay, I’m not one to get in the path of love (or lust in this case), but hang on, I paid to go on this tour so start telling me about Lord of the Rings!
Luckily, she did after another 10 mins of which Bente and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. So where were we going to go first. I inwardly groaned when she said we were going to Mount Victoria! We were just there this morning and if I knew we were, then I wouldn’t have gone and be ripped apart by the girls!
But this is when the true tour started, thank god. We were going to Hobbiton Woods! On the very first day of filming in 1997, they filmed in some bushes on the side of Mount Victoria. The first spot we went to were only featured in a few seconds of the Fellowship of the Ring. It was the hobbits viewpoint on Weathertop when they had to turn out the fire and see the Nazgul running towards them. Amazing to see the work that goes into the special effects to hide Wellington!
We also found a yard stick in which we could measure ourselves in relation to a hobbit. I’m massive!
The next spot we visited is where Frodo and Sam camped for the evening and we posed for the picture. Again just a few seconds in the film. It really goes to show how much filming had to be done in order to get everything. Even a few measly seconds requires half the day’s work. I take my hats off to them.
Then came the best posey shot of the day, again I was Sam. It’s the scene where they are hiding from the Black Rider. No trunk there anymore as it was a fake one made by Weta Workshop which where we would be going later. We had to keep the pose for ages for everyone in our group to take pics. Bente was pretty concerned how she would look like under the influence of the ring but I just simply told her to make a face when you finally got to the toilet after a long wait. She succeeded.
After a few location spots on Mount Victoria, we bundled back in the van, and headed to Weta Workshop. I was pretty excited. This is where the magic is made for Lord of the Rings. I was going to be so interested how they sculptured, motion detected, designed and many more. Upon arrival, we were herded through into a film room in which it explained the history of Weta Workshop. It was pretty interesting but I was itching out to see the actual workshops. After the film showing, we were told to look around the shop and the mini museum. Oh….ok. I did and saw everything in 5 mins. The shop had astronomical prices so there was no way I would be buying anything and the mini museum only had exhibits behind a thick glass pane so I couldn’t appreciate them very well. Finished, I went up to the tour guide and asked when we would be able to see the workshops. We can’t. It’s not allowed. Very disappointed, I asked when we would be moving again. Not for another hour. What! So we had to wander round the shop and mini museum for ages. I was well bored and really disappointed with the tour. But there was still time left, surely she must be waiting for the big reveal.
Bundled back into the van, my disappointment turned into annoyance when the tour plundered to new lows when we drove around the ‘sets’ I.e. Public roads leading to nondescript warehouses with the shutters down. It wasn’t interesting and I couldn’t get enthused about seeing the ‘sets’ if I had to stretch my neck right down to my chest to see out of the window only to see nothing.
I finally had enough with the tour when we drove past a local supermarket and the tour guide stopped the van and excitedly told us that where the ‘actors went to get their food!’ oh wow! How amazing! I’m sure this is what I’ve been looking for all my life and now I can die content. And yes, I’m being VERY sarcastic.
Sitting back, glaring at the whole situation, the tour guide started to redeem herself when we said we would go and visit the set of Bree. The place where the hobbits were due to meet Gandalf. I perked up slightly.
‘but it was only built on wasteland for one day of filming so they’ve knocked it down and now it’s wasteland again.’
So why the hell are we going there then if there’s nothing? I was truly baffled. But I shouldn’t have been surprised if she got overly excited about a supermarket.
Sensing I was about to go all Sauron on her, she finally turned on the tv and put on the Easter egg found on the DVD in which Dominic (Merry) interviewed Elijah (Frodo) from different countries and putting on an accent to conduct a hilarious interview.
But it was too little, too late, she finally turned back to Wellington and dropped us off at the hostel. I absolutely hated it and felt let down. What a waste of money. And now I have a crick in my neck.