Jay Adra
Photographer, Web Developer, Writer.

Day 10 – Pelennor & Laketown

Forth Eorlingas!

A rushed breakfast this morning as I was a little late, and then straight on down to meet Priscilla, the land-owner of the property used for Pelennor Fields.

After some information about the shoot, we took some photos and walked up the hill to where the Rohirrim charged down. There were many reenactments.

Afterwards, a sneaky stop for a couple of river photos.

We continued on to our next location, one of the farms situated on the side of Lake Pukaki, which was used for the Laketown location. We met the eccentric owner, Ian, who waited until we had all gathered outside of the coach, before bursting out of a wooden cabinet nearby and firing some sort of cannon to launch a shoe into the air (I called the cabinet by the way – the shoe-cannon I did not expect).

He gave us a brief history of his family and how they came to own the farm, and his father’s story through World War 2 (which had so many crazy details that he just brushed over). Then he gave us a small tour of his farm and workshop, where he makes ridiculous things.

We watched a couple of scenes from The Hobbit, where the Laketown refugees washed up on the shores after Smaug’s attack, since we would soon be walking down to that location. We then had a short archery session, and were all pretty mediocre.

Lastly, we boarded a ridiculous truck and drove over to the lake. The seats in the back are cinema seats, if you were wondering.

The lake itself though is absolutely stunning, with glacial-blue water, stretched out for miles, and snow-capped mountains all the way down. Again, it’s hard to capture these things in photos, but I did try.

Sadly, we had to leave, and headed back along the dusty road, making our way to our lunch stop, though having a quick bathroom break nearby, which gave us another sneaky photo opportunity.

Then it was off towards Cromwell, where we’re staying the night. One last stop before the hotel at Mrs. Jones’ Orchard, where they had fresh fruit tasting and fresh fruit ice cream, both of which were great. There were some gardens there too which were nice to walk through.

I ran into the group in the hotel bar on my way to find dinner and joined them for the night. They had ordered too much food so I was able to scavenge a meal! Thanks Martijn! We have an early start tomorrow for a big day. Exhaustion is starting to catch up with me. I think I’ll be sleeping deeply tomorrow night.

Day 9 – Edoras (Mount Sunday)

For lord and land!

It was raining this morning in Christchurch, which was a little worrying for our trip today, but we remained optimistic.

We drove a few hours, heading inland towards Edoras, with a couple of rest stops along the way. The landscape changed as we journeyed in; mountains began to show, brown fields covered the surrounding hills, looking more and more like Rohan. The weather had cleared up too once we headed inland, and now the Sun was out and shining, with blue skies and white fluffy clouds scattered across them.

We picked up Gandalf (our guide) on the way, and kept driving as he told us about his experience as an extra and some stories from the shoot.

Soon enough, we were driving through the fields of Rohan on a dusty gravel road, snow-capped mountains all around us, and the relatively small hill of Edoras (Mount Sunday) in the centre, growing larger and larger as we approached.

A few hundred metres out, we parked the coach and began our hike on foot to the base of the mountain. There were a few small wet areas, but most of the little rivers had foot bridges for us to use for crossing. We made our way across the plains, in awe with each step at the incredible, natural scenery all around us. It is something quite incredible to experience first-hand – a rare beauty, stretched as far as the eye can see. The only sounds are the few birds and cows, and the soft running of water from the rivers. It was peaceful; serene. I don’t quite know how to properly convey the feeling, but here’s some photos.

We continued up the steep mountain, pausing to wait for the group to catch up, and hearing bits of information about where each thing was shot.

Eager to reach the top, we went on ahead and saw the incredible 360 degree views. Many photos were taken, much joy was had. There were so many different directions, angles, and landscapes to choose from; I could’ve spent the whole day up there finding new photos.

We took a nice group shot, followed by some cosplay photos individually.

Fortunately there were hardly any people around, and we had plenty of time to explore, take photos, and just enjoy the view. Plus the weather was perfect, with only a slight comfortable breeze, even at the top.

And a special shout-out to Barb, who soldiered all the way to the top and back again, smiling the whole time.

When it was time to leave, we reluctantly walked back to the coach, enjoying the view once last time, before boarding and beginning our drive on towards the small town of Twizel, our next hotel location.

We did make one (very) quick stop at Lake Tekapo for brief photos, though we were behind schedule so had to hurry along. I very hurriedly grabbed these few, which I initially planned on stitching together to form a panorama, but it’s late and I need to sleep, so you can just imagine it 🙂

We also drove past Lake Pukaki, which looked incredible, but no chance to stop today unfortunately. We do return there tomorrow though, and spend a few hours there, so hopefully the weather is as perfect as it was today, and I can get some amazing shots there too.

We finished the evening with a visit from a seamstress who makes cloaks (among other things), and a buffet dinner as a group, which was delicious and filling. Barb bought everyone a drink too by the way. We don’t deserve her.

Day 8 – Driving to Christchurch

The road goes ever on and on.

As expected, today was just a travel day, with a few short stops along the way to Christchurch. One of the stops was along the coast where a large number of seals lie about on the rocks, so we had a chance to take some photos there.

After that, we drove a short distance to have lunch (I had a mediocre burger), and then we did the last leg of the journey to our hotel near the Christchurch Airport, watching Two Towers on the way. There was also a LotR quiz in the morning to help pass the time.

For dinner, I walked down to a nearby Indian restaurant. Chicken Tika Masala. Good, not great.

Tomorrow we go to Edoras! I hope the weather is clear – very excited for it!

Day 7 – Rings & Helicopters

It’s just a whiff of cloud.

First stop today was at Jens Hansen in Nelson, the jewellers who made the One Rings for the films. Jens had sadly passed away just before the films were released, so his son Halfdan Hansen took over the business. He gave a presentation describing the work they did for the films, the different types/sizes of rings they made, and showed us some of their hero rings from the films. We then had some time to take photos and buy some rings (I managed to hold off).

We then dropped off the few people who weren’t doing the helicopter tour at the World of Wearable Arts exhibition (where our coach clipped a huge light-post and knocked it over), before continuing on to our departure point.

We drove through farmland and up hills to get to where the helicopters were up top. We had three choppers to fit all 17 of us, and after signing away our lives and going through the safety briefing, we climbed aboard and took off!

We had a short flight to our first mountain destination, Mt. Owen, which was used as the exit from Moria (though there was more snow since we’re still in October). The flight there was really cool, and we got to see the extensive farmland, mountains, valleys, forests, and lakes in the surrounding area.

We landed nearby and had a bit of time to look around and take photos. There were incredible 360 degree views, and it was very peaceful up there, though a little cold (not too windy though which helped).

We then saddled back into the choppers and flew to our next location, Mt. Olympus, which was used for the Spies of Saruman scene. The journey there was equally as stunning.

The whole surrounding area looked a lot like the above photos; lots of green forest and little lakes running between. But then we rounded a corner and suddenly saw the unique and distinct rocks of our destination. Strange, interesting formations, scattered along the mountainside.

We landed in small spaces between the rocks and fortunately had a decent amount of time to walk around and take photos. The pilots explained the places where things were shot, though I’m sure everyone already knew.

I would’ve loved to have stayed much longer and just walk up and down the mountain-side, finding new rocks and different angles. It wasn’t even that cold up there.

Eventually we had to wrap things up and get going.

We set off to Nelson airport, where we were going to get picked up from (much closer to our hotel than where we departed). We ended up having to do a few laps just outside of controlled airspace while we waited for a plane to land, so we got some extra flight time which was nice.

Finally we landed, gave our thanks, and headed back to the hotel. I did some much needed laundry and smashed out these photos before dinner, so I could go eat and not worry.

Tomorrow is a travel day mostly, so might not be too many photos. We are making our way to Christchurch, though I think we are stopping to see some kind of seals, so we’ll wait and see.

PS: We went out for Thai this evening. I had the Stir Fry.

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