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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plan the Ultimate New Zealand Lord of the Rings experience!, June 11, 2004
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook (Paperback)
The Good: During June/July of 2003 I had the unbelievable opportunity to spend 6 weeks exploring New Zealand (this was before the revision of the book to include the Return of the King locations). As a lover of Tolkien and the LOTR movies I knew I could not miss seeing some of the filming locations used to portray 'Middle-Earth.' Ian Brodie's location guide is a godsend! I do strongly recommend renting a 4WD vehicle - the best locations are way off the beaten path and there is no other way to get to them!
North Island Highlights -
1) Visit the remains of the Hobbiton set in Matamata. Even without the remaining Hobbit hole facades, this lush green country is instantly recognizable as the Shire. To walk up the same stone steps at Bag End that Gandalf climbed is unbelievable. If you're lucky, you'll get one of the Alexander brothers as your guide!
2) Do not miss the opportunity to reenact the "get of the road" hobbit sequence on Mt Victoria. We had a bit of trouble finding the spot as much of the smaller brush and shrubbery had recently been trimmed, but once you're there you will recognize the location (focus on finding the older tree growth)!
3) Spend some time in Kaitoke Regional Park - aside from the lush vegetation you won't recognize anything directly from the movie, but the park is gorgeous and offers several walking trails.
South Island Highlights -
1) You MUST make the trek out to Erewhon/Mt Sunday. This was one of the best days of my trip. It is a long unpaved road and an endless drive deep into what seems like the middle of nowhere, but very much worth it! Mt Sunday/Edoras is instantly recognizable and you'll hardly notice that Meduseld isn't still standing there in all its glory. The Rangitata Valley is immense and breathtaking. There simply aren't words to describe the experience. Oh yeah, and it really is windy!
2) Queenstown, Queenstown, Queenstown! Do not short yourself on time in this adventure capital of New Zealand! You will recognize the Remarkables, overlooking Queenstown, from the movie immediately - they were used in many landscape shots in the film. Deer Park Heights is amazing - the LOTR locations are labelled with small guide markers, but also take your time to enjoy the animals roaming the preserve! When you find the tiny mountain tarn Peter Jackson used to film the refugees escaping Rohan you will truly come to understand this man's genius and vision! One of the Glenorchy Dart River safaris out of Queenstown is the best way to see the Isenguard location!
3) The second greatest day of my New Zealand trip was yet another long unpaved drive to the Mavora Lakes. I can't stress 4WD, common sense, and following speed signs in unpaved locations enough here - going slightly too fast at a road bend, we did at one point lose traction and drive staight off the road. Nonetheless, this worthwhile drive hits several locations. Without a GPS device, you'll find the burning Orc hill/Fangorn Forest location easiest by lining up the mountains to the forest looking for the matching movie shot. Hop the fence (watch out for sheep poo) and take the easy walk up to the hill. Reenact Aragorn's "a hobbit lay here and another here" sequence. Highly amusing after the long drive! Keep on driving (and do not mistake South Mavora Lake which you'll pass first for North Mavora) and you'll eventually get to the location used for Nen Hithoel. The waters where Sam nearly drowned trying to swim to Frodo are indeed cold! The fallen tree where Merry and Pippin hide is easily recognized, as is the tree Frodo hides behind - it is less that 10 feet away from the fallen Merry/Pippin tree. Don't let the prospect of getting a little dirty deter you from crawling under the fallen tree and whispering "hide here"! The guide directions aren't the greatest, but just at the forest edge in the open parking area, stand with the lake parallel to your left and these film locations are close by at the top of the ridge in the 2 o'clock direction. Personal rant to follow! Please do not stray too far into the forest - there is no trail to follow and the forest here is so dense that you could quite easily become lost/disoriented! As a word of warning - at one point in our search my friend and I were separated by only 20 to 30 feet and we could not see each other let alone the lake or parking area. Even though this is no more than a quick climb up a hill, be smart (we did find the car in case you were wondering) - as a precaution bring a daypack/backpack with drinking water for two days (for each person in your party), a small amount of food, and winter warm clothing even if the weather is hot. In the event that you do become lost, don't panic, don't run/rush, and at a calm walk DON'T WANDER FOR MORE THAN 5 MINUTES thinking that you'll find your way out (the average person who wanders for 15 minutes will have walked a mile) - stay put, settle in, and wait to be found. Whether you're going alone or with others - tell someone at your hostel/hotel that if you do not check in with them by a certain hour they should notify authorities of your location - by doing this, someone will find you if the worst case scenario does occur! The same goes for any location you are heading to that is off the beaten track! LOTR draws people from all walks of life, and hopefully those without outdoors experience/knowledge wishing to explore 'Middle-Earth' will stay safe in these wonderful locations!
The Bad: The only drawback to this book is that I didn't bring GPS equipment and thus sometimes found the directions to locations slightly vague - nonetheless, the directions do offer enough information to find the locations!
The Ugly: This last comment in no way relates to the book! If you're going to this fantastic country simply to see LOTR filming locations, I promise that you are missing out on what could be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Yes, go to see 'Middle-Earth' but do not forget the rest of New Zealand!
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