We have a new appreciation for the cast and crew who worked on Lord of the Rings... in the space of an hour we have experienced brilliant sunshine, rain, sleet and snow!!
Following advice from friends and locals, our time in Queenstown consisted of visiting an ice bar, going for a walk in the park and having lunch at Fergburger - known for serving the best burgers in New Zealand (or even the world, according to some!)
The following day we headed to Glenorchy (a beautiful drive from Queenstown) where we did a half day Lord of the Rings horse ride with High Country Horses.
We passed by ‘Isengard’ and ’Amon Hen’ and saw the exact location where Boromir (Sean Bean) was killed. We learnt that Sean Bean was terrified of helicopters and on the flight up to the point in the photo below, the actors who played hobbits Merry and Pippin told the pilot to give Sean Bean the ride of his life. As a result, Bean refused to get in any other helicopters, and for a scene at the Remarkables where everyone else got a helicopter, he got a ski lift in full costume and hiked the rest of the way up the mountain for the shoot!
The forests where the Amon Hen scenes were filmed are heavily protected. Because the seeds of the rare birch trees there are only spread by the wind, everything that falls on the forest floor has to be kept as it is. Peter Jackson was very particular about making each scene look as near to the book as possible, so it was someone’s job to photograph the forest floor before filming, clear it, then put it back exactly as it was before they got there!
The other interesting Lord of the Rings fact we learnt was that Liv Tyler (who plays the elf Arwen) is petrified of horses. She managed to sit on one when it was stationary, but all of the other shots are either stunt doubles, or CGI effects as she was being towed along on a barrel!
We were really lucky with the weather on our ride and it only started raining at the very end. Within minutes of finishing the ride it started hailing (and snowing higher up in the mountains).
The following day the snow caught up with us, so we now really understand what they mean when they say how unpredictable the weather is in the South Island!