So we were heading down south towards Queenstown, when we came across the town of Twizel. This was a temporary town built in the 1980â€™s to house the workers as they built the 3 hydro-electric dams that are in the area. The population is only around 1000, but the whole town got a treat in 2000 when Peter Jackson and the film crew of â€œLord of the Ringsâ€ invaded the little town to film the greatest battle in cinematic history, the Battle of Pelannor Fields.
As we drove close, I said to my lovely wife â€œWeâ€™ve got to do the tour, no matter how much it isâ€. She smiled, and said weâ€™ll see. Well, we did it, and it was great.
The main filming site is on private land and the only way to see it is through the tour. We boarded the 4WD vehicle in the small town centre, and headed out to the farm. Along the way the tour guide, Jane, was telling us all about how the filming impacted their community. Pretty much everyone who wanted to be involved was. They needed riders, horses, handlers, carpenters, cooks, orcs, Rohirim, Gondorian soldiers, anything. The extraâ€™s were paid $100 per day â€“ I would have done it for $1 a day I think.
The farm owners themselves were only paid $1000 per day for the use of the land. The film crew spent 30 days setting up the scene, including building the roads into the site, and then another 30 days were spent filming.
One of the unique things about this Lord of the Rings site is that after the film crews leaves, they usually put the site back to its original state. In this case, however, the roads were left, as the land owner deemed them to be a usefull addition.
As the tour reached the site, we were shown segments of the film which was then paused, and we could just look out of the window at the actual location in real life. We then got out and looked around as Jane shared more stories about the filming.
We stood in the exact spot were Theodin gave his rousing speech, I ran down the hill where the Rohirim charged. I stood on the spot where the Witch King was slaughtered, and ran alongside the spot where the mumakâ€™s attacked. This was magic.
Our guide was excellent, and had lots of props including Bormirâ€™s sword, an orcâ€™s mask, and flags of Gondor and Rohan. We got to play with them which just made the experience even better. We had a blast.
Mr Crabapples, I thought of you often this day. I know you are jealous!