We set off after breakfast with a mission in mind.
As we might have mentioned a few times, we do like LOTR and today we wanted to find a few sites that some scenes were filmed from. The first was a few miles from Queenstown.
Arrowtown is a lovely small town near Queenstown and is often overlooked by its more popular neighbour, but it is here that one of the scenes where the 9 Nazghul crossing the River Isen, was filmed.
We got to the car park and read the blurb on the particular site, which included, “You may need to wade across the river in ankle deep water”. This didn’t sound too bad really, so off we trundled in search of this place.
Getting to the spot in question, we both looked blankly across what we thought had been described as a “little, of no consequence, hardly running at all and definitely NOT deep”, river. Here we were, looking across at a fast running, boulder stopping, 20m or more wide rapid flowing cauldron of water and mayhem…..
“Let me try to go across first, sweetheart”, I said helpfully.
Now, I don’t know who’s ankles were being referred to in the blurb but, as I gallantly tried to ford this raging, icy, rock-strewn torrent, my ankles quickly disappeared under the water, followed by my knees and then thighs and all the while, trying to wade through freezing cold water. I was thinking that the author of this particular fact sheet was perhaps having a LARF!!!! Still, I eventually made it to the other side, shivering.
Mitch, of course, had the camera……
On the other side of the river……..
She took one step in……..
“I am not friggin going any further!!!” she hollered, as her mouth turned blue. Or at least, I think that’s what she said, as I was still finding it hard to hear, having my eardrums frozen into rigid objects.
Luckily, my phone was with me and still relatively dry so I captured the exact scene you see in the film and felt mighty proud of the moment. You are lucky enough to see it here…. (The things we do for these blogs!)
Of course, stupid me, I now had to figure out how to get back across, and as my legs still felt like mush, I did not trust the, “toe-probing-under-the-water-to-find-the-boulder-which-is-NOT-moving-so-I-can-stand-on-it” approach. Instead I wandered upstream to find another route, which was slightly less daunting, and re-crossed the torrent. Bare footed, I then walked back down the other bank, standing on sharp rocks, thistles and anything else deemed ready to try to scrape all my skin off my toes. I got back to the start of this “interesting” odyssey to find that Mitch had disappeared!
“Where are you?” I shouted, for a few minutes, worried that she had tried to find an alternative route across further upstream and that at any moment, I would see her being swept off down the river for me to dive in once again and save her!
I would have done so…… of course….. eventually!
“I am up here” she cried, “sun-bathing!”
A few choice expletives later, and I joined her at a rock mound, probably dedicated to the many people who had been drowned whilst trying to take a picture of this “inconsequential scene”
Once I thawed out, we drove off to the next LOTR site, which was close to the original AJ Hackett Bungee Jump platform off the Kawarau Bridge. (Apparently the first place in the world where Bungee jumping was attempted… Wonder which fool was the first to try this leap into the unknown, with said, dental floss attached to their ankles and nothing else?)
The second site was to try to find the scene where the “Pillars of the Kings” was filmed on the “River Anduin”. This was filmed just down from the Kawarau Bridge on the Kawarau River, which flows out of Lake Wakatipu and has carved itself through the rocky strata, creating amazing forms. And it is this river, that the bungee jumpers decide to attempt “dive suicide” by plunging into it head first, with dental floss attached to their bodies.
Children as young as 10 were jumping off when we got there. Some squealing with delight, others screaming out the most foul profanities as they fell for 1.2 seconds before they disappeared under the water……..to emerge wet and wild, hollering with delight as the elasticated cord brought them back from the brink.
Mad, mad people!
The scene in question, was the one on the River Anduin (in the film) where the travellers paddle up the river and pass between two kings sculpted out of the craggy mountain faces.
After enjoying looking at the Bungee jumping, we went on to a vineyard, where this particular view could be seen. Deep blue and jade water courses through the rock here, and again, it is well worth a visit, especially if you like wine, because the view is from Chard Farm Vineyard (small plug there!), one of the best in the region. An obligatory wine tasting later and a few photos of the LOTR site, and off we went again on our next adventure.
NOTE: If you do go to Chard Farm, please do not drink too much, as the return journey down a hairpin sandy road with a million foot drop to one side down into the raging torrent below, is quite daunting, especially if you are the passenger!
We drove down the east coast of Lake Wakatipu, stopping every now and again to drink in the view. As most lakes, Wakatipu is vast and it took over 50 minutes before we left it behind on our way to Te Anau and the start of the Fjiorlands.
Stopping for provisions at Te Anau, after about an hour’s drive, we then headed towards Milford Sound up route SH 94. The Fjiordlands have a number of Sounds including “Doubtful” and of course, the most famous of them all, “Milford”. We drove through the first forest, which is where the “Fangorn” scenes were shot in LOTR, which was lovely as well, but soon, the sun started to settle and we looked for a place to park up for the night.
Before this, however, we stopped at a place called “Mirror Lakes”. Why? You might ask. Because they reflect the mountains just like a mirror and the scene is stunning. Have a stop and see for yourself when you next pass them.
We continued on and decided to stop at a place called “Knobs Flat”. For no other reason than it sounded funny! We camped up in a quiet motorhome park. (I think we were the only ones there), got dinner organised, watched episode 2 of “The Hobbit” on the inboard TV and settled down for the night, falling asleep…….
Something gi-normous had landed on our roof and was now clattering around looking to do mischief.
A mind, coming out of deep sleep and disturbed in this way, is not rational and conjures up many scenarios, almost none of which are based on reality!
Everything from a rat trapped between the roof and the ceiling, ready to gnaw through and fall on us, to a monkey, squirrel and even a bear attack filtered through our groggy heads. Whatever it was though, despite all our banging around and shouting and hitting the ceiling, it was not going away.
Someone had to go out and confront it!…..
I discovered at this moment, that RVs do NOT come with dangerous weapons as part of their arsenal, so, armed only with a head torch, a frying pan and a wooden spoon, good ol’ “Muggins” here ventured out carefully into the pitch blackness, fully expecting “IT” to be waiting for me and jump on my head.
I went out and closed the door behind me, to protect Mitch in case I was ripped to shreds and was left a bloody mess on the parkland for her to find in the morning……..
Looking up, I was confronted with the largest bird I had ever seen, apart from an Ostrich, peering from the roof. It was calmly looking down at me as if to say, “Yes? Can I help you?” It certainly did NOT look as if it was scared of me despite my garish outfit.
The silence was by now, too much for Mitch to bear and she called out, “What is it?”
……………… “It’s a bloody Parrot!” I said
Keas are large parrot looking birds that seem to occupy this region and are known for chewing the rubber from cars, or chewing anything else they can get their beaks in to. We were not aware that such birds existed, otherwise we would have been informed, and prepared.
I eventually chased it away with loud shouts and clashing of my trusty frying pan weapon, “Isuldur the oven-ready”, climbed back into the RV, fell into bed feeling as if I had saved my damsel in distress, and fell asleep.
If anyone was outside at the time and has filmed this and it now resides on Youtube, please tell me. It must have looked so funny from an outside perspective.
Night night… yawn