Cast your mind back to October. The first days of Lord of the Ring filming.

On the Thursday, I had heard that there was filming going on on Mount Victoria. I drove up there with my mate, and we ran around for an hour without finding anything. So we drove home. However, on the way home, what did we find but a road packed with traffic cones and signs saying People Crossing. So we got out of the car and investigated.

To set the scene, this all took place on top of a forested hill (it’s not a Mountain, despite the name) in Wellington, windy and sunny, say 18 degrees C? Anyway. We found a path leading downhill by a little construction building shed-type thing. There was a lady in a reflective jacket on a 4-wheel drive buggy. She drove the buggy downhill, and we followed quietly. The path was muddy and well-tred. We turned a corner and found some metal bars, obviously used for scaffolding. Had we found our grail? We searched for Elijah, to no avail. I turned to my friend and told him to ‘Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I’m hunting hobbits!’

What we *did* find, however, was a fork in the path. One way, the high road, led to a blue and white tent, some more scaffolding and a platform, a bunch of pot-plants, a sack full of leaves (many of which were scattered across the path, and, when we looked up, an elaborate mechanism of ropes that lead to… a large, constructed tree-stump. Oh, and the buggy-lady was there too, reading her paper.

Having done plenty of research, I knew that this was the fabled tree that Elijah and his hobbitty clique would hide from the Nhazgul behind. I was in awe. Of course, I was also fearing that the buggy-lady would escort us out, so we quietly took the low-road down the hill, as inconspicuously as we could. “Hi!” I heard, coming from behind me. She’d seen us. I turned around, flashed a grin, then hurridly walked down the hill.

We reached the bottom a bit later, following the buggy tracks, and saw a park, with truck tracks and a large dumpster. We decided to go back up the hill. Having reached the fork once more, we decided to talk to buggy-lady. She was friendly enough, and easily excited. She told us that we had missed the filming, and that the place had been packed. “There were, oh, like, 20 trucks up top, and like, 50 down the bottom, eh!” She didn’t know who Elijah was, so I decided to walk on and investigate the tree. As we turned she asked us: “Hey, yous don’t have no camera in that bag, eh?” Which translates to: “Excuse me, but you do not happen to have a camera in your bag, do you perchance?”

“Oh, er, naah, naah, of course not. We’re just going for a walk, you know?” She went back to reading her paper as we breathed a sigh of relief. We checked which way she was looking and took three photos whilst coughing, to cover up the sound. Unfortunately they are slightly blurred, but you can still see a)The fake hollowed out tree in all its glory. b) The striped tent. c) The path, with the fake leaves, and a white sack which previously bore them. d) Part of the tree-lifting mechanism and e) the scaffolding and platform.

Yes, that *is* the path upon which whe hobbits walked, and that *is* the path upon which the black horse which you have seen earlier walked. And that *is* three tree that Elijah in all likelyhood probably touched. So did I. We left the path and headed on up the hill, finding numerous cups of coffee littered all over. I hope they’re going to clean it up.

Afterwards, we went down to the park by car. We found lots more coffee cups and KFC bags strewn all over. We swung on the swings that Elijah probably swung on. And then we remembered the dumpster.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your trepid explorer and narrator lowered himself to searching the dumpster. We ripped open bags to investigate. We found BILLIONS of coffee cups (apparently $30,000 has been spent on coffee alone so far), lots of KFC, pieces of paper with things like ‘DIALECT COACH’ and ‘HORSE WRANGLER’ written on them, a mouldy watermelon, some polysterene wrapping and a mop. Nothing too exciting. But it was fun.

Then, as a final mission, we thought we’d investigate the tree once more, and try to get a photograph of it from where the camera would be. We missioned up the hill (not through the path, mind – through the scratching bushes) and reached it. We ran up to it, saw that the buggy-lady wasn’t there and… well… took our own souveneir. Part of the tree. Yes, I now own perhaps the first piece of genuine Lord of the Rings memorabilia in the world. Then we heard the buggy and sprinted, so we didn’t get the photo.

That was my day, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy my prize. Additional rumours I have heard: Extras are taken to the sets *blindfolded*, the Scouring is in but quite small, and Stewart Townsend was fired because he never turned up to sword-fighting practice. I’m not sure about any of them, except maybe the second.

Oh, and I scouted the Chocolate Fish Cafe. Nice food. I would have gone to the Quarry but I was beaten to it. Sod it.

Sam B. – the spy with no (middle) name.

Pictures to follow soon! As soon as Calisuri can post them up!

tree 1 tree 3 tree 2