Keen hiker and photographer Mighty Orc Hunter sent this in after spending so much time on Ruapehu that the security guards started to think he was part of the furniture:

“I’ve just spent several wonderful days trying not to get in the way of Guess Who and Co as they filmed around Mt Ruapehu. Got some great goss, and I’ll hopefully have time later in the week to capture some video pictures of my Orc hunting adventures.

At the end of Easter the film folk were snowed out of Happy Valley (next to Iwikau Village at an altitude of 1630 metres) with snow even falling down at the Chateau Tongariro (aka Grand Chateau [ugh!]) in Whakapapa Village (at 1140 metres).
The low stuff melted pretty quickly, but with Happy Valley unusable they relocated the filming about a kilometre down the road to where there _wasn’t_ any snow, but where they couldn’t possibly escape the fans and bemused onlookers – they were filming RIGHT ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD below Iwikau Village.
And so the timing of the start of my expedition couldn’t have been better. Hey, I even spoke with some bored “Gondorians” (who were actually from the NZ Army) while they were waiting for their turn to rush into battle.
The filming of 300 extras was against the biggest blue screen I have EVER seen or even imagined. Wow.

What I found particularly funny is that all the Men and Elves so enjoyed beating the tar out of the Orcs (and vice versa) that an air horn had to be used instead of yelling CUT just to get them to stop fighting. And sometimes they wouldn’t stop even then. However I think one particular Elf should have stayed dead after tripping over an Orc then being stabbed by it, and not gotten up and started fighting again. (It wasn’t long before the horn was blown, after all.)

Random Quotes:

“PJ is a pretty focussed guy” – Roadie answering a question from an inquisitive kid.

“Yeah, we’re actually a unit.” – Roadie upon realising he’s being filmed.

“So they bought the company.” – Unsubstantiated rumour. Apparently the amount they would have had to pay for marquee hire meant they just bought the whole darn marquee company. (Which is where they got the marquee that partially collapsed after all the snow fell on it… then had to darn the marquee. 🙂

“Isn’t this the same fabric that the Orc banners were made of in yesterday’s shoot?” – Mighty Orc Hunter doing a ground sweep the day after the roadside shoot.

“I’m just about to enter Tirau. Where did you say that castle wa… Oh WOW!” – Mighty Orc Hunter talking on cellphone (with handsfree headset) while driving into Tirau (North Island, NZ), then spotting non-LotR-related castle.
(I’ve seen that one too – what IS it? – Tehanu)