Horsing around . . . The Black Riders of Mordor take a break during filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy near Arrowtown yesterday afternoon.

By Kerry Williamson

Queenstown: The Black Riders of Mordor rode into Arrowtown yesterday, won a battle, and drank some coffee.

The Otago Daily Times got close to the action yesterday during the filming of parts of the $360 million Lord of the Rings trilogy, near Arrowtown.

A film unit of about 50 crew and 50 extras, several horses, some masked creatures and of course, the famous Black Riders, spent the day filming near the Arrow River.

The unit – part of Wellington producer Peter Jackson’s entourage – filmed mostly battle scenes yesterday, and is expected to film for much of this week.

The film’s first unit – led by Jackson – is due in the Queenstown-Lakes district early next week.

But yesterday, extras got their chance to shine. And the ODT was there to watch, albeit from a distance and beside a security guard and a media-wary publicist.

There were about 30 horse riders, dressed in dark battle gear, holding aloft Crusader-type flags charging down the river.

They clashed several times with about 20 shorter, stockier warriors on foot – maybe they were evil orcs, maybe they were Middle Earth soldiers – complete with intricate masks, swords, shields and big feet.

After the heat of battle, masks came off to show tired and dirty faces. The Black Riders dismounted and sipped hot coffee.

Yesterday’s shoot is one of two taking place in the South Island this week.

The first unit – with stars Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Sean Bean and Orlando Bloom, and director Barrie Osborne – is filming near Golden Bay.

While several people wandered into the site yesterday, most were kept away from filming. Publicist Melissa Booth said security was tight because of the threat of photographers catching secrets on film.

The first film – The Fellowship of the Ring – is due for release late next year.

The company behind the movie is moving to stop the public getting images from the film, NZPA reported from Christchurch yesterday.

Publicist Claire Raskind said the film-maker would be enforcing its copyright, which meant photographs taken by the The Press of a Lord of the Rings film set in Mid-Canterbury could not be sold.

The Evening Post, which was to sell posters of images from the movie, has withdrawn them from sale under threats of an injunction.