Ringer Shalane recently went on a Red Carpet Tour. Between July 28th to August 8th, Shalane had the opportunity to wander New Zealand visiting many of the sets where the filming for Lord of the Rings occured.

I have just returned from a twelve-day tour of Middle-Earth (aka New Zealand) with the Red Carpet Movie Tour Company organized by Vic James. Our group of fourteen came from the US, the UK, Wales, Scotland, and Australia. Although this was the middle of New Zealand winter, the grace of the Valar gave us lovely weather, with only one or two overcast days.

I must say, this trip exceeded my wildest expectations! (And I had some pretty wild expectations, let me tell you!) It was, in a word, incredible! Vic has done an extraordinary job in researching the exact locations where filming took place, sometimes finding them himself by questioning the locals (many of whom worked as extras in the films), sometimes using Ian Brodie’s locations book, and sometimes by sheer determination and persistence.

Rather than a day-by-day detailed diary, I will list some of the places we visited, occasionally adding a comment. I do not wish to spoil the many surprises for those who might be going on a tour soon. So if you do not wish to know anything about the tour itinerary, STOP READING NOW!

Mount Doom

Locations from “The Fellowship of the Ring”:

  • Hobbiton (prepare to be blown away! Bag End and the Party Tree!)
  • Mount Doom!
  • The Anduin River
  • The “Get Off The Road” site
  • The “Flight To The Ford” site
  • The place on the river where Sam and Frodo left the Fellowship
  • Amon Hen (you can just imagine Aragorn fighting the Uruk-hai!)
  • The Ford of Bruinen site (we were flown in by helicopter by a pilot who did many of the aerial shots and who flew the cast around)

Locations from “The Two Towers”:

  • To Mordor! Emyn Muil (the place in the opening scene where we first see Frodo and Sam climbing up the mountainside….and, the spot where they both slept while Gollum crept down the cliff)
  • The stream that Gollum swam down in pursuit of nice tasty fishesss
  • Edoras (absolutely stunning! Be prepared to get wet; there are several streams to cross before hiking to the top of Edoras)
  • Rohan and the village burned by the Wildmen (what business does an elf, a man, and a LOTR tour group have in the Riddermark?)
  • The entrance to Fangorn Forest
  • The site of the Warg attack and the cliff Aragorn fell over

Other notables: We stayed in many of the same hotels and ate at the same restaurants that the cast did. You can see the autographed T-shirts and the signed hotel registers on display. We also met many people who were extras (usually nasty orcses!) and who were willing to share their experiences. We got to see much of New Zealand since the tour took us from Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington in the North Island to Christchurch, Te Anau, and Queenstown in the South Island.

This is the journey of a lifetime, folks! I cannot speak highly enough of Vic James and Red Carpet Movie Tours for putting this together for LOTR fans. For those on the December tour including the Premier of ROTK in Wellington, I am envious! Read the books, see the movies, and now, visit Middle-Earth yourselves! Elendil! – Shalane.